Look at any Amerks box score recently, and you’ll see a lot of the same names. Zac Dalpe. Johan Larsson. Jerry D’Amigo. Hell, Dalpe himself will tell you that he and D’Amigo "read off of each other. We have a good thing going, and hopefully it doesn’t stop anytime soon."
"Everybody just wants to dance, everybody just wants to dance." (Kris Allen, "Everybody Wants To Dance")
How good is good? Including tonight’s game, Dalpe has 12 (6+6) points in seven games. He will humbly pass it off as "hockey working in mysterious ways" and things just clicking on the ice, but his pride is evident, wearing the Amerks Leader of the Band hat. Not just pride in his own play, because that doesn’t seem to be his style, but pride in the whole team and the way they’ve come into their own in the last several weeks. They have, after all, picked up 10 points out of their last possible 12. That’s enormous for a team that struggled both home and away for a big portion of the first half of the season. Said Dalpe, "You just quietly go about your business and make plays and you’ll be rewarded for it." Head Coach Chadd Cassidy put it differently: "When [Dalpe] is on the ice, we get chances." Cassidy also lends credit to Larsson and D’Amigo for their work ethic and effort, and commends Dan Catenacci and Jake McCabe for stepping up, as well.
It’s not just a few players that are stepping up lately, though. Six different players scored seven goals for the Amerks tonight, in their win over the Adirondack Flames. Brayden Irwin, Larsson, William Carrier, Catenacci, and Tim Schaller all contributed goals, and several other Amerks chipped in on assists. That’s not to say that it didn’t look hairy for a few minutes in the first period. The Flames got three goals past netminder Matt Hackett in a bit over four minutes, after Rochester opened the scoring just 22 seconds into the period. It looked dreadfully like another "been here, done this" game for the Amerks return home, but the team rallied and ended the first period tied at three before truly digging in and sealing the deal.
Dalpe contributed a lot of that to confidence on the bench, and the team remembering that there are 60 minutes to play. "There’s no panic," he stated, following the game. And Cassidy agreed with that sentiment, taking it further to point out that his team can compete, no matter what the score is. "You only have to score one more than the other team." Despite the Amerks struggles earlier in the season, they have really begun to demonstrate that they CAN compete, no matter the score on the board. "We’re playing with swagger now," Tim Schaller said. "One guy sees another guy’s confidence and we build from it." The blocks need to keep getting stacked, as the Amerks continue their race to the finish in the Western Conference.
The Amerks will host the Utica Comets for a Valentine’s Night match up before a short trip to Hamilton on Wednesday. They’re back home next weekend, as well, facing off against Texas on February 20 and Syracuse on the 22nd. As always, I’ll have all of your Amerks news as soon as I know it over on the Twitters. I know that I was sorely lacking during their road trip, and I apologize and look forward to being better!