The big news out of Amerks practice this morning was that Drew MacIntyre was back on the ice with the team in net after spending some time with the Buffalo Sabres. The first thought was maybe they just sent him down for the day but Ron Rolston confirmed that MacIntyre is here for the weekend. So that brings up the next thought, are we going to see the return of the goalie rotation? MacIntyre had two solid games before being called up and since then Leggio has played pretty good and carried the team. There’s three games this weekend which means one of them will get two starts so we’ll find out tomorrow who that is.
Dennis Persson was on the ice this morning with a red no contact jersey practicing with the team. He’s been out since the first week of the season with an ankle injury and looked to be skating well. It’s not likely he’ll play this weekend but it’s a positive sign for a player that’s expected to be one of the top defensemen.
When I arrive at practice TJ Brennan was sitting on the bench without any upper pads on, it looked like he had been practicing but wasn’t anymore. Shortly after that he went off and took off all of his equipment. Rolston after practice said he wasn’t feeling well and the reply was “yea, illness.” Paul Hamilton from Buffalo is reporting that Joe Finley is up because TJ Brennan has an upper body injury. hmmmm.. the mystery around injuries! We’ll find out more as time goes.
The mystery of Michael Ryan continues and it doesn’t sound like he’s any closer to coming back. A couple of weeks ago everyone had thought he was going to be cleared to play Thanksgiving weekend but that didn’t happen. He had been practicing with a full cage and has had some practices but wasn’t out there today. Ron Rolston said his injury “could be a few things” but again stated it was not a concussion and said that if they knew what was wrong they’d have him ready to play. Rolston said that they know he’s a good veteran and they want him in the lineup but it doesn’t sound like they expect him back anytime soon.
Travis Turnbull isn’t ready to play either since Tim Conboy took him out with a hit to the head. There’s no time frame for him to return either until his symptoms are gone.
Jonathan Parker said he’s been cleared to play and will have to wait to see if he’s in the lineup. Rolston said that there may still be some strength concerns based on the demands of his position at center. He’s been out with a hand injury.
One of the positive effects of all of these call ups is that every player in the locker room can see that the opportunity is there at any time. Players are being called up based on performance at this level in the American Hockey League, not just “draft status” like we saw with the Florida Panthers at times in previous years. The players have been ready to go up and fill in positions with the Sabres and so far each and everyone one of them has been prepared and has filled in where needed. The goal of every hockey player is to get to play in the NHL so they’re putting everything they have out on the ice. That speaks volumes about the coaching staff that has been put together here in Rochester and also the dedication of the players given the lack of stability in the roster here. They’re all finding a way to work together and win games. They aren’t thinking, “we’re an ECHL team and we’ll be lucky to win.” It’s exciting watching this team as it is, can only imagine what it’d be like completely healthy and a full roster.
One of the players who’s on the fringe of being asked to go up if needed is Marcus Foligno who is still finding the consistency in his game. He’ll be an NHL player someday like his brother Nick and of course father Mike.
I asked a few players about the #LegendofJoeFinley and they all laughed about it. Marcus Foligno said they may have to start it in the locker room and Jonathan Parker laughed saying it filled up his news feed this morning and thinks just about everything was covered.
More about the weekend ahead later tonight.