The Amerks most recent weekend at home didn't really start out so well. Remember those five minutes last season where we didn't get our rear ends handed to us by the Toronto Marlies every time? That was not Friday's game. The Marlies kicked it off with three goals before the seven minute mark. They would go on to tally EIGHT goals against Rochester - seven against Nathan Lieuwen and one more vs replacement Andrey Makarov - over the course of the three period contest. To say that it wasn't Rochester's best showing is an understatement.
Blood pressure: do better. Keep rising. (MuteMath, Blood Pressue)
Things got slightly better on Sunday, when the Syracuse Crunch came to town, for the first of ten meetings this season (ahhh AHL scheduling). There has never been any love lost between these two clubs, and this game was no exception. Syracuse wasted no time in throwing their weight around, and the cooler heads of Rochester prevailed - for the most part. Rochester jumped out to a quick lead, and took it into the first intermission. Syracuse would tie the game in the second, but Nick Baptiste would put the Amerks in the lead again, on his first professional goal. His effort Sunday night was outstanding. Syracuse would again tie the game, and the teams would go to the second intermission knotted at two. It would be more of the same in the third, with Jason Akeson netting the Amerks second powerplay goal of the night and the Crunch tying the game at three. The Amerks would ultimately win the game in the shootout.
After Sunday's matchup, Phil Varone reminded everyone that it was a better result than Friday night, but it still wasn't as good as they could have been. "We weren't doing the little things. It was better, it was a step in the right direction." He also reminded folks that not every player that steps out on the ice is the same guy that was out there the night or the week before. "We were lucky to have [Linus] Ullmark in net, but we just have to keep finding ourselves."
Head Coach Randy Cunneyworth called Sunday's game a "great effort," but remarked that he wants that momentum to keep up going into this weekend's three-in-three away trip. There will be some familiar, although long-unseen faces, and some faces the Amerks are quite unfamiliar with. Rochester will be at the Springfield (Mass.) Falcons (Arizona Coyotes) to visit with former head coach Ron Rolston on Friday night. On Saturday afternoon, they move on to the Portland Pirates (Florida Panthers), and to the Hartford WolfPack (New York Rangers) on Sunday evening. As the last road trip didn't go so well, this will be yet another test of this young club in unchartered waters. Hopefully, these seas are calmer than the rocky waters of St. John's.
I am joining with #HockeyFightsDV again this season, to benefit the Willow Center in Rochester, NY. I have pledged $1/Patrice Bergeron goal, $5/Amerks Goalie SO, $1/Amerks win, $2/"Ryan Miller Shutout," $25/Amerks or Sabres goalie point, to be updated at the end of each month this season. You can pledge, too, at hockeyfightsdv.tumblr.com