Amerks Stumble out of the Gate

By Erin Monagan

New Season, new rookies, new team. Better season than last? So far it doesn’t seem it.

The Amerks are 0-3-1-1 after five games with five different teams. So how do they look? After five games and 43 power plays, there is only one power play goal. It seems like last season all over again. Fans chant that power plays are supposed to be used to score, and after some lines return to the bench, a booing can be heard throughout the crowd.

Sadly, within the first four games, the Amerks lost four players. Andrew Peters has a nagging shoulder problem and is out indefinitely, Chris Taylor has a hyper-extended elbow, and should return in about three weeks, Denis Hamel who was sent to the Amerks by the Sabres at the beginning of the season was recalled because of a day-to-day injury that Jochen Hecht sustained, and finally, Dmitri Kalinin who has always been a superb defenseman for the Amerks, was sent down by the Sabres as a warning of where he could end up if he didn’t pick up his game, was recalled after just one game. Also there is a threat that Jeremy Adduono, a 20 or more goal scorer, may not return because the Amerks already have too many forwards.

The rookies seem to be very uncomfortable with the puck, hardly being able to hold onto it, let alone pass it to each other. Communication does not seem good on the ice; maybe because of the fact that there are two foreigners, Jiri Novotny (Czech), and Radoslav Hecl (Slovak) barely speak any English.

And the rookies people expected more from this season, Novotny (“has great skills” has 0 points and is -2), Paul Gaustad (a solid two-way centerman, at 6’5” size is also a plus is the best rookie with two assists), and Jason Pominville (quick, 57 goals last season in 66 games, now has 0 points) and Ryan Miller (overall has been talked about since he has been signed is now 0-2-1-1) have been a huge disappointment.

The two rookies who are what the fans expected are Ryan Miller and Sean McMarrow who both are willing to drop the gloves when they need to.

The only good thing so far seems to be the return of Ales Kotalik, and even he has yet to prove his worth to return to the Sabres.

Jason Botterill is leading in points with 3 goals, and Denis Hamel leads in shots with 23 before being called to the Sabres.

Coach Randy Cunneyworth returns for his third year of coaching and has signed a one-year deal. He insists that the power play will come back once the players are more familiar with each other.

The Amerks will play four more games before the end of October, and only time will tell where this team will go.