The Rochester Americans and Brian Gionta surprised everyone for the second time this season, this time announcing they’ve agreed to a one game professional tryout. Gionta will make his debut for the Amerks on Friday February 2, 2018 at Blue Cross Arena when the team hosts the Toronto Marlies.
“Brian has been practicing with us on a regular basis since early in the season,” said Amerks GM Randy Sexton in a statement. “These practices were part of his preparation for the Olympics and, given the Olympics are just around the corner, a game was the final tune-up for him to get ready to captain the U.S. Olympic team. The entire Buffalo Sabres organization wishes Brian all the very best in his pursuit of a gold medal.”
(Featured photo from Amerks.com)
Gionta has been practicing with the Amerks since October 10th, five days after the 2017/2018 regular season started. He’s joined the team for just about every practice since minus gameday skates as well as with the team for off ice workouts.
I’ve been to a majority of those practices and he quickly became a part of the team other than playing in games. He is a part of the grind with everyone else including taking bumps along with giving them. The practices and this one game deal wouldn’t have happened if there had ever been any concerns he wasn’t a part of the team.
When asked, coaches and players have consistently talked about how great it’s been having him around the locker room. They’re able to see how he comes to the rink prepared, takes care of himself to stay in top shape.
He’s always skated with and switched in and out of drills with what is considered the fourth line of Eric Cornel, Dalton Smith, Adam Krause and Garret Ross. We’ll find out later in the week if that’s who he skates with in the game.
The big question is, what about after the Olympics? “My main focus is going to compete for the gold medal,” Brian Gionta said on ESPN Rochester. “We’ll see what’s out there and go from there.”
Gionta flies out on Wednesday February 7th to join Team USA for the 2018 Olympics in South Korea.
Listen to the ESPN Rochester interview here: