AMERKS WELCOME SPECIAL GUESTNews | 12/16/2011 4:00:29 PM | Warren Kosel
It’s not very often that the Rochester Americans get a sense of home when they’re on the road. Most of the time it’s living out of a suitcase, going from rink to rink and hotel to hotel on the way to the next city or town. But that wasn’t the case earlier today at the AT&T Center in downtown San Antonio, where the Amerks faceoff against the Rampage in an American Hockey League matchup later tonight.
Today was a little different in the fact that the Amerks had a special visitor attend the morning skate. SFC Dale Scherberger, a 17-year veteran in the United States Army, stopped by to offer the team a little taste of home as the Amerks are set to embark on a three-game journey across the Lone Star State this weekend.
“The first Amerks game I ever saw was in 1972 at the old Rochester War Memorial,” recalled Scherberger, a native of Rochester who grew up in the suburb of Irondequoit before joining the military. “Don Cherry was the coach that year and I remember watching guys like Barry Merrell, John Bednarski and Bob Ellet play. I have quite a few memories in that old barn.”
Scherberger was joined by his two sons, Collin and Charlie, both of whom are hockey players in the San Antonio youth hockey program. Scherberger, a lifelong fan of the Amerks, contacted the team via their website inquiring about the possibility of attending team practice and maybe meeting some of the players afterward. What he wasn’t expecting, however, was VIP treatment from the team and coaching staff, in addition to a few early Christmas presents from the players.
“I’m a huge hockey fan, especially of the Amerks, and the last few years when the schedule came out, we were always disappointed because Rochester would never travel to where I would be based,” said Scherberger as he addressed the team in the locker room after practice. “When the schedule came out this year, and I was told I’d be relocated to San Antonio, and that the Amerks were coming town, I told my boys ‘we have to go, we just have to.’”
Scherberber, who was recently transferred to the area from California, and his sons were greeted with open arms from the Amerks, and even Head Coach Ron Rolston made it a personal matter to introduce himself to the family and exchange a few minutes of friendly dialogue before inviting them into the locker room.
The players as well welcomed the Scherbergers as they entered the dressing room, each of them first conveying their gratitude for the countless sacrifices that Dale and others do every day to preserve our freedom and safety.
“It’s because of guys like Dale and others like him that we get to play the game we love every day,” said Amerks defenseman Joe Finley. “He’s the reason why we were able to skate this morning and do everything else we enjoy.”
Individual introductions took place shortly thereafter, as every single player, coach and staff member personally introduced themselves with a cordial handshake and a smile. The meet-and-greet ended with a few photos and some autographs, but not before Derek Whitmore, Jacob Lagace and Mark Voakes all presented the family with game-used, autographed sticks as an early Christmas gift.
Scherberger left Rochester in 1994 before joining the United States Army. Having been stationed in Ft. Drum, North Carolina and California prior to his most recent assignment to San Antonio, Scherberger has served three tours in Iraq over a 17-year career in the Armed Forces. Tonight will mark his first Amerks game since 2003.
“I’ve been to quite a few Rampage games over the years, but I promise you tonight I will not be cheering for them,” Scherberger told the team.
“After all these years away from home, thank you for allowing my sons and I to finally get a piece of Rochester back,” Scherberger said.
No, thank you, Dale, for all that you do for this country.