Jeff Taffe scored the game winning goal with 65 seconds left on the scoreboard to end the Amerks three game road trip and extend the teams winning streak to four games. Mike York made a great pass to Taffe who then sent a rocket of a shot into the top corner past Enroth (video embedded below).
“I don’t think too many goals go in in this league without a screen or something like that from that far out,” Taffe said talking about the goal. When asked if he saw an opening Taffe replied with, “There wasn’t much, I was just more or less trying to get a good shot off before the guy caught me and it worked out pretty well.”
The last time the Amerks won a three games in three days weekend was October 23-25 against Syracuse and Albany. The only other time they’ve had a winning streak of four games was during their 11 game winning streak early in the season. What was missing in between the long stretch between these streaks? Mike York, that’s who was missing. The Amerks are 6-3 since York made his return.
Jeff Taffe talked about how great York is on the team in terms of scoring, making plays, and even killing penalties. Taffe said, “I think he see’s the ice better than anybody on our team.”
“There’s no more questions about him, he’s healthy and he’s playing well,” Rory Fitzpatrick said. “Off the ice is no longer a question and on the ice you know he never was a question.”
Fitzpatrick hurt his knee on Sunday and was questionable for Sundays game. Scott Hotham had participated in warm ups just in case Rory could not play. Fitzpatrick said warmups went well, the doctor checked out his knee, and he was all set to play.
“It feels like we’re playing the hockey we were playing at the start of the year,” is what Tyler Plante mentioned that he said to Salak after the game. Every player knows they went through a mid season slump and every player is hoping that it’s over. Plante commented on that saying, “We’re rolling again, having a lot more fun. It’s a way better atmosphere in the room.”
Travis Turnbull put the Pirates on the scoreboard first with a goal at 8:13 of the first period. Tyler Plante appeared to bobble the shot and gave up a rebound to Turnbull who put it in the net.
Victor Oreskovich tied the game early in the second period at 1:51 knocking in a rebound with authority while parked in front of the net. The line of Oreskovich, Duco, and Brine was busy for much of the game making plays happen.
The Amerks took the lead at 14:22 of the second period when Mike York scored his 10th goal of the season and fourth since returning to the lineup on February 19th. York crossed the blue line with the puck, passed it to Taffe and Taffe passed it back to York who was open and with Enroth out of position the Amerks took a 2-1 lead.
Portland tied the game at 4:39 of the third period off a power play goal by Cody McCormick. Rory Fitzpatrick dropped to the ice in an attempt to block a pass from Derek Whitmore to McCormick. Whitmore didn’t bite and easily passed it around Fitzpatrick to McCormick who scored.
With only 65 seconds left in the game Mike York sent a beautiful pass up the ice to Jeff Taffe breaking into the Pirates zone. Taffe took the puck, stopped around the top of the face off circle and sent a rocket of a shot into the top corner.
Tyler Plante won his second in a row making 28 saves in the game. One of the questions coming into the game on Sunday was how tired they would be at the tail end of the road trip. Plante said the team had a sleeper bus for the road trip and that he probably got a better nights sleep on Friday after the game on the way to Toronto than he did in the hotel room on Saturday night.
There’s only 15 games left in the season, nine of which are on the road. A comfortable and well rested team is a winning team, let’s hope they keep it up. It also sounds like some team time together is just what may have been needed.
“Maybe this road trip was good, we’re together so much and it builds some character too,” Mike York said.
The Amerks are back home on Friday March 12th for a game vs the Albany River Rats. Tell your friends and family, this Amerks team is exciting to watch again! It’s also another night of $1 beers and hot dogs, a deal that’s too good to pass up on.
Here’s a clip of Jeff Taffe’s goal I was able to snag off of the scoreboard:
Enjoy and share!