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Recap: Lake Erie Monsters @ Amerks, 02.17.12


“You’re on fire … You are dynamite.” (Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors, Fire and Dynamite)

Lots of teams can be described as lots of things. Second period teams, third period teams, power play teams, penalty kill teams, trap teams (yes, it still exists). The Amerks, apparently, are a Friday night team.

The Amerks invited the Lake Erie Monsters (LEM) into the Blue Cross Arena Friday night, looking to extend their winning streak over the Monsters. The Amerks were 2-0-0-0 over LEM in the team’s previous meetings, outscoring them 7-2 in those two games. I was definitely hoping that the Amerks would extend that scoring magic into tonight’s game. It did not start off promising, as LEM netted the first score. Luke Adam took a hooking penalty, which former Amerk Patrick Rissmiller capitalized on. The period ended with the Monsters up 1-0, and a wary feeling in the hearts of Amerks fans. Well, at least in the heart of THIS Amerks fan. You know … that “oh, for Pete’s sake, not this s**t again, Luke Adam” feeling?

Luckily, the Amerks took a PP into the second period, and started out looking like they had in the first. This is a strong team, even when they’re down, and they always at least LOOK like they want to win the game. 2:43 into the second, Marcus Foligno scored, and fell down. Varone and Szczechura assisted on the power play goal. Yes, you read that correctly, a POWER PLAY GOAL. They’re so rare around these parts, but they’re among the most beautiful of hockey unicorns. Maybe not as rare as they have been, since less than two minutes later, Derek Whitmore netted the Amerks’ second goal – and second power play goal – of the night. Less than two minutes after that, TJ Brennan scored the Amerks’ third goal. I always like it when the goals are coming so quickly that I can barely get the tweets out. I like it even more when they come so fast that the opponent pulls their starting goaltender because they think the guy with the 0-1-0-0 record in five appearances will do a better job. LEM managed to bring themselves within one, and managed to take a tripping penalty at the buzzer, sending the Amerks to a PP to start the third with a 3-2 lead.

The third period started much like the second, and again the Amerks looked great. Their man-advantage briefly became a two-man advantage that the Amerks were unable to capitalize on (but not for lack of trying). The possible worse part of the game came when, for reasons we couldn’t see at our end of the arena (since it happened at the opposite/LEM end). In front of the LEM net, Marcus Foligno dropped in a way that only a 6’3 man can, and left the ice holding his face. Turns out that he was hit with a puck off of his roommate Braden McNabb’s stick. Foligno would not return to the game (more later). Rochester’s fourth goal of the game initially looked as though referee Koharski had waved it off, but it stood, and so did we. It was Whitmore’s second of the night and 20th of the season, assisted by Varone and Schistel. Then things got fun. Travis Turnbull tangled with LEM’s Danny Mercier, dropping him fairly easily. While that was being sorted out, Igor Gongalski took on Danny Richmond, just killing him. All four players got majors for fighting, Turnbull got two more for roughing, and Gongalski and Richmond got gamers for secondary altercation. Maxime Legault netted Rochester’s fifth goal, off assists from the crossbar, Varone, and Schistel. The final nail in the coffin was McNabb, at 17:51 of the third, making it a 6-2 Rochester victory.

Game notes … Derek Whitmore became the first Amerk to twenty goals. Whitmore, obviously then, leads the team in goals. Second is Zack Kassian, with 15. Foligno is third, with 13. Whitmore also leads the team in SOG (160) and PPG (6) … The Amerks went 3 for 8 on the power play, while LEM was 1 for 5. It was a surprisingly low-penalty game, given that the referee – Jamie Koharski always seems to think that he’s getting paid by the penalty minute … Luke Adam has taken three penalties for Rochester, and the opponent has scored on all three of those power play opportunities. In a slightly redeeming move, Adam did earn his first two points, both assists, during this game … Mike Ryan recorded an assist tonight, as well. Someone should probably remind him that he needs to stop passing to the other team, though. He had a few gorgeous passes tonight, that would’ve been perfect if only he was wearing Lake Erie red instead of Rochester White … Marcus Foligno took McNabb’s shot to the face. He tweeted after the game that he needed a bunch of stitches and that he lost a tooth. It’s ok, though, because chicks dig scars … The three stars of the night were Luke Adam (who really did play his tush off), Phil Varone, and Derek Whitmore.

Ed. Note: Check out this gnarly picture of Foligno’s wounds:

Ow. Photo credit: Foligno's Blackberry (Silly Canadians), I suppose

The Amerks take the show on the road, with their second half of this home-and-home in Lake Erie Saturday night. The Amerks have not been as strong on the road, and will really need to work on that as they continue to push towards the playoffs. They also have not been playing as strong on Saturdays (I know, weird, right?), so I think this game at LEM will really be an indicator of how the rest of the season might go. They return home on Sunday to take on the Hamilton Bulldogs, who the Amerks have really not had much good luck against. The teams have met eight times already, with the Amerks only winning ONE of those matches. Hamilton has outscored Rochester 27-19 over those eight games. Sunday’s match will be the second-to-last meeting between the two, and it would really be nice to see Rochester lay out a beating on them.

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