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Recap: Amerks @ Toronto Marlies, 01/28/12


“It’s foreign on this side, but it feels like I’m home again.” (Nickel Creek, This Side)

Ricoh Coliseum

You may ask yourself, “Self, what is the strangest thing that might happen when I’m a fan of the away team in a Canadian barn?” And the answer to that would likely be: A group of 25+ Catholic school children will boo you for wearing an Amerks jersey. You may also ask yourself, “Self, I wonder how they choose the three stars of the game.” The answer to that would be that the members of the media in the press box vote. Some nights, you wonder if those voters are even watching the same game that you are. Then Zack Kassian gets second star of the game, and you know that they’ve had a few too many Molsons and shouldn’t be allowed to make any decisions whatsoever.

My sister, brother in law, niece, and I made one of our semi-annual hockey treks Saturday to see the (struggling) Amerks take on the (struggling) Toronto Marlies at Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto. Both teams were coming off of rather brutal losses, with the Marlies falling to Hamilton on Friday, 4-1, and the Amerks getting shut out 4-0 by Syracuse on Friday. I went with the idea that the game would either be really great or really terrible, but it ended up really unusual.

The Amerks scored first, with Kassian getting the tally. I’m sorry to say that I actually missed this goal, as I was in line for the most amazing poutine of my life. Derek Whitmore scored second for the Amerks, with a beauty of a play. The third and final goal of the game came from the Marlies off of Mike Zigomanis’ stick. All of the game’s goals were scored in the first period.

For two struggling teams, this game was far from boring. It was a good, clean game, with a lot of excitement and a few edge-of-your-seat moments. It was surprisingly clean between these two teams, who have a bit of a history of getting dirty with one another. The first penalty of the game didn’t come until 1:15 into the third period, and there were only five total penalties called. The one that surprised me, however, was that one of the Marlies got called on a “hit to the head” penalty on an awesome open ice hit on Jacob Lagace. The check did knock Lagace’s helmet off, but to my eyes (and those of my brother in law next to me), it looked clean. The Amerks took their second penalty with 90 seconds left in the third and, although the Marlies tried very hard to tie it, the Amerks were able to hang on to win 2-1.

Game notes … I know I’ve been riding our All-Star Zack Kassian really hard these last few weeks. I’m still observing the same bored, lazy style of play, and I can’t help but wonder what’s being done on the other side (e.g. by coaching staff) to get rid of some of that. I keep reminding myself – and my Twitter followers are helping – that he’s just a kid. He just turned 21. There is time for him to change his attitude, and I hope it happens soon … David Leggio started in net, and he looked off the entire game. Although he played well, he was out of position a lot and he seemed to be slow in his movements and saves … Derek Whitmore is clearly making himself the Thomas Vanek of this team. He plays so hard and so well night after night. It’s a wonder his back doesn’t break from carrying them some nights … I had the opportunity to enjoy my dinner at Smoke’s Poutinerie right in Ricoh Coliseum. If you ever have the chance to eat at any of their locations, the bacon poutine is almost as good as sex.

The Amerks welcome the Abbotsford Heat to Blue Cross Arena Thursday and Friday night. The Heat currently sit in the 4th spot in the Western Conference, while the Amerks are in 10th. The Amerks players have made several comments about doing “better,” and hopefully better comes through this week for them.

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