From Where I Sat: Utica Comets at Rochester Americans, 10/11/2013

Friday night marked the first of ten meetings between the Utica Comets and the Rochester Americans. This is also the first ever meeting of the Comets and the Amerks, as the Comets moved from Peoria this summer after the Vancouver Canucks purchased the Peoria Rivermen. I’m confident in saying that every Amerks fan in the building was hoping the game wouldn’t turn out like the home opener. Unfortunately for the busload or so of Comets fans in attendance, the game was indeed the opposite of last week with the Amerks winning by a score of 4-1. After the jump you’ll find The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

The Good:

-Pretty much everything about the Amerks looked better than last week. Hackett looked much more comfortable in net, and there seemed to be actual chemistry between the lines. Is this a product of the Utica Comets not being the Grand Rapids Griffins? Possibly. I also think the sting of last Friday’s embarrassing loss combined with the additional practice time made a difference. 

-They managed to complete their power plays without taking a penalty during one!

-Also, they managed to score a power play goal. Yeah, I’m digging really deep for these positives.

-Hackett looked pretty good. I said last week that I don’t expect him to be as awful as many fans do. Last night I was vindicated, but who knows what we will see for the remainder of the season.

-I thought Tim Schaller had a decent pro debut. Not a great one, but an outing I wouldn’t complain about. He had the lone assist on Kevin Sundher’s bad angle goal that put the Amerks up 3-0.

-Hey, how about that Luke Adam guy? Three goals in two games on nine shots. That 33.3% shooting percentage won’t last, but it would be great if it did.

The Bad:

-I’m not one to criticize officials, but Terry Koharski REALLY grinds my gears. There’s a reason Amerks fans groan when they see him officiating a game. Apparently he does well enough elsewhere to keep his job (and get playoff work), but he seems to usually be in the spotlight for poor calls against the Amerks. Phil Varone got absolutely plastered by former Amerk Alex Biega tonight, and Koharski gave him the penalty for complaining about the non-call. If Koharski gets that call correct Varone receives no penalty. Yeah, I’m not a fan of Koharski.

-I was going to say the Amerks’ inability to draw a penalty, but that was erased in the third period.

-The coaches might want to do something about being outshot again. It didn’t end up being an issue with the score, but this could be a problem down the road. Shots are 68-41 in favor of opposing teams after two games. Actually, this has been a big problem for the Amerks and the Sabres for the past couple of seasons. Hmmm… (Side note: I’d love to do some advanced stats for the Amerks, but with the way the AHL tracks shots that will never happen.)

-I know they’re in Utica, but someone could have done a better job with the Comet’s abbreviation. UTI? Really? REALLY?!? Maybe that’s just how my mind works.

The Ugly:

-There wasn’t much to call ugly in this game for the Amerks, but the last 10 seconds or so of the game got out of hand quickly. With about 7 seconds remaining Alex Biega [again] decided he wanted to board one of his former teammates. This time it was rookie Colin Jacobs, who appeared to be injured after the play. The Comets’ Darren Archibald got into it with Frederick Roy, and his jersey ended up coming off. (I should add that it’s highly likely he didn’t have his fight strap attached properly, because his jersey came off much too easily.) With his jersey off, Archibald got into a scrap with Colin Jacobs, who really did not appear to want anything to do with fighting him. So basically Archibald got away with punching an injured player. That’s just not something you should be doing. After the game Cassidy made it clear that he didn’t like the way Archibald acted, so I expect to see a staged fight between Roy, Bagnell, or perhaps McGuire next Saturday. (Assuming Archibald doesn’t receive a suspension (I doubt he will) or the Amerks don’t find a new face puncher before then.)

Final Thoughts:

As I said before, the Comets are not the Griffins, but this was a much better team effort than fans saw last week. For the past two seasons the Amerks have at times played an awful home game, and then had a solid game to bounce back from it. So I wasn’t entirely surprised to see the effort in Friday’s game. The question now is which team will show up in Syracuse on Saturday to play the Crunch? Keep in mind that for the last two seasons the Amerks have had the Crunch’s number, so you would hope that continues (FREE POINTS!).  The next home game is 10/18 against the Toronto Marlies. So, yeah, that’s probably not a game you want to be at. I would advise holding off until Saturday (10/19) to see the rematch with the Comets. Definitely go to that one, not the one against the Marlies.

In Cassidy we trust.


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