The Rochester Americans did on Friday night what the Toronto Marlies did to them last season, dominated the game and won big. This was an exciting game to watch and a game that made me really think that this team is the real deal. The Amerks beat the Toronto Marlies 5-2 with two power play goals and a short handed goal.
The Amerks went into Friday nights game ranked 9th in the league for it’s power play. With two more power play goals they’ll continue to move up in the ranks.
Benoit Groulx talked about special teams saying, “As i said many times last year, special teams are key in this league.”
The Amerks set the tone within the first five minutes of the game. They got the puck into the Marlies end and kept it there. They were moving the puck around so easily and for so long they made a line change. I looked to the person sitting behind me to ask if I was really seeing what I was seeing.
David Brine opened the scoring at 14:33 of the first period scoring a short handed goal assisted by Michal Repik. It was Brines second goal of the season. Repik took a loose puck from in front of the Amerks end and took off down towards the other end. As he neared the faceoff circle he fed a perfect pass over a Marlies stick and across the ice to a streaking David Brine who made it look easy.
On that same Marlies power play the Amerks had another great scoring chance and came close to scoring two short handed goals.
The Amerks had two power play opportunities but they were not able to get anything going. Benoit Groulx thought that had a big impact on the team at that point saying, “I thought we had a good first period, created many chances unfortunately i thought our power play in the first took some momentum away from our game.”
They came back around early in the second period.
Jeff Taffe opened the scoring at 3:33 of the first period for his third goal of the season. A Marlies player was trying to go along the back boards to get the puck out when Mike York made it look easy just waiting for him to skate by, poked the puck away, and then passed it to Jeff Taffe who had no problems scoring against an out of position goalie.
Michal Repik followed up with a power play goal (his third of the season) less than three minutes later.
Jason Garrison scored his first goal of the season 36 seconds later on the power play as well to give the Amerks a commanding 4-0 lead. Garrison received a pass from Chris Taylor and unleased his leathal slap shot to score the goal.
The Amerks fifth goal of the game at 16:18 of the second put the game away. Jeffe Taffe and Mike York were skating into the Marlies end. Taffe passed the puck to York who I thought would take the pass and score but he missed the pass. In the past few years we would have expected a giveaway at that point and seen the opposing team take the puck out. The opposite happened though. York was able to regain control of the puck, went behind the Marlies net, turned around, back the other way and with a simple back hand pass to Taffe we saw Taffe score his fourth goal of the season.
In the midst of all of that Alexander Salak was making a number of beautiful saves. At one point his left leg came out of nowhere to lay flat on the ice and stop a puck. He also looked like a hawk at times. The puck would go up in the air and his head scans the ice in a split second to find where it was.
To us watching in the stands it was an exciting game. We won and we won big. Are there still challenges ahead? Sure, but compared to previous years this was an awesome game.
Upon hearing the score of the game one our friends left a wedding early to get to the game to see the third period.
The real test for the team will be the Saturday afternoon rematch at 3pm in Toronto. A week ago we saw the Amerks win on Friday night but traveled to Albany the next day and looked horrible.
Tyler Plante will get the start in goal on Saturday in Toronto.
A few more thoughts:
** Kenndal McArdle continued his agressive play. He’s getting into the mix and was just about to get into a fight late in the third before the linesmen pulled him away. Benoit Groulx speaks highly of McArdle with his role on the third line. Talking about McArdles role on the team Groulx said, “you’ve got to provoke some things, be a momentum changer, so far he understands his role very well. He’s a tough guy to play against with the speed he has and the intesntiy that he shows.”
** Shawan Matthias is noticeably thinner and looks to be in much better shape. Last year he seemed to have one speed. He was not a game changer on Friday but he showed some hustle and was able to accelerate quickly and get in to try and break up a play. In the first period he even took a roughing penalty.
** Anyone else notice the people that were at the same seemed to be having more fun than usual? Amazing what a great win can do.
** Andrew Sweetland had a better game tonight playing with Jeff Taffe and Mike York. Maybe that’s all he needs is a couple of skilled players that will bring his game out.
** Rory Fitzpatrick seemed to have an extra step tonight. He was covering his man well and even through a couple of good hits.
** The lack of player quotes recently has been due to a change in work schedules which has not allowed me to hang around longer after the games.
** THANK YOU AMERKS for working with me to accomidate my needs to be able to at least get into the post game press conference with the coach.