It’s looking as if the game a lot of fans had wanted last season is expected to finally happen, Rochester Americans vs Portland Pirates. The bitter divorce between the Amerks and Buffalo Sabres during the 2007/2008 season created an instant rivalry with whoever the Sabres would become affiliated with, that team being the Pirates.
The Amerks and Pirates have a history dating back to 1996 when the Amerks defeated the Pirates in seven games to win the Calder Cup Championship.
A home and home series between the two teams could very well be one game at HSBC Arena in Buffalo and one at Blue Cross Arena. A guaranteed attendance boost for both teams. The Pirates drew 11,144 fans last season against the Albany River Rats at HSBC Arena. A game involving the Amerks would be a huge boost for that adding a few more thousand fans. On the flipside the Pirates playing at Blue Cross Arena would have Sabres fans in the building and spark the old debate.
With 29 teams in the league during the 2008/09 season the Amerks played 44 of 80 games against five different teams. During the same season the Pirates played 48 games against five different teams.
While it appears that the Amerks will be stuck in the Western Conference yet again, the scheduling may be improved by at least eight to ten games – it’s a start. Teams in the American Hockey League might finally be getting the hint that fans are sick of seeing the same teams over and over and bringing in different teams could improve interest.
The Amerks are looking to play more teams in the East like the Hershey Bears, Willkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Portland Pirates, and the newest team in New York the Adirondack Phantoms.
The Pirates are looking to do the same as well by lining up games against Rochester, Hamilton, Toronto, Syracuse and Adirondack.
A winning team is needed more than a promotional game between these two teams, but with two months to go before free agency is underway we’ll take what we can get in terms of new ‘news.’