Recap: Abbotsford Heat @ Amerks, 02.03.12
“Something about you, baby, really knocked my off my feet.” (Journey, La Do Da)
The general consensus going into the second of back-to-back homers with the Abbotsford Heat was that the Amerks needed to come out as crazy-strong as they did during the first game. To quote my Dad during the first game, “I don’t care what the game looks like or what the score is, as long as we have more goals than the Heat.” Well … not for lack of trying, anyways.
Unfortunately, the Amerks didn’t show up for the first period, save for a pretty intense boxing match between Rochester’s Gongalsky and Abbotsford’s Aliu, 4 SECONDS into the game. It was a match easily won by Gongalsky, and got the crowd fired up. Unfortunately, that momentum didn’t keep up, after Abbotsford netted the first goal of the game. If you want to talk about an otherwise uneventful first period, the Amerks only had 2 shots on goal until late into the period. They ended the period with a measly 7 shots on goal, to Abbotsford’s 11.
Abbotsford took their strong play into the second period, and scored the second goal of the game. There was a lot of physical play in the second, and the Amerks came out like a completely different team … or, at least, like the team we know and love. Jacob Lagacy got boarded – with no call – about midway through the period. He looked surprised at the hit, but he tends to always look surprised and he finished the game, so I’m leaning toward him being ok (I’ll be glad to help nurse him back to health if need be, though. Just saying). Very late in the second, the Amerks went on the power play after Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond helped teach Marcus Foligno how to wash his face in front of the Heat net. This lead to a power play where the Amerks had so many INCREDIBLE chances that just weren’t making it to the back of the twine. I was legit sitting on the edge of my seat. However, persistence often pays off and, with less than a minute left in the period, Gongalsky cut the Heat lead in half.
Going into the third, the Amerks continued to play like a team possessed, and really stepped it up. A combination of persistence and beauty helped Szczechura tie the game in the third, and that’s how it would stay until overtime. However, the Amerks coming back to tie seemed to throw the Heat off their game, and they were certainly frazzled after the Amerks got in a few solid, clean hits deep in the Abbotsford zone. With 1:41 left in the third, Derek Whitmore took a poorly timed (but are there ever any perfectly timed penalties?) penalty for hooking. The game headed into a short OT, with the Heat netting the final tally 22 seconds into the overtime frame.
Game notes … I have to apologize for an error in my last post. While Phil Varone did score the second goal of the game, which was a shorty, it was in the third period, not the second. Thanks, @aero_aaron for the heads up … I overheard a conversation between a puck bunny-in-training (PBIT?) and Alex Biega, who was scratched tonight. Biega stated that he though that he’d likely be out against Syracuse with a bit of a wrist injury, he thinks he’ll return to practice and game play next week … Rochester was 0/5 on the power play, Abbotsford was 1/5 … The Amerks wore one-time-only baby blue jerseys and held a “Jersey Off Their Backs” auction to benefit Zero Cancer, a prostate cancer awareness organization. Joe Finley had the highest bidder, with someone willing to pay $875 for the sweat of a 6’8 hockey player. David Leggio’s sweater went for $850. The lowest bid was $300 for the Moose’s jersey.
Tonight they’re in Syracuse visiting the Crunch, but the Amerks will be doing the Texas two-step next weekend, as they host the Texas Stars on Friday, February 10, and the San Antonio Rampage on Saturday the 11th. Rochester played both of these teams in December, and lost both games. I’m looking particularly forward to the Rampage game, as a lot of familiar faces will be returning to Rochester for the first time since last season’s Amerks roster was relocated to San Antonio following Terry Pegula’s purchase of the Americans and relocation of the Portland Pirates’ roster to Rochester.