Posted at: 10/11/2012 4:01 PM
Updated at: 10/11/2012 6:07 PM
By: Robin De Wind
There’s no end in sight for the NHL lockout which means the Rochester Amerks are the only game in town.
This has been a different year for the Amerks with no NHL season. The team has had two full weeks of training camp, two preseason games and help from younger Sabres players who still help strengthen the roster.
Sabres Head Coach Lindy Ruff and Sabres General Manager Darcy Regeir are spending many of their mornings in Rochester. Instead of honing the Sabres lineup, their eyes are on Rochester. As a result of the lockout, AHL teams are stacked with young players with two-way contracts.
Ron Rolston, Amerks Head Coach, said, “Cody Hodgson, Marcus Foligno, Kevin Porter you could go on and on. They're going to get better just with our practice and tempo we play. The fans will see the tempo in the league will be much quicker from the players dropped down from the NHL League.”
Being able to still play is an advantage for the Amerks, who cut their teeth in Rochester last year and were able to contribute in Buffalo. As a result, the Amerks lines are deep. Veteran center and team captain Kevin Porter is already fitting in.
Kevin Porter, Amerks Forward, said, “Great guys, on and off the ice, right up and down our lineup. Our forwards are great. We have a lot of skill. We have a lot of skill on defense. We move the puck every day in practice is a battle and I think we’re going to be pretty good.”
The younger Amerks are also getting new looks. Sabres top prospect Zemgus Girgensons make his professional debut Friday. At 18 years old, he is the youngest player in the league.
Also hoping to set the tone, second year work-horse Phil Varone. He became Rochester’s biggest playmaker last season.
Varone said, “When you get called up its just a game, now they get to see you as a person off the ice how you work ethic is how you are after practice away from the rink how you are as a person.”
The Amerks take on the Syracuse Crunch Friday in the season opener at 7:05 at the Blue Cross Arena.