SPENGLER CUP SERIES BLOG: A DAY OF FUN, AND NOW IT'S BACK TO WORK FOR THE AMERKSNews | 12/25/2013 7:00:51 AM | Warren Kosel
Keep logging on to Amerks.com for continuing coverage of the Rochester Americans competing in the 2013 Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland!
Saturday was the first day off for the Rochester Americans since beginning the 2013 Spengler Cup and the Amerks’ players, staff and guests spent the day in Davos exploring the sights and getting an up close personal look at the majesty and winter landscape of the Swiss Alps.
What was originally planned as a full-team tobogganing excursion, or “sledging” as it’s called here by the locals, warmer weather forced the group to instead spend the afternoon taking in all that Switzerland has to offer. After dropping the first two games of the tournament, today’s outing presented much needed time away from the rink for the players to regroup and spend time with their families before getting back to work on Sunday.
“Events like today are important for the guys because it’s an opportunity to get them away from the rink and step away from the game a little bit,” said Amerks coach Chadd Cassidy from a few thousand feet up the Alps. “It was definitely an enjoyable time with the families today, but that being said, it’s time to refocus and get back to work for tomorrow’s game.”
The opponent Cassidy was referring to is none other than Team Canada, which is coming off a 3-2 loss to tournament host HC Davos last night at Vaillant Arena. The Canadians currently boast a 1-1 record in the competition and sit in second place in Group Cattini. Hockey Canada, which looks to repeat as Spengler Cup champions after winning the international event in 2012, enters a team into the tournament each year, typically made up of Canadian players who are playing professionally in Europe. Among the Canadians fortunate enough to grace this year’s squad includes forward Jacob Micflikier, who played parts of six seasons (2006-12) in the American Hockey League, including one with Rochester during the 2008-09 campaign. In 39 games with the Amerks, the Winnipeg, Manitoba, native registered 16 points on four goals and 12 assists before going onto play the next three seasons with Albany, Charlotte and Hershey, respectively.
In addition to Micflikier, the list of former Amerks skating for Team Canada also features 28-year-old Anthony Stewart, who brings over 260 NHL games of experience to the fold. A former first-round pick of the Florida Panthers in 2003, Stewart played three seasons (2005-08) with the Amerks, recording 63 points (28+35) in 120 career games in Rochester. Despite playing in his first Spengler Cup, Stewart has represented Canada at the international level on several occasions. Stewart has represented Canada internationally in two World Junior Championships, in the 2003 IIHF World U-18 Championships, and twice in the ADT Canada-Russia Challenge. He was the leading goal scorer for Team Canada when they won the World U-18 Championships. In the 2004 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, in which Canada won a silver medal, Stewart tied for the tournament points lead. In the 2005 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, he helped Team Canada win a gold medal.
Rochester’s preparation for its quarterfinal round matchup with Team Canada begins Sunday morning with an 11:15 morning skate prior to exchanging pleasantries with the Canadians at 8:15 p.m. (2:15 p.m. EST) at Vaillant Arena. As a reminder, all the game throughout the 2013 Spengler Cup are being televised live across Europe via Eurosport and in Canada on TSN.
BLOG TWO: We Made It!
Four countries, three flights and two bus rides over a combined total of more than 24 hours of travel, the Rochester Americans have officially arrived in Davos, Switzerland.
Not long after checking into the hotel last night, the Amerks got right to work this morning as 18 players took to the ice at Valliant Arena, home to host club HC Davos and host to the Spengler Cup since the tournament’s inception in 1923, in preparation for tomorrow afternoon’s opening round matchup against Geneve-Servette.
Today’s practice marked the first time Rochester touched the ice since Saturday’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Lake Erie Monsters in its final American Hockey League contest heading into the New Year. The Amerks were slated to skate at Valliant Arena yesterday afternoon, but unforeseen travel complications put the team behind schedule which made today’s session all the more important heading into opening day of the tournament.
