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Recap: OKC Barons @ Amerks 01/19/12

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“I wish you would try and look a little more excited …” (People In Planes, Last Man Standing)

The Amerks played host to the OKC Barons tonight, in the first of back-to-back games against the Barons. Rochester, ever a pleasant hostess, was cordial, polite, and … wait, they showed up for the game? Well, either way, I was there and I have some thoughts on this mess.

The Amerks faced off against the Barons twice previously, in OKC’s barn, and took both games – one in OT and one in a shootout. There were a lot of high hopes and raised expectations going into tonight’s game and, like many WNY hockey teams right now, our hopes and expectations were dashed. This is actually a spot that Amerks’ fans are not familiar with finding ourselves. Sure, we’ve watched our Amerks lose on home ice, but they’ve been IN THE GAME. Tonight was a completely different beast.

The Amerks came out, guns blazing, and actually looked promising. They scored their first goal at 7:53 of the first, when Szczechura (no, really. It’s pronounced sh-HURR-uh, not like the desert) scored on a pretty pass from Jacob Lagace. That was the last time this game looked promising. David Leggio was far from the rock star goaltender he was last weekend and the D was slow, sad, and super-depleted. 5 of Rochester’s top 7 d-men were not in the game tonight, with Brennan, Finley, and McNabb in Buffalo, Schiestel off due to a death in the family, and Morrisson serving the first of a 3-game suspension. Shockingly, the two ECHL PTO call-ups were not the worst looking guys on the ice tonight. Although both Maury Edwards and Brock Matheson were -2 on the night, but had hustle and played a semi-decent game.

Therein lies the rub, however. A semi-decent game isn’t what we need at this stage. This OKC team is good. Guys, they’re not one of the top teams in the AHL for no reason. To have taken two points tonight from these guys would’ve been HUGE for Rochester. Right now, a semi-decent game from two call ups and a phenomenal game from our regulars should be what we’re looking at. Unfortunately, and I say this with the utmost positivity, I don’t know that this weekend will get much better for Rochester, as they face the Barons again tomorrow, then bus nearly 9 hours to Grand Rapids to face the Griffins. Friday is a new day, and fresh ice, so we can only wait and see what happens.

Game notes … Zack Kassian continues to play like a man who thinks he’s better than the AHL. I don’t know what’s gotten into him, but he needs to get over himself and play some hockey. My 83 year-old Grandma plays a better two-way game right now … I wouldn’t be shocked to see Drew MacIntyre get the start tomorrow night. Ron Rolston has been riding David Leggio’s hot hand for a bit now, and he may benefit from the break … I’m a little surprised that there was not retaliation/retribution for an incident that occurred the last time these two teams met. Evan Rankin got taken out on a nasty hit that has left him out due to a concussion. Much like the Lucic-Miller incident, there was no fighting back from this Amerks team, that night or tonight. Nothing like letting someone (I’m looking at you, Taylor Chorney) get away with a cheap shot … Speaking of concussions, tonight was supposed to be the much-anticipated return of Michael Ryan (and his eyebrows), who’s been out with concussion symptoms since October. However, he was scratched from the lineup.

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