The video presentation...awesome.
The player introductions...great.
The ring ceremony...amazing.
The banner drop...fantastic.
The game itself...not so much.
After an amazing pregame ceremony celebrating (for the last time) the 2009-10 Calder Cup Championship the Amerks silenced the crowd and left Hershey with a road win...something not many teams can say they have recently.
Hershey started out great. Skating hard, getting to loose pucks, taking the body, and jumped out to a 1-0 league on Brian Willsie's (2nd of year) power play tally 6 minutes in.
But after about 10 minutes Hershey seemed to disappear while Rochester found their legs. Some of that is to be expected. Lots of emotion on the ice before the game, lots of standing around waiting, and lots of guys that weren't a part of it that were stuck watching. All of that has an effect on teams. Hershey came out firing and then tailed off while Rochester, who were stuck in the lock room for an extra 15-20 minutes, came out slow and then turned it on.
For the middle 40 minutes Rochester controlled the play. They were more physical, they were getting to the loose pucks, and they took control on the scoreboard, taking a 3-1 after 2 periods.
Hershey did make it interesting late after Andrew Gordon scored his 3rd of the year on another power play. They pushed hard over the last 10 minutes and on multiple occasions almost got the puck past the Rochester goalie, Jacob Markstrom. Even in the closing seconds they had chances...one or two more ticks on the clock and Hershey might have scored.
But they didn't. It's only one game and with all the extracurricular activities taking place before the game I think we can chalk this up to a team just not as focused as their opponent. Nothing to worry about.
Dany Sabourin got his first start of the season after being reassigned by Washington on Friday. Honestly, he looked bad to start the game. Coach French said that he probably didn't have a chance at any of the goals, but I would tend to disagree with that. Sure the Amerks played well but Dany could have gotten some of them.
But remember he hadn't played in a while. He served as the backup to Neuvirth in Washington since the season started on the 8th. And he hadn't played in an actual game since a preseason game on October 3rd when he played about 25 minutes. So while Dany (and French) won't use rust as an excuse I think it is a legitimate argument for his play early on. As the game went on he made some great saves so I think it was just a matter of getting his feet under him and seeing some real game action.
It didn't help that his defense was letting guys crash the net and stand in front of him either. Overall it was a great game for about 20 minutes and a terrible game for the middle 40.
I am pretty confident the real Bears were the ones playing at the beginning and the end of the game.
My Three Stars of the Game:
- Michal Repik - a goal and an assist for the Amerks
- Joe Callahan - 2 assists, both the primary assists
- Andrew Gordon - 1 goal and played hard the whole game
What Went Right:
- The Power Play - they had 5 chances and scored twice which is pretty good overall. At times they were a little to 'cute' and looking for the extra and/or perfect pass but overall they had consistent good pressure.
- The Penalty Kill - on 7 opportunities the Amerks managed only 1 goal and that came with 1 second left on Kroll's penalty in the first period. There were some tense moments as Rochester did get set up a couple times but overall, like the power play, a very good performance.
- The Pre-Game - the celebration was great. Seeing the 79-80 Bears team handing out rings to last years players was pretty cool, even though I wasn't born when that team won. Lots of people around me seemed to really enjoy seeing the players. The announcement that Mitch Lamoureux will be inducted into the Hall of Fame was pretty cool too. And how about that video presentation...great too see the highlights and I thought the scenes of the players getting dressed in the locker room were pretty cool too. Great job on that!
- Souray's shot - how about that slapshot. He let it rip a couple of times in the 1st and it was quite impressive...a definite weapon that will surely play dividends for the Bears this season.
What Didn't Go So Well:
- Too Many Penalties - Hershey gave Rochester 7 power plays and took 9 penalties in all. And a lot of those were the of the lazy skating variety, hooking, tripping, and slashing...all signs that Hershey was being outworked. Yes there were some questionable calls by referee Ryan Fraser but I think the only 'bad' call was the Boyd Kane slash at the end of the 2nd. Most of the others were the right call...the problem was that there were calls that should have been made against Rochester that weren't.
- The Middle 40 Minutes - the overall play, from the goalie to the forwards, was seriously lacking for most of the game. They were sharp early and corrected it late but the middle was bad. Not totally unexpected but bad nonetheless.