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Live from Hamilton: Amerks back in Sabres' fold

HAMILTON, Ont -- We've made it high atop Copps Coliseum, and I mean high, for tonight's Rochester Amerks season opener against the Hamilton Bulldogs (Montreal's top affiliate). Memo to Canada: These gondolas are just killer. This one wasn't Edmonton-bad but it was bad enough. Nor was it Calgary-bad but I was hoping not to deal with this in the AHL.

Up, out, down and all with views available through the floor. At least it was mostly enclosed but still. ... You want pictures? No chance. I was walking -- and looking straight ahead. BUT the Oklahoma City radio guy apparently filmed it last year. So you can check out what I just did. Yeesh.

We're in the AHL, of course, so sometimes things go wrong. The lights were dark and the scoreboard was running the opening video to the cliche of the Star Wars theme and what happens? Blue screen of death. Ooops.

First bit of news: Williamsville native David Leggio will start in goal for Rochester. He has been ill and nursing concussion symptoms and coach Ron Rolston told me this week he didn't know if he could go tonight.  The starters will be Mark Voakes at center between Colin Stuart and Michael Ryan, with Brayden McNabb and Shaone Morrisonn (remember him?) on defense.

Stay tuned from some observations on some of the Sabres' top prospects.

---Mike Harrington

First Period

The Amerks started up front this way: Colin Stuart-Mark Voakes-Michael Ryan, Derek Whitmore-Travis Turnbull-Zack Kassian, Marcus Foligno-Phil Varone-Corey Tropp and Riley Boychuk-Jonathan Parker-Shawn Szydlowski.
On defense it was: Brayden McNabb-Shoane Morrisonn, Dennis Persson-Drew Schiestel and T.J. Brennan-Alex Biega.

Captaincy: Colin Stuart has the C but it's for tonight only. Everyone up here in gondola land agrees the Amerks are waiting for Matt Ellis to return from Europe to give someone the C on a regular basis.

12:00 left: No score although Tropp should have had the game's first goal 1:58 but rookie referee Darcy Burchell ruled the net was off its moorings. Was knocked off by a Hamilton player after the puck went in but no video replay in the AHL. McNabb issued a crunching check that went unpenalized, but it was clearly an elbow to the head of Aaron Palushaj. Brendan Shanahan would give you 2-3 games, kid.

9:44 left: That infernal stadium anthem, "Who Let the Dogs Out?" gets played after a goal here and the first one of the season was scored by Frederic St. Denis on a blistering shot from the left point that a screened Leggio had no chance on.  Amerks trail, 1-0.

2:26 left: The Amerks might struggle to score goals at times, especially without Luke Adam, and it's easy to see why. After the first  3-4 minutes, they've done very little. Have not noticed Kassian or Foligno at all to this point. Leggio very good.

Last time I was here -- a 1992 neutral-site game between the Leafs and Quebec Nordiques. Came with the late, great Tom Borrelli, who was clad in his finest Leafs blues.

End-1st: Both teams had seven shots on goal and it remains 1-0 for Hamilton through one.

Second Period

Of note: The building seats around 17,000 but the upper level is curtained off, leaving in the range of 8-9,000 in the lower bowl. It's less than half full. I'm betting 4,000 or so in the house. I would imagine the Amerks will get at least double that for Thursday's home opener against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (cheap plug: I'll be there).

16:20 left: The Amerks have run into big penalty trouble and they pay a price as St. Denis pounds home his second of the night on a two-man advantage. With his team already down a man, Voakes got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for shooting the puck  after the whistle and the Amerks also got a too many men on the ice penalty for having four guys on the ice when it should have been a 5-on-3. Amerks trail, 2-0.

15:05 left: Leggio has stood on his head in this period but the Amerks haven't survived the penalty trouble. Brock Trotter scores on a quick snapshot from the slot and Ron Rolston goes for his timeout. Amerks trail, 3-0.

13:00 left: Amerks come up  dry on a power play, with Corey Tropp stopped from in tight by Hamilton goalie Nathan Lawson, who played some last year for the Islanders.

9:01 left: The Amerks get on the board for the first time back with the Sabres as Jonathan Parker bangs home a rebound after a 2-on-1 with Whitmore passing to Kassian. A power play goal. Amerks trail, 3-1. I've liked Kassian in this period. Skating well, physical.

8:20 left: Leggio with a great left pad save on Trotter, who was in alone from the center red line. Leggio has been the Amerks' first star tonight by a mile.

6:29 left: The goal definitely helped the Amerks' energy level. Kassian just missed a tip-in from the edge of the crease on a Whitmore pass.

6:16 left: Just as I said that, a bad break for Leggio & Co. as Dennis Persson tips home Ian Schultz's centering attempt past the startled goalie and into his own net. Amerks trail, 4-1.

2:00 left: The Rochester defenseman I've liked best tonight? Shaone Morrisonn, believe it or not.

End-2nd: It's 4-1 for the Bulldogs through two. Hamilton had a 14-12 edge in shots in and it's 21-19 through two. Had a big scrap right at the buzzer with Corey Tropp and Ian Schultz throwing plenty of haymakers after a scrum in the corner that started with a late hit after the buzzer on Biega. Foligno jumped right in too. That was good to see.

Third Period

15:23: T.J. Brennan wipes out a power play during a delayed penalty with a foolish frustration flash behind the play. Not very bright.

14:36 left: Trotter makes it 5-1 on a penalty shot, smoking Leggio with a neat deke to the backhand. Shot was awarded after the puck was glove out of the crease (sorry didn't see by who and you don't get many replays in the minors).

11:35 left: Drew Schiestel helped off the ice after a collision in the Hamilton zone. Not much weight on his left leg. Remember, this was his first game since January after a knee injury ended his season in Portland prematurely.

Game over: The Amerks lost, 5-2, with Colin Stuart getting the other goal with 2:09 left. Final shots were 32-27 for  Rochesterl. Your intrepid blogger had more info posted here and never hit Publish and it thus went into cyber vapor lock. Apologies.



Rochester Amerks | Sabres
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John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl |

About Sabres Edge

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

@BNHarrington |

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz |