Amerks beat Flames 6-1, victory overshadowed by violence
Joel Armia scored on a nasty penalty shot and the Amerks netted six goals, but Trevor Gillies pounding William Carrier's head into the ice is, sadly, the lasting impact of the Amerks 2014-15 home opener.
Amerks Coach Chadd Cassidy had only one thing to say about Adirondack Flames "forward" Trevor Gillies' actions against Rochester's William Carrier Friday night: "If there's room for that in hockey, I'm not sure I want to coach anymore."
"The whole world's sitting on a ticking bomb ... and it's about to explode." (Aloe Blacc, Ticking Bomb)
This will not be yet another internet diatribe about how there isn't a place any longer in any league (was there ever, really?) for people like Trevor Gillies. But I will say this: He was not assessed a match penalty for attempting to goad William Carrier into a fight that Carrier clearly didn't want any part of. When Carrier fell to the ice and immediately turtled, Gillies grabbed the back of Carrier's sweater and then slammed Carrier's head onto the ice, a rebuttal for Carrier's "I'm not interested in what you're offering" move.
I continually waffle on whether or not there is a place for a well-timed, proper skirmish in today's hockey. Or if there even is such a thing as an acceptable fight in today's game. But I know one thing for sure: There is, without a doubt, zero place for what Gillies did. I find it simply mind blowing that referees Kendrick Nicholson and Jaime Koharski didn't send him off on a match penalty, instead issuing Gillies instigating, fighting, a 10-minute misconduct, and game misconduct penalties. Coach Cassidy made no bones about it. He made all in attendance at his post-game press conference aware that, should the league not look into the incident, the team will send in the tape and request a formal review of the incident.
Enough of that, there was a lot of fun stuff that happened during this game. Like the Amerks scoring six goals. Holy cows. I cannot remember the last time the Amerks won a home opener, so I was wicked excited. The Amerks opened the night with the color guard, anthem, and ceremonial puck drop all delivered by members of the Rochester Police Department Tactical Unit. It was a very brief, but touching, nod to fallen Officer Daryl Pierson. After a scoreless first, the Amerks opened the scoring in the second period with a scorcher from Tim Schaller. It didn't take long for the Flames to respond with one of their own, however, and the game was tied at one-all. After that, however, it became the Amerks show.
Mikhail Grigorenko scored the Amerks second goal at 16:19 of the second period on a gorgeous pass from Joel Armia. Less than two minutes later, Chad Ruhwedel scored Rochester's third goal on the power play from Johan Larsson and Phil Varone. It's somewhat of a miracle there weren't more power play goals in this game, really, given the amount of penalties - and that's before the mayhem in the third period. Speaking of the third period, Matt Ellis wanted in on the action, so he scored three minutes in, with a feed from Captain Drew Bagnall and LW William Carrier. Joel Armia had a penalty shot that was absolutely NASTY. He later said that it was not his first penalty shot, but the first one he was successful on. "I don't know," Armia said later, about his penalty shot move. "I didn't think about anything. I just went in and did something." Phil Varone would cap off the Amerks night, in the midst of the mess of end-of-game penalties, with the Amerks sixth and final goal, on the power play.
I guess that almost brings us full circle. Back to that long list of penalties on the official game sheet from the AHL. Go check it out, if you're so inclined. Officially, 187 minutes worth of penalties were assessed between the two teams - 39 infractions between two clubs. 100 minutes over 20 penalties to Adirondack, and 87 over 19 to Rochester. Each team ended up with six power plays. When all was said and done, six Flames and five Amerks were awarded (is that the correct term? Awarded?) game misconduct penalties, all within the last 5:00 of play, and all, subsequently, were tossed from the game because them's the rules. In his post-game presser, Coach Cassidy talked about pushing "team toughness" during camp, as he felt that no one person on the team would be the lone tough guy if need be. He did, however, say that he "didn't envision Joel (Armia) and Grigs getting into a fight." If nothing else, tonight's match should make for an interesting remaining eleven games between these two teams.
My Three Stars of the Night:
1. Mikhail Grigorenko - Grigs is showing everyone why he doesn't belong in Rochester, and it's almost a shame. He's so fun to watch. He easily dominates the game when the puck is on his tape and I cannot imagine he will spend a lot of time down here.
2. Nathan Lieuwen - It sounds horrifically cheesy, but this kid can stop anything he can see. I didn't have a lot of confidence when I had heard that he was starting tonight, but I was mistaken in that. I'm not saying he's going to win every game. That would be silly, and we all know I know better than that. But he's going to be good at hockey this season. And I will gladly eat my words if I am wrong.
3. Max Reinhart (ADK) - Oops! He plays for the "bad guys!" Max, Sam's older brother, will prove to be dangerous to Rochester if they are not careful. And any other club, as well. He puts himself where he can cause the most damage and there were a few times that Rochester was lucky that Lieuwen was on point to prevent Reinhart from doing that damage.
My Three Black Holes:
1. Trevor Gillies - You know why.
2. Referees Kendrick Nicholson and Jamie Koharski - Besides the hot damn mess at the end of the game, these two were whistle happy the whole time. You would have thought they were getting paid by the penalty minute. Anyone familiar with Mr. Koharski knows that he is not a favorite in Rochester, but this combination tonight was a special blend of what the ...
3. The 6'4 man who sat in front of me midway through the first. I saw your ticket. I know that wasn't your seat. Maybe you didn't notice that I'm horribly short (I make up for it with my massive personality), but you blocked my view for a lot of the second period. People like you are just stink-heads.
The Amerks will host the Hamilton Bulldogs on Saturday, and then won't play again until Saturday, October 18, when they head over the border for the first of many games again the Toronto Marlies. It's very early in the season and it looks like it will be a fun and interesting ride, folks. Let's do this.