Rochester got first dibs on the freshly made sheet of ice, taking the opportunity to get some of the rust off following its three-day absence from practice while becoming better acclimated to the larger ice surface and much higher altitude.
Despite the lingering effects of jetlag, however, Amerks head coach Chadd Cassidy was overall pleased with today’s effort and commended his team on quickly adapting to the European style of play, which certainly was the focal point he and assistants Chris Taylor and John Wroblewski were emphasizing during drills.
“I thought the guys had good energy,” said Cassidy following today’s skate at Valliant Arena. “We obviously weren’t as sharp as we normally would be. This was more of a skate to get out there and get our legs under us, shoot some pucks around and get a better feel for the rink. It was a good first day.”
The immediate difference the Amerks were faced with was of course the 15-foot increase in the width of the ice, creating a much larger neutral zone than they’re normally accustomed to. The players found themselves having to take additional strides in order to get to their respective positioning, but it’s all part of the adaptation process that Amerks veteran defenseman Drew Bagnall says they’re not overly concerned about.
“I think it’s definitely an adjustment to the bigger ice surface,” said Bagnall. “I think obviously after we traveled the way we did and everything going on, I don’t think we were 100 percent, but that being said, that’s the practice you want to get out of the way. We have a game tomorrow, so we have to learn from it and take what you can. I don’t think guys felt as bad as they thought they were all things considered.”
Additionally, the higher altitude of the rink due to its location within the Alps Mountains is an even bigger adjustment for the players, but again, just another obstacle Cassidy notes the team must overcome as part of the learning process.
“Again, that’s just going to be part of the adjustment coming over here,” said Cassidy. “The bigger ice sheet and higher altitude are certainly going to be big parts of it. Hopefully today’s skate will help us in getting ready for tomorrow’s game, and going forward, hopefully we’ll get better every game.”
The Amerks will carry 22 players for the duration for the tournament, including forwards Matt Ellis and Johan Larsson, who are currently en route to Switzerland. Larsson was called up to the Sabres on Monday prior to Rochester’s departure and Ellis has been with Buffalo since his promotion to the big club on Dec. 14. Both played in Buffalo’s 2-1 overtime win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday night.
Those missing from today’s practice were forward Dan Catenacci and goaltender Nathan Lieuwen, both due to illness.
The Amerks are no strangers to the international event either, having competed in the 1996 tournament, where they finished third only behind Team Canada and host club HC Davos. Rochester also has the distinction of being the sole North American participant to ever partake in the 90-year history of the Spengler Cup. -
Rochester takes the international stage again on Thursday, Dec. 26 when they open the 2013 Spengler Cup tournament against the Swiss-A league’s Geneve-Servette, who will be making their second appearance in four years at the prestigious event. The unfamiliarity of the club makes it a big challenge for the Amerks, but one the team says they’re definitely ready for.
“It’s exciting for us to play a team we’ve never seen before and probably a style we haven’t seen yet either,” said Bagnall. “I’m expecting to see a lot more of a puck-possession game out of them. The North American style is more dump-and-chase and as a defenseman, you’re always going back to try and find a way out of the zone. Here it might just be we have to break up plays with good gaps and good sticks in the neutral zone. The biggest thing is that we just connected as a group of five.”
“For us, I think we just really need to focus on our own game and make sure that we’re ready to play,” said Cassidy. “I’ve looked at their roster and they got real quality players with some NHL games under their belt on the other side. But, again, for us it’s going to be more how long it takes us to adjust to a bigger ice sheet and the different style of play over here. At this point, I think our concern is just with the way we’re playing.”
AMERKS’ 22-MAN ROSTER
BLOG ONE: The Spengler Cup
One week from now, the American Hockey League will temporarily enter dormancy for the annual Christmas break, but the Rochester Americans won’t have the luxury of spending the holidays at home this year.
