Are you tired of stumbling back to your room with your brand new shirt soaked in beer, so inebriated that you are unable to remember your middle name? Does every performer at the coffee house sound the same? Sick of seeing a movie at Hoyt Auditorium every Friday night with the same obnoxious, immature crowd? You may want to enhance your social life here at UR by leaving the River Campus and going to a Rochester Amerks hockey game.

The Amerks, who play their home contests at the beautiful Blue Cross Arena, a short five-minute drive from campus, are the closest resemblance to professional sports in the Rochester area. Rochester is currently in the midst of a playoff battle, as the Amerks are tied for eighth and final position in the Western Conference with 61 points.

For those students whose wallets have been conspicuously empty in the past few weeks, as they’ve been more financially strapped than Enron, attending an Amerks game is a great way to have fun at a cheap price. The Amerks are co-sponsors of the Food for Families campaign that is spreading through the Rochester area this winter. Each time you buy food at Pellegrino’s or Wegmans you have the option of making a small, $1.47 contribution to feed poor, disadvantaged families in downtown Rochester. For every $1.47 you spend you receive a free ticket to any Amerks contest.

Besides providing exciting, bone-crushing hits and fast-paced, competitive action, the Amerks for years have proven to be a valuable asset to the community for the length of its existence.

Over the years the Amerks have helped raise money to fight cystic fibrosis, participating in such events as the Amerks at Your Service Dinner and the John Bednarski Golf Tournament. The Amerks have also taken part in Foodlink’s Check Out Hunger Food Drive, as well as the Toys for Tots Christmas Toy Drive.

For the third straight season, the Amerks and Chase-Pitkin teamed up for a season-long Frisbee toss to benefit the Society for the Protection and Care of Children and Habitat for Humanity.

A record $32,637 was raised for these organizations last season. Amerks players also visit hospitals, classrooms and other special events in the area to extend the positive impact they have on the community.

On the frozen pond, the Amerks feature several stars. Left-winger Jason Botterill leads the league in goals with 36 and is twelfth in points with 56. Goaltender Mika Noronen, was ranked 30th among prospects by a panel of NHL executives in the 2003 edition of the Futures Watch by the Hockey News. Not to be outdone by his teammates, defensive specialist Doug Janik was nominated for the Timex Ironman Player Award last season. Janik received the accolade for displaying both outstanding offensive and defensive skills last season.

Several UR students have had memorable experiences attending Amerks games. “Although [the UR hockey team] can probably beat them,” junior Matt Furman joked, “I had lots of fun watching the game with my boys.”

“I organized a trip to an Amerks game with my fraternity and it was one of the best times of the year,” junior Kevin Gemp added. “I even caught a puck that was hit over the boards.”

The Amerks have one more home game before Spring Break. They welcome the Hershey Bears at 7:35 p.m. on March 7.

Rybaltowski can be reached at mrybaltowski@campustimes.org.



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