Blogs | 2/15/2012 3:29:08 PM | Don Stevens

It’s always nice to hear from fans, and especially those that have been around for a lot of the history of this franchise.   I received a very nice letter from James Griffin, and wanted to share it with you...

Sunday, February 12, 2012 7:55 PM
Hi Don!

I was just viewing the Amerks site, saw your bio and couldn't help but send you an e-mail.

My wife and I currently live in Phoenix, but grew up in the Rochester area. I attended my first Amerks game in 1960 with my Dad... game 7 of the semis vs Cleveland with the Amerks coming back from down 3 games to none to win the series. Watching "Crozier's Old Men" dominate, Don Cherry and Bryan Watson going at in the penalty box during the playoff with Quebec, Cherry later essentially saving the franchise by coming back to coach, the brutal rivalry with Providence, Battleship Bob Kelly, the beer baths, the awful Boston affiliation, the Buffalo marriage, the magical 86-87 season, the pre-game brawl in the Aud with Hershey followed by Priestlay's hat trick... and lots of other memories.

We moved to Phoenix in 1988, had Roadrunner season tickets and have had Coyote tickets since they relocated from Winnipeg. Yeah, we still miss the Amerks and the road trips. We were in town several years ago and attended the game when Scott Metcalfe was inducted into the HOF. I have to admit we were disillusioned with the terrible attendance at the game and that hardly anybody stood to applaud him when he was announced. Gosh, I hope things have improved since.

Back to the reason for the e-mail and YOUR memories, I can comment on them from a personal viewpoint...


1.) “My first season was 86-87, and there was a memorable moment in my very first game at the War Memorial. Shane Churla (Binghamton) went up on the stage after some of the fans.”

It was opening night and we were in our section 5 row G seats. As I recall, Churla had been in a fight with maybe Andy Ristau that ended pretty abruptly when Churla gave Andy a major league knee to the groin.  They had put in the door by the stage to prevent both teams having to exit through the same door, but I guess it was a bad idea for at least one night. I remember Churla throwing the steel railing into the fans before he was dragged out of there. I think that was also the year that Jimmy Hofford took the Binghamton stick in the chops.

2.) “Since then, there have been lots of memorable moments. One of the best was going to the championship in my first year and winning it at Sherbrooke, and coming home to the thousands of people at the airport at 4:00 in the morning.”

My wife and I attended both game 2 and game 7 in Sherbrooke, a 7-hour drive but well worth it. Memorable was game 6 when we came back from being down 3-1 after the first period. I can still picture Don Lever's breakaway and the place going bonkers. Game 7 was fun, to say the least, as Sherbrooke only allocated 100 tickets for Rochester and I got 4 of them. They had us spread out all over the building, so there was no Amerk cheering section to rival the home fans. Nonetheless, the outcome was sweet. After the game we made it out onto the ice with the team hoisting the cup, and I recall, the boys were already pouring champagne into it as they skated it around. We drove home the next day so we missed the airport scene, but being there was a memory to never be forgotten. And, what about the parade and the Nik and the Nice Guys celebration party the next week!

3.) “That same season at Binghamton, beating the Rangers on the last night of the season in a shootout, to win the regular season championship.”

Whalers, not Rangers!!! We were at this game and the one the night before in Hershey that we lost. A little side story here... Ray Shepard was hurt in the Friday home game. We actually ran into Binghamton coach Larry Pleau at the hotel in Hershey the next day, recognized him and introduced ourselves. He and his guys had heard that Ray had broken his back, but we had the latest and let him know otherwise. The relief on his face was awesome, and he said he needed to let his guys know right away that he was going to be okay. The hockey fraternity at its best! As for the Binghamton game, Wakaluk standing on his head and being relieved by Puppa for the shoot-out, Jack Brownschidle's goal, whew!

4.) “Going to the finals seven times in my first 14 years in Rochester is just an incredible statistic.”

We missed most of these, but had a 10' satellite dish, so we'd call WORK to get the satellite/transponder to watch the games.

5.) “Calling the first ever goal scored by a goalie by ‘shooting’ it directly into the net (Darcy Wakaluk in Utica), about a week before Ron Hextall did it (for the Philadelphia Flyers). In fact, I called the first four goalie goals in league history - two for (Wakaluk & Robb
Stauber) and two against.”

Well, we were at this game too, a Wednesday night if I recall. I remember eating at an Italian restaurant before the game with the Amerks coaching staff there having dinner. Darcy was definitely one-of-a-kind. Actually made it to the Coyotes one year, but didn't show much and was released.

Don, I can still hear your play-by-play voice in my ears. Great job over 25+ years and congrats on the Amerk HOF.

With kind regards,

Jim Griffin

VS.  Utica Comets  
TV:  | RADIO: Fox Sports 1280 Rochester
 October 10, 2015 - 07:35 PM 1 2 3F
 Utica Comets 0 0 00
 Rochester Americans 0 0 00