OFFICIAL SPENGLER CUP WEBSITE
2013 SPENGLER CUP SCHEDULE
Instead, in just five days time, the Amerks’ players, coaches and staff will be making their way overseas to compete in the prestigious Spengler Cup tournament, scheduled to run December 26-31 in Davos, Switzerland. At this time next week, Rochester will presumably be midway through the first period of its opening round matchup against Swiss hockey club Genève-Servette, who will be making their second appearance in four years at the annual event.
The Amerks are no strangers to the international event either, having competed in the 1996 tournament, where they finished third only behind Team Canada and host club HC Davos. Rochester also has the distinction of being the sole North American participant to ever partake in the 90-year history of the Spengler Cup.
The tournament caps a physically demanding December schedule for the Amerks, who are in the midst of their third consecutive stretch of three games in four days and are only five days removed from playing in their first-ever outdoor game at Frontier Field as part of the 2013 Greater Rochester Area Honda Dealers Frozen Frontier presented by Labatt. Despite having only a 10-day separation between the two events, and an even more arduous travel schedule in the coming days, it’s nonetheless an opportunity that Amerks head coach Chadd Cassidy says they’re looking forward to.
“It’s going to be a great event for both our staff and our players,” said Cassidy. “It’s something that none of us are probably going to have the chance to do or haven’t done before. Being able to play in a completely different setting and play against some really high-level teams like this is going to be a lot of fun.”
But before the Amerks can even think about what lies ahead, Rochester must focus on this week’s crucial divisional matchups, including tonight’s all-important get-together with the Toronto Marlies in a battle for first place in the American Hockey League’s North Division.
It’s difficult to not look ahead to the tournament, however, especially considering the excitement leading up to it as well as the radically different style of hockey accustomed to the Europeans. Cassidy is certainly one to appreciate the vast differences between the cross-continental play as he’s observed it and experienced it first-hand during his time with USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program. It’s those minute disparities that Cassidy says will be the biggest obstacles for his team to overcome.
In addition to being able to adjust to the initial culture shock of international play, the Amerks will also be going up against some elite teams representing some of the top leagues and top players around the world. It’s a challenge that Cassidy recognizes, but one he feels the Amerks are ready for.
“There’s going to be some top-level talent in this tournament, there’s no doubt about that,” said Cassidy. “I looked at the rosters of the teams and there’s a lot of former NHLers and a lot of KHL players, so we’re certainly going to be up for a really good challenge over there.”
Aside from the foreseeable challenges Rochester faces in its venture to Switzerland, the Amerks also see this as a prime opportunity to showcase the North American style of play as well as display the talent that now comprises the American Hockey League. The event also presents a unique opportunity for the players that otherwise never experienced anything of this magnitude a chance to play at another level, while representing not only Rochester, New York, but all of North America.
“We’re going to be representing the Rochester Americans, not to mention the American Hockey League and North American hockey,” said Cassidy. “It means a lot for these guys and we certainly want to represent well over there and I think it’s a great opportunity to showcase our league and our team.”
The Spengler Cup is an annual ice hockey tournament held in Davos, Switzerland. First held in 1923, the Spengler Cup is often cited as the oldest and one of the most prestigious invitational ice hockey tournaments in the world. The club tournament’s magic formula is a mix of its location in the Swiss spa town of Davos, the unique arena, the timing between Christmas and New Year’s, the coming together of various ice hockey philosophies and its longstanding tradition. The event is hosted by the Swiss team HC Davos and played each year in Davos, Switzerland, between Christmas (December 25) and New Year's Day. All games are held at Vaillant Arena.
The Amerks will spend the holiday season in Switzerland taking on a variety of opponents from all over the world, as this year’s tournament includes entrants from Canada, Switzerland, Russia and the Czech Republic (CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE SCHEDULE). Rochester will open the tournament on Dec. 26 against the Swiss-based club Geneve-Servette.
Here’s a closer look at the teams slated to compete in the 2013 Spengler Cup:
Stay tuned in the coming days and over the course of the tournament as Amerks.com continues to provide fans with more in-depth coverage, news and notes, stats and scores and other important information throughout the duration of the 2013 Spengler Cup.