MATT STEVENS NAMED AMERKS 2011-12Features | 4/13/2012 4:20:45 PM | Dan Peters
The Rochester Americans announced the winners of the annual team awards prior to tonight’s game against the Syracuse Crunch. Aside from the player honorees, one Amerks fan was recognized as the team’s 2011-12 “7th Man – Fan of the Year.” Churchville resident Matt Stevens received the award after his heartfelt submission to ballot box.
With the honor, Matt received suite tickets to the game, an Amerks jersey, autographed team stick, access to Head Coach Ron Rolston’s postgame press conference and a locker room tour following the game.
Because Matt is currently attending an ROTC Spring Field Training, he was unable to attend tonight’s game, so his mother, Tina, accepted the award on his behalf.
“I have been coming to Amerks games for as long as I can remember,” Matt said. “Before I was born, my parents would follow the team around the Northeast. They were (and still are) very good friends with (current Amerks play-by-play announcer) Don Stevens and (former color analyst) John Bednarski, and often talk fondly of the days when the Amerks were on their ‘Fight for Four’ and ‘Drive for Five’.”
Matt grew up as a hockey player and evolved into a diehard Amerks fan along the way. The 20-year-old cites Domenic Pittis as his favorite player to suit up in the red, white and blue, also acknowledging that he still wears his autographed jersey to games today.
“We were there all through the 1990s and 2000s for all the days when The Blue Cross Arena was packed nightly,” he noted. “I remember the day when they lost the Calder Cup to Hartford in 2000. I cried and am not ashamed to admit that one bit.”
Matt also said that he takes the idea of the 7th Man quite seriously.
“The 7th Man’s voice can be heard throughout the arena,” he said. “His job is simple: rally the crowd, rally the team, and win the game. It goes beyond starting ‘Let’s go Amerks’ cheers or getting a wave going. He gets the fans psyched about the team, but that cannot be done without first rallying them around the sport itself. Before the drop of the puck at the beginning of every period, I yell ‘HOCKEY! HOCKEY! HOCKEY’, out of homage to a fan who I am told used to do the same thing back in the 1980s.”