Feb 22, 2024

1.pngBy Andrew Mossbrooks | @Mossbrooks48


On Friday, Feb. 23, the Rochester Americans will usher in the team’s 68th member of the revered Amerks Hall of Fame. The 67 prior names that have been immortalized in the annals of Amerks history have decorated pasts few can dream of and even fewer can accomplish.


There are Calder Cup champions, Stanley Cup champions, All-Stars, captains, record holders, and more. But for the first time in Amerks Hall of Fame history, Rochester will see one of its own get the nod.


Rory Fitzpatrick was born and raised in Rochester, New York. The 49-year-old who celebrated his birthday last month didn’t play for the Amerks until 2001, but memories of the red, white, and blue were sewn into his DNA long before that.


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“We grew up Amerk fans,” said Fitzpatrick. “We grew up wanting to be Rochester Americans. What we knew of pro hockey was the Rochester Americans. I remember going to games with my brothers and our family in the 80’s watching the Amerks win Calder Cups. I remember watching guys like Geordie Robertson, Val James, Jacques Cloutier, and the list goes on. I remember if we were going to games, we would pack our own popcorn in a paper bag and sneak peanuts into the game. We would go to the game and watch The Moose on an ATV roaming around. Those games had high scoring, great goaltending, and fights. There was no better time to be an Amerks fan.”


Each of the three names Fitzpatrick mentioned are all Hall of Famers. Robertson was the first of that trio to be inducted in 1993, followed by Cloutier in 2000 and James just last year. Now, Fitzpatrick will share a space with heroes of his past.


“To be in any Hall of Fame is an achievement, but for me personally, to be inducted in a Hall of Fame that includes so many great names and players I grew up idolizing is really amazing and exciting. Those are the names we grew up watching. For me, this is an incredible achievement and there’s no understating the importance this is to me and my family.”


Fitzpatrick’s pro career began years prior to returning home. In 1995, the then captain of the Ontario Hockey League’s Sudbury Wolves turned pro to join Fredericton in the AHL for their playoff run. He would go on to play in the Montreal Canadiens, St. Louis Blues, and Nashville Predators organizations until getting the call in the summer of 2001 to come home.



From there, Fitzpatrick went on to spend five of his final nine pro seasons in the Flower City, including his final two seasons from 2008-2010, where he served as team captain.


In all, the soon-to-be Amerks Hall of Famer played in 211 games with Rochester, accruing 14 goals, 50 points, and 240 penalty minutes. While the on-ice accolades are noteworthy, Fitzpatrick made a concerted effort off the ice, giving back to the community that made him who he was and still is to this day.


“Rochester has an amazing history of hockey, but it’s also a great town. When I came back to Rochester, I thought of all the people that supported me there and I just wanted to give back to the community as much as I could. For me, being in the community of my hometown was easy. I wanted to be seen, be heard, and hopefully have a similar impact on the youth as it had on me when I was growing up getting to see players in that jersey. I thought it was very important to be part of this community that has given me so much.”


In four of Fitzpatrick’s five seasons in Rochester, the Irondequoit native won the McCulloch Trophy, a team award given to the player whose commitment to the Rochester community goes above and beyond.




Fitzpatrick’s characteristics as both a player and a person have earned him this honor.


“It was amazing,” said Fitzpatrick upon receiving the phone call to inform him of his induction. “I wasn’t expecting it, but just getting that call brought a lot of emotions forward. It means a lot to me and my family. It was definitely an emotional moment.”


And so, Friday evening will be a special night for the Fitzpatrick family. It’s a day they probably never thought of when sneaking popcorn into the old War Memorial some-four decades ago.


From watching his idols, to being one for the next generation of Amerks fans, Fitzpatrick comes full circle at center ice this Friday night. For many pro players, reaching the AHL and playing for the Amerks is what they hope to be the next stop along their path. For Fitzpatrick, it has an entirely different meaning.


“It was a dream come true to play for the Rochester Americans. We grew up Amerk fans. Even before wanting to be an NHL player, I wanted to be a Rochester American.”

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