By Ryan J. Harr
The Rochester Americans hosted their annual Hometown Heroes Night Friday, the one night a year where the Amerks honor and give back to the area’s first responders. As part of the night, and prior to the American Hockey League matchup between the Amerks and Toronto Marlies, The Blue Cross Arena hosted a friendly exhibition between the Rochester Police Dept. and a squad comprised of Rochester’s finest among the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) Jail Bureau.
RPD opened the scoring early in the first period and scored throughout the game with some MCSO markers mixed in, but it was RPD that finished with 10-3 victory to go along with bragging rights for the second straight year.
Captain James McGowan of the MCSO started playing at young age but has since returned to the ice following a 20-year layoff from playing the sport.
“I love hockey,” said Capt. McGowan. “Everything about the game of hockey, I enjoy. I like watching, playing and coming to Amerks games. It is so much fun playing because I do not like jogging or running. Playing hockey is not only exercise but it is a positive and fun way to escape what we see and do every day in the line of duty.”
Lieutenant Ralph Montinarelli of the RPD has been playing since he was 12 years old and continues to enjoy playing the game.
WATCH: RPD TAKES ON MCSO IN 2018 HOMETOWN HEROES GAME
“I have been playing consecutively while not taking a year off,” said Lt. Montinarelli. “When I was a kid growing up, I was often times watching the game on TV and I remember watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs and I thought it was an awesome sport I just could not skate. So after learning to skate, I have been playing ever since I can remember. Now I really enjoying playing with the guys I work with and it is great to play with them because they are like my brothers.”
Normally, the members of both departments play a few times throughout week while also mixing some out-of-state competition as they travel to Canada for the International Police Tournament. RPD has been taking a team north of the boarder and has been very successful over the last decade as well as the MCSO.
Last week, several Amerks players and coaches spent the afternoon delivering coffee and donuts to local firehouses and police stations in the downtown Rochester area.
“We can’t say more about the Amerks organization,” said Montinarelli. “They have been so generous throughout this whole week, comping us tickets and letting us play on the big ice. It’s awesome and we can’t say anything more about it. The support we receive from them, their devotion to showing first responders, EMT’s, fire fighters, they really do care about what we do. It’s second to none. The organization is very high-class. They’ve been to roll calls, they’ve been to firehouses, and just letting everyone know they appreciate what we do. We don’t get a lot of that and that’s really nice to hear.”
As a thank you for everything they do for the community, the team presented both officers with their very own Amerks jerseys.
"My nine-year-old daughter already called dibs on it for her bedroom wall," said Montinarelli. "That was an awesome surprise."