Recap: Hershey Bears @ Amerks, 02.22.12
“Sometimes, you get the bear. Sometimes, the bear gets you. Sometimes, you’re gonna win and sometimes you’re gonna lose …” (Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers, The Bear)
I’m going to say this again and again and again: If this Amerks team was halfway consistent, they would be un-freaking-stoppable.
The Amerks welcomed the Hershey Bears to the Blue Cross Arena at the Rochester War Memorial for the only time this season on Wednesday, and I had the joy of spending the game sitting next to a good friend who is also a big ol’ Bears fan. There were a lot of things going on during this game that made it a rather unique experience for me, most importantly – I wasn’t sitting in my usual, season ticket holder seat! My friend and I sat on the glass, and (since I usually sit in the end, behind the goal), I had gotten used to the rather slow pace of the game that you experience from the end. The sides of the arena are SO much faster – I forgot that. The Bears were the team that came out guns blazing, keeping really heavy pressure on David Leggio until it finally paid off – the Bears scored the first goal of the game, with Pope burying a nice pass from former Amerk Graham Mink. The Amerks sponsored their first “Toss a Hershey Bear Night,” where the goal (heh) was to toss a stuffed bear onto the ice after the first Amerks goal. After Hershey’s first goal, I had the worst thought: What if the Amerks get shut out and everyone brought these bears for nothing?” NOT THAT I DON’T HAVE FAITH IN MY TEAM. I was just concerned, based on their past two games. Derek Whitmore came through for me, though, tying the game at 5:37 of the first. Assists went to Tropp and Persson, and the stuffed bears rained down on the ice. That wasn’t enough for the Amerks in the first period, however, as Tropp wanted in on the action himself, burying a pretty dish from Captain Stuart. The Amerks took their 2-1 lead into the first intermission.
The Amerks held onto their A game into the second period, keeping the heat on. As Hershey’s Potulney went two for tripping, Persson scored seven seconds into the power play, giving Rochester a 3-1 lead. I have to say, at this point, that I really started to appreciate how close to the action I really was and the new perspective on the game I had. During the second period, the Bears were defending right in front of us, and I got to see all of the beautiful chances that Rochester was creating for themselves. I got to watch Marcus Foligno bury his own rebound at 11:05 to put the Amerks up 4-1. Whitmore and Szczechura assisted, but Foligno really did it all by himself. At the close of the second, Mink and Legault exchanged some words and scrapped just a bit, with Mink catching a slashing penalty as Legault hit the ice and was VERY slow to get up. It was during the second intermission that my friend told me that he didn’t think that a three goal lead was an insurmountable one, and that he was confident that his Bears would come back to at least tie the game.
That’s ok, Bears fan friend. Corey Tropp was more than willing to make the lead even greater three minutes into the third, as he put the fifth puck of the night past Hershey’s goaltender. Hershey didn’t lose for lack of trying, and actually put a second goal past Lggio on the (Luke Adam) power play, making opponents three for four on the Luke Adam penalty. Hershey left an empty net for almost three minutes at the close of the third, but Rochester was unable to put one in, taking the game on a 5-2 win.
Game Notes: Dennis Persson played in his first game after being benched for three. It was not the only shakeup to the lineup by Coach Ron Rolston, who sat Biega and Schiestel in favor of Persson and a newly-healthy Finley … The Amerks went 2/7 on the power play, with 31 (10-13-8) SOG. Hershey was 1/5 with 34 (13-8-13) SOG … This win pushes Rochester into 9th in the division with 57 points, putting two points behind 8th place San Antonio. Right on Rochester’s heels is Lake Erie, however, with 56 points. While both games this weekend will be critical points for Rochester, the game against Lake Erie will be of particular importance.
If this team could play like this all the time … or at least more consistently than ONCE A FLIPPING WEEK … there would be no doubt that this team would be leading their division, if not the conference, and they’d be well on their way to the playoffs already. As us faithful fans sit back now, looking at the upcoming schedule – including home games on Friday (vs Adirondack) and Saturday (vs Lake Erie … again) – I can’t help but wonder what will happen. Mr Amerk, Derek Whitmore left us with this thought last night on Twitter, though:
We’re holding you to it, Derek. Don’t think we’ll forget.
Rochester welcomes the Adirondack Phantoms to the War Memorial on Friday, February 24, who will bring along former Amerk Denis Hamel. Hamel played for Rochester and Buffalo from 1997-2003, amassing 99 goals (87 with Rochester) and 185 points (163 with Rochester) in 402 games (272 with Rochester). It’s very easy to say that Hamel was a fan favorite (and my older sister’s favorite, as well), but I won’t mind watching our Amerks shut down Adirondack Friday night. So far this season, Rochester is 0-2 against the Phantoms. See you at the game!