From Where I Sat, Amerks Edition: Hamilton Bulldogs

Tonight marked the ninth of ten meetings between the Hamilton Bulldogs (Montreal Racists) and the Rochester Americans. Things were certainly looking glum coming into this game for the Amerks, as they had a record of 2-4-1-1 against the Bulldogs this season coming before tonight’s game. Unfortunately, they were unable to capitalize on a strong first period and fell to 2-5-1-1 after one of their worst performances of the season. Tonight’s final score was Hamilton 7, Rochester 3.

The Good:

– The Amerks started the game off very strong and went into the locker room with a 2 goal lead on goals from Corey Tropp (5) and Paul Szczechura (11).

– The entire first period. They had great pressure and passes were connecting all of the place. They definitely made it seem like they wanted the win. Perhaps fans should have taken this as a warning sign. I know I certainly did.

– They finally killed off a Luke Adam penalty!!

The Bad:

– The remainder of the game was about dumb penalties and forgetting how to not play entire periods in your own zone.

– I wonder how this game would have turned out had they actually capitalized on some of the power play opportunities they had in the first period…

– Do you blame this on Drew MacIntyre? Not really, but he has not been all that good this season. The man was a bloody rebound machine tonight. (23 GP, 8-12-2-1, 3.19 GAA, 0.899 SV%)

The Ugly:

– Everything after the first 20 minutes of hockey. They allowed 6 (!!!!!) unanswered goals before they finally scored their third goal. Which was ultimately wiped out by a Hamilton empty net goal less than a minute later.

– The penalty kill. Want to know why they lost 7-3? How about letting Hamilton capitalize on 4 of their 7 power play opportunities. Including a 5 on 3 early on in the third period that came from an absolutely stupid crosschecking penalty by Drew Schiestel.

– The officiating. Normally the officiating is bad, but tonight it was absolutely ugly. Tropp was called for boarding AFTER the whistle early in the first period on an invisible icing call. I have never see that call before in my life after the whistle. Colin Stuart was called for boarding in the second period. I am still not convinced that was boarding. Also, with less than 20 seconds remaining in the game, Hamilton goaltender Nathan Lawson played the puck in the restricted zone with no call. The second referee (Graham Skilliter) was in the same corner that Lawson played the puck in. If you are going to call an interference penalty in the last few minutes of a 7-3 hockey game, you might as well call them all.

– I love how Jamie Koharski called TJ Brennan for interference in a 7-3 game with less than 3 minutes remaining in regulation. Koharski is usually bad at his job, but to call his officiating tonight terrible would be the understatement of the year. The Stuart boarding call, for example, was made when he was at the other end of the ice. The other official, who was nearer to the play, was not going to call anything.

Final Thoughts:

I know I spent a fair amount of time complaining about the officiating, but the truth is that you cannot blame a loss on the officials. Bad calls happen, but good teams kill most of them when they do. Then again, good teams usually do not do things that put them in a situation to take a bad call.

The Amerks are a very green hockey club, but that is no excuse for being as inconsistent as they are on a game to game or period to period basis. As they currently stand, there is no reason to think that if they do make the playoffs that they will make it very far. They currently sit 4 points behind the San Antonio Rampage for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Unless they can be more consistent the playoffs will also be a pipe dream for the Amerks and their fans. Sadly, there is no benefit to missing the playoffs (or tanking) in the AHL like there is in the NHL.

Their next game will be at home on Wednesday (2/22) against the Eastern Conference powerhouse Hershey Bears (Washington Capitals). The Bears won the first game of the season series in a shootout. Here is hoping for 2 points out of that game. If the Sabres are not going to make the playoffs, it would at least be nice to see the Amerks do so. Not that they would make it very far.

In ???? we trust.


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