Monday, July 4, 2011
July by the Numbers reaches #4 with the most appropriate jersey possible on America's birthday.
The patriotically named Rochester Americans were founded in 1956, making them the second oldest franchise in the American Hockey League by far, with the third oldest still active team having been founded in 1992.
The Americans have made it to the Calder Cup Finals 16 times, having won the championship six times, first in a run of success that encompassed 1965, 1966 and 1968 as well as an appearance in the finals in 1967, the only team to reach the finals in four consecutive seasons. Other championship titles came in 1983, 1987 and most recently in 1996.
The Calder Cup champion 1995-96 Rochester Americans
Well known players from the early days of the Rochester franchise include goalie Gerry Cheevers, future Islanders coach Al Arbour, future Bruins coach and TV commentator Don Cherry, Jim Pappin and Mike Walton.
Rochester American Don Cherry
After a down period in the late 1960's under the ownership of the Vancouver Canucks, when the team finished last for four straight seasons, local owners purchased the club and installed the dynamic Cherry as coach and general manager which paid dividends as the Americans finished with the best regular season record in 1973-74.
The Americans were later purchased by the owners of the Buffalo Sabres, which naturally led to their becoming the Sabres AHL affiliate, a partnership which lasted from 1979 to 2008, the longest such partnership in AHL history at 29 years which included three championships. Following three seasons apart, circumstances changed which brought the two clubs back together again when new Sabres owner Terry Pegula purchased the Americans in time for the 2011-12 season.
Two numbers have been retired by the team in honor of three players, the #6 for Red Armstrong and #9 for both Dick Gamble and Jody Gage, who broke Gamble's team scoring records.
Recognizable names to have played for the Americans include Maxim Afingenov, Donald Audette, Martin Biron, Brian Campell, Randy Cunneyworth, Benoit Houge, Ales Kotalik, Uwe Krupp, Mike Milbury, Ryan Miller, Jason Pominville, Darren Puppa, Thomas Vanek and even Grant Fuhr.
Thomas Vanek in the Americans flashy alternate stars and stripes sweater
Today's featured jersey is a 2002-03 Rochester Americans Rory Fitzpatrick jersey. With it's red, white and blue color scheme, patriotic sheild logo and #4, we couldn't think of a more appropriate jersey for the Fourth of July, as it even features sponsorship from a local Chevrolet dealer. All you need while wearing this one would be for your mom to serve you some apple pie!
With it's shield crest, classic Northwestern striping pattern and shoulders decorated with basic stars, this jersey's understated elegance creates a timeless look often left behind in this modern age of excessive piping and gimmicky fonts. A true classic jersey in every sense.
Today's video section begins with Gage scoring his 14th goal of the playoffs in Game 7 of the 1987 Calder Cup Finals, leading to the Americans to their fifth Calder Cup championship.
Here is a further look at Jody Gage, an AHL MVP and member of the AHL Hall of Fame.