The Rochester Americans are headed to the postseason for the 42nd time in the 56-year history of the franchise. A season-long battle for a playoff spot concluded in Cleveland on Saturday as the Amerks defeated the Lake Erie Monsters 2-1. Following the team’s first practice of the 2012 postseason on Tuesday at The Blue Cross Arena, Amerks.com caught up with some of the players to talk about their most memorable playoff experiences both as fan and as a player.
Derek Whitmore: "As a fan, it would have to be Game 7 in ’96 (when the Amerks defeated Portland to win the Calder Cup). I wasn’t at the game but I remember watching it on TV, it was very exciting. The most exciting playoff experience as a player was last year in Game 2 during our series (Portland) against Connecticut. I scored the tying goal late in the third period and then I scored in overtime to give our team a 2-0 series lead."
David Leggio: “My favorite playoff experience as fan was when Pominville walked Alfredsson to score the goal in Game 5 to beat the Senators and send the Sabres to the Eastern Conference Finals (in 2006). There are two moments that are the most exciting for me as a player. The first would be winning a championship at Clarkson. We were down 2-0 after the second period and came back to win in the third period. Also, winning a championship in Finland was a special moment for me as well.”
Paul Szczechura: “It would have to be Doug Gilmore of the Maple Leafs, his backhand wrap-around in double overtime to beat the Blues in the 1993 division finals. As a player, in college we beat Lake Superior State in a best-of-three series, winning Game 3 in overtime.”
Head Coach Ron Rolston: “My favorite playoff moment as a fan was the first year my brother (Brian Rolston) was playing for the New Jersey Devils and they won the Stanley Cup that year. I was able to drive down for Game 4 and I saw them win the Cup in person that night. To be down in the locker room after the game and to see the celebration was outstanding. For me, as a coach, being in the World Championships and playing in the crossover games, which are like playoff games, against international opponents like Canada, has to be my favorite moment as a coach.”
Marcus Foligno: “I remember Buffalo’s run to the Cup finals in ’99, when they faced Dallas. I was there for Game 6 that was decided in the third overtime but I fell asleep and missed the chance to see the Cup. As a player, it would have to be last year with Sudbury Wolves, we were the 7th seed, and we swept Ottawa in the first round.”
Brayden McNabb: “My favorite playoff moment as a fan was when the Avalanche won the Cup in 2001 against the New Jersey Devils. I was a big fan of Patrick Roy and Peter Forsberg. The most exciting moment for me as a player was winning the championship last year in the WHL with the Kootenay Ice.”
Phil Varone: “I was a huge fan of the Red Wings growing up and the game where Yzerman scored in overtime against the Blues has to be my favorite moment. As a player my favorite moment was in my third year of juniors, we were in the Western Conference Finals, we lost in five games but every game went to overtime, but I scored our overtime winner.”
Rochester faces off against the Toronto Marlies in the first round of the 2012 Calder Cup Playoffs. The series begins in Toronto on Thursday night, followed by Game 2 on Saturday at Ricoh Coliseum. Game 3 and Game 4, if necessary, will be held at the Blue Cross Arena on Monday April 23, and Wednesday April 25. Game 5, if necessary, will take place on Saturday April 28 in Toronto. With the AHL playoffs only days away, the Amerks have an opportunity to create more playoff memories for all to remember.