Something familiar happened on Sunday evening, the Amerks lost to the Crunch. The final score was 4-1, the fourth goal was on an empty net.
If you showed up to the game expecting to see some finesse hockey you would have been let down. The games going on in the other rinks were probably smoother than this one.
The game was sloppy, was all over the place, had little chemistry, and also had some guys trying to show themselves off more than trying to work together as a team.
We just need to remember, it’s only the preseason. These players have only skated together a couple of times with there first real practice together Sunday morning for a short gameday skate.
After the game head coach Benoit Groulx said, “To me it’s an exhibition game. We have alot of things that we need to put together and we’ll keep working at it.”
“Tonight we’re missing so many guys still with the Panthers like Repik, Duco, and Taffe. Tonight we tried something and obviously it’s too early to get an idea,” is how Benoit Groulx replied to a question about the line combinations.
Did he let it slip that it’s expected we’ll be getting back those three guys? Possibly. The return of Taffe has been a concern for many fans. The return of Duco and Repik would be nice as well.
Jordan Henry thought the team did a good job of carrying the play for majority of the game. He thought that they had some chances but couldn’t finish them. He said, “It was the first game for a lot of guys and many of them have never played together before, it was a step in the right direction for sure. I think when guys gel a little bit more, we get a few more days, one more game and then by saturday the guys should be ready to roll.”
The game was only 22 seconds old when the first fight broke out. Jimmy Bonneau nailed Daniel Steiner of the Crunch into the boards for which he received a two minute boarding penalty. Bonneau had barely skated away when Tim Miller was there to drop the gloves and come to the defense of his teammate. Scroll to the bottom for the fight video.
The Crunch scored two goals during that five minute boarding penalty and it was all they needed to win the game. Jared Aulin and Brock McBride scored the goals for the Crunch.
Jamie Johnson got the Amerks within one with a power play goal at 13:30 of the first period, assisted by Mike York and Jordan Henry.
The second period was scoreless but did have some excitement with Trevor Gillies and Kevin Harvey getting into a fight. Again, scroll to the bottom of the post for the video. Gillies received a total of 19 minutes in penalties (two 2 minute roughing, 5 for fighting, and 10 min for a game misconduct).
Trevor Frischmon scored at 13:07 of the third period to give the Crunch the 3-1 lead. Kevin Harvey scored an empy net goal to put the nail in the coffin with 1:16 left in the third period.
The game had no meaning in the standings or the season at all but that did not mean the players looked at the game the same way. They were disappointed in the loss. No one walked out of the locker room simply thinking it was just a preseason game. It was a loss and you never want to lose a game.
Some player observations:
A player that was noticed on the ice for every shift was Graham Mink. This guy was in the corners, was in front of the net, was pushing opposing players around. He’s a big guy and plays big. Mink plays the way that everyone had hoped Mark Mancari would have played. Mink was also quick to respond to when Kevin Harvey gave a nice bump to Chris Taylor at the start of the second period.
Evgeny Dadonov played well. He’s a fast skater and makes some great passes. During the second period he was crossing center ice, started skating backwards, received a pass and went in on a breakway. He didn’t score but his skating was impressive the way he quickly turned around and went towards the net. I’m really looking forward to see what he’s capable of once some chemistry is formed on the ice.
Benoit Groulx said this about Dadonov, “he’s still a pretty young player. He’ll have to go through the same process as our young guys last year, everythings going to be all new for him. He’s a good prospect.”
Jordan Henry can be a monster at times. If he can stay out of the penalty box he’ll be on the ice a lot. If you’re curious about the A on his jersey he said, “I’m not sure. They didn’t say anything to me. It was just there when I put it on. I wouldn’t read too much into it.” Henry was in the Panthers lineup against the Calgary Flames last week when Theo Fleury scored a goal. Henry grew up in the Calgary area and grew up watching Fleury play for the Flames. I asked him about playing against someone like Fleury and he said, “It was pretty electric in that place when he scored. You play against a lot of those guys. It’s defintely exciting to see those guys that you watched and you see what they can still do.”
Keaton Ellerby made some bad plays, he’s better than that. Some sloppy puck control and a few bad giveaways. The harder the door slams at the bench the more you can tell a player is upset with himself. Ellerby is a fantastic skater, just needs to handle the puck better ALL THE TIME. It’s easy to see why Jason Garrison is with the Panthers in Finland, he’s consistent. Ellerby did have some good plays as well but the bad ones stick out.
Tyler Plante let in two goals early in the first period but after the first four minutes he calmed down and was consistent. He should be good to go after a few real practices.
Jimmy Bonneau vs Tim Miller
Trevor Gillies vs Kevin Harvey.
You can view some more pictures from the game here – http://www.flickr.com/photos/letsgoamerks/sets/72157622345278187/
The team is back at ESL on Monday morning. We’ll probably be hearing about the first round of cuts any day now. The Amerks travel to Syracuse on Tuesday night for the third and final preseason game prior to the home opener Saturday October 3rd at Blue Cross Arena.