Zac Dalpe will tell you that he thinks looks pretty silly in the Amerks conductor's hat. But I bet it feels pretty good. He'll also offer up a bit of sound advice, on his first night back after a stretch of missed time due to injury: "No one asks how, they just ask how many."
"You've got a story you never tell." (Kings of Leon, Supersoaker)
For all the things the Amerks weren't on Wednesday, they were on Friday. Maybe they needed some turkey, stuffing, and what I'm sure was a hearty work out Thursday morning with some feedback from their Coach. They found their legs, they forced the play, and they didn't looked frightened of the puck. It wasn't a perfect game, by any stretch of the imagination, but they looked a lot better than they did on Wednesday. They still got off to a shaky start, and there was still that "oh, hell" moment, as the Griffins once again scored the first goal of the game and as the Amerks, once again, had to play catch up. It is, and was and continues to be a troubling theme. The Amerks played from behind all night, but came back to tie it each time, thanks to Dalpe, Brayden Irwin, and Jake McCabe. Phil Varone helped out, as always, with assists on two of Rochester's goals. He's second in the AHL in helpers with 15, and in a 3-way tie for points with 21 (6+15) in 20 games.
The AHL is a breeding ground not only for NHL prospects, but for NHL rules. Hybrid icing? Started in the AHL. It's lame and, despite understanding why it exists, I assure you, we lamented about it first. How hipster of us. What I can also assure you about is that the latest potential rule change is one that you want the NHL to adopt because it is SO. FREAKIN. FUN. This season, the AHL started a new overtime format that initially sounded sort of dumb to me (I'm being honest) and super complicated (because it was explained poorly). I'm going to explain it very simply. First, there is a dry scrape. Then there is a seven minute overtime period. The first three minutes, is four-on-four. At the first stoppage of play AFTER THE FIRST THREE MINUTES HAVE PASSED, the teams go down to three-on-three hockey for the remainder of the overtime period. If the score is still tied, there is a three round shootout.
Let me tell you. Three on three hockey? That's some fun hockey. It's downright sexy. Phil Varone, Jake McCabe, and Chadd Cassidy will assure you that they've never actually practiced 3-on-3 hockey. And they'll also tell you that there is a LOT of ice when there are only six skaters out there. To take it further, they will add that you'd better be sure of your shot, because if you're off, you've just given the other team an automatic odd-man rush. Varone called the period fun, but also noted that he "didn't have the legs to backcheck. Grigo made a great play and bailed me out making it 3-on-2 going one way." Even in his retelling, he's helping his teammates out. "You find something deep in there and you figure it out," Varone said on getting past that last Grand Rapids skater to put the puck past McCollum for the game winner, with :51 seconds remaining. I don't know that anyone with the Amerks on their mind keep a cheer out of their mouth when that puck went in, not only from excitement, but from the fun of watching that period.
I can only imagine the three-man combinations that could come up in the NHL that would be absolutely swoon-worthy (and I'm not talking about the swoons I have about Patrice Bergeron, although he'd be amazing on the 3-on-3) should this potential rule change pass the test. The ice is so open that it becomes this interesting game of finesse and keep-away and shinny all rolled into one. If you have an AHL team near you - since I know you're not all in the Rochester area - pay them a visit and pray to the hockey gods for a tie.
Rochester heads off to Binghamton on Saturday for another night against the Senators, possibly short William Carrier. Carrier left the game in the first period with what Cassidy described as a mid-body injury. Cassidy also called it a precautionary measure to have Carrier exit the game early. There had been thoughts that there was potential for a call up, as well, because of Drew Stafford not finishing out Friday's Sabres game against Montreal. It was noted that he would be traveling with the team, but that doesn't rule out a call up. The Amerks return home next Friday, and I'll be there. It's almost December (thankfully - I've had enough of Movember!), kiddos! Hopefully Santa will bring us exciting wintertime hockey!!