Please ... allow me to introduce myself! I’m Stephanie, I like hockey, steak, music, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Boston Red Sox, good tequila, Laphroaig, and stout beers. I cover the Amerks for a tempestuous little blog called Black & Blue & Gold. The fine folks here at Die By The Blade have asked me to provide you lovely readers with a weekly(ish) recap of the Amerks and how they’re doing. I hope that you enjoy my rantings about the current state of the team, and I look forward to interacting with all y’all.
As for background? I have been an Amerks fan literally my whole life - my mother will vouch that I have been attending Amerks games since I was in utero - and I am a current season ticket holder. I can frequently be spotted in the atrium, drinking $2 happy hour Molsons, rocking an old school Scotty Nichol sweater, and probably swearing way too much for any female who’s ever been called a lady. I consider myself a hockey fan; a fan of the game instead of just one team. Along with my beloved and frequently-sworn-at Amerks, I follow the NHL with a certain reckless abandon that I have yet to see in many other fans. I am also a relatively newer NCAA hockey fan, deciding to fall in love with the Penn State Nittany Lions, since we were both new to the NCAA world in the same season. I promise that I’m female, and I will gladly argue about any and all things related to hockey while wearing a dress and 6" heels. Anyhow, without further ado ... on with the blog already!!
"Don't stand still or we'll lose our ground, the world keeps spinning just to wear us down."
It hasn’t yet become a long season for the Amerks, but they are following right in the path of their parent Buffalo Sabres. In their first three games, things look a bit bleak, but at least the Amerks have a win under their belts. Watching the AHL is always such a different beast than hanging out in NHL-land, where players are bought and sold (I mean, traded) as needs arise and demands are made. The AHL’s sole purpose, believe it or not ... and I fight about this with Internet tough guys frequently ... is to develop players into NHL-caliber commodities. It is rarely, if ever, the NHL parent club’s task to send "help" to their struggling farm team and, let’s face it, I don’t know that I would want any of that hot mess express that’s in Buffalo to come visit Rochester. Goaltending is shoddy. Defense is full of holes. We don’t really have any enforcers (except maybe Frederick Roy, but more on that later). The team has allowed 14 goals in three games, netting only 6. They have only put up 60 shots to their opponents' 107. Yeah, guys. It’s bad.
(This was easy this time. Only four guys are producing ...)
Luke Adam ... I hate to say this. I am not Luke Adam’s biggest fan. I’m not his biggest detractor, but I am not starting the Luker Fan Club any time soon. I cannot argue with the statistics, however. Adam has three points in three games (3+0=3, 2PIM). Last season, it took him 16 games to get to three goals. I hope he’s able to keep it up, because the boys need his production and (dare I say) leadership.
Jamie Tardiff ... Tardiff was a late summer UFA pick up and is on a two-way contact with Buffalo. He comes to us via the Providence/Boston Bruins, and played two games for Boston in February. He currently has 1 goal and 2 assists (1+2=3, 0PIM) in three games.
Dan Catanacci and Kevin Sundher ... both have 1 goal and 2PIM in three games.
The rest of the team? Oh, I have to narrow it down? Well, ok. If you insist ...
Drew Bagnall ... Bags has 9PIM, 0 points, and is a -4 in three games.
Matt Ellis ... another fan club I won’t be president of, Ellis is a -3 with 2PIM and 0 points in three games.
Matt Hackett ... Hackett is having a rough go of things right now. He’s no David Leggio, that’s for sure, and the defense in front of him is pretty awful. Hackett has played 156 minutes over three games, allowing 12 goals on 98 shots. He has a 4.61GAA and .878SV%. He also, curiously enough, has 16PIM, including three minors for roughing, diving/embellishing, and unsportsmanlike conduct, and game misconduct. They were all garnered during the Amerks game on October 12 against the Syracuse Crunch. Based on what head coach Chadd "Two D’s" Cassidy is saying, Hackett will be "elite" at the AHL level, and all indicators seem to point toward him being the primary starter, at least through the end of October. It is equally likely that his backup will remain Nathan Lieuwen, and that Connor Knapp and Andrey Makarov will be relocated to ECHL teams.
As a side note, Frederick Roy, son of storied goaltender and infamous hot head Patrick, currently leads the team in PIM, notching himself 35 minutes in three games. Roy is small in stature - only measuring at 5’10, 168lbs - but certainly possesses his father’s passion and, as local sports media has dubbed it, "snarl." Last year, Roy tallied ten points (8+2) and 62 PIM in 64 games.
The Toronto Marlies blow into town on October 18. They’ll bring with them former Amerk/Sabre TJ Brennan, whom Toronto media has taken to calling Three-J, after two hat tricks in three games has helped him earn seven goals and ten points in three games. The Marlies have always had Rochester’s number, and I’m nearly certain that this year will be no different. Maybe new Amerk and former Marlie Mike Zigomanis can shed some light on the Marlies and help lead the Amerks to better conclusions. Additionally, the Utica Comets return on October 19, for the second of ten meetings this season.
You can follow me on twitter at @StephanieZD for tidbits on the team throughout the week and I’ll be back next week with a new update and hopefully some better news about these Amerks. I’ll see you at the game, and let’s go, Amerks!