By Nick Dreimiller
The late afternoon, pre-game festivities were a little different for a recent Amerks home game. While the Blue Cross Arena ice is usually occupied by local youth hockey players in the hours leading up to an Amerks game, on January 29 there was a spirited contest taking place among police officers.
It was Hometown Heroes Night at The Blue Cross Arena as the Amerks showed their appreciation to all of Rochester’s first responders, including local police, fire fighters, emergency medical personnel and military veterans.
In keeping with tradition, an exhibition hockey game is also played and features the Rochester Police Department and another local team.
This year’s game featured the Rochester Police Department vs. the Buffalo Police Department and marked the fourth consecutive year that the RPD has participated in the friendly contest. Last year’s game pitted the RPD vs. the Rochester Fire Department, however this was the first year that featured the Buffalo PD.
Although the visiting BPD defeated the RPD 8-3, the sense of camaraderie on the ice was shown in the handshakes and smiles shared between the two teams at the end of regulation.
“Bringing in an outside team that we’ve never played before, and making those connections between guys is always fun,” said RPD Sgt. Ralph Montinarelli.
Montinarelli is a 17-year RPD veteran and hails from Penfield. His love of hockey has ensured his participation in all four of the Hometown Heroes games and he looks forward to continue the tradition. “It’s always a good time.”
The visiting Buffalo Police Department also enjoyed the friendly competition.
“Playing another local department and sharing those experiences is the best part,” Pat Overdorf said. Overdorf has been with the BPD for four years and is already hoping to come back to Rochester to play in next year’s matchup.
“I just hope that we can play them again sometime, maybe in Buffalo or wherever. Meeting those guys and just playing hockey was an amazing experience.”
Overdorf, a Buffalo native, also praised the hosts of the evening, the Rochester Americans.
“We want to thank the entire Rochester Americans organization for having us down here and for setting everything up. It was great.”