Now that winter is approaching, it seems like the appeals of the great city of Rochester are dwindling. The outdoor festivals and concerts are suddenly non-existent. Golf clubs and Frisbees are hibernating in storage. The local parks are only good if one wants to catch pneumonia.
Another apparent drawback is the end of the season for Rochester’s two most popular sports teams. After coming within a game of winning the Governor’s Cup in September, baseball’s Red Wings have packed up the gear until spring training in 2007. The Rhinos were also a game away from winning the United Soccer Leagues First Division championship, but they have entered the off-season as well.
If you think that this means there are no good sporting events in Rochester until the sun returns, however, you are sorely mistaken. While the batch of Rochester professional sports teams that play during the winter may not be as popular as the beloved Wings and Rhinos, they are just as entertaining and, in some cases, even more successful – plus, no rain delays!
The Rochester Americans, better known as the Amerks, started their season less than a month ago. The minor league affiliate of the red-hot Buffalo Sabres (as well as the Florida Panthers), the Amerks have been doing an awfully good impression of their close-to-home parent club so far. After 13 games, they are 12-1 in their division and lead by a whopping nine points.
If you are on the fence about going, keep in mind that there’s always the chance that one of the players on the ice is the next star of the NHL. Lately, Rochester has produced Buffalo starting goalie Ryan Miller and star forward Thomas Vanek. If that’s not enough, Canadian hockey icon Don Cherry was an Amerks player and coach in the ’60s and ’70s.
Looking for crisp passing and stellar shooting on the hardwood rather than the ice? You are in luck. The Rochester RazorSharks are back for their second season as an American Basketball Association team and so far it looks as if they are picking up right where they left off. The team captured the ABA championship last year in its inaugural season and is off to a 2-0 start this year. The RazorSharks feature a high powered offense that has scored over 100 points in both games this season.
Their home opener is tonight, and on Saturday the team will receive their championship rings and Mayor Bob Duffy will help raise the championship banner to the roof of the Blue Cross Arena before the game against Maryland.
The Amerks and RazorSharks aren’t the only teams that use the Blue Cross Arena in the winter. If you want to try something a little different, check out the Knighthawks, Rochester’s professional indoor lacrosse team.
Surprisingly fast-paced and filled with punishing hits, indoor lacrosse is perfect for any sports fan. The rules are relatively straightforward and the intensity is right up there with any other sport. Like almost every other Rochester sports team, the Knighthawks have had their share of success. They have made the playoffs in 11 straight seasons and won the league championship in 1997. The K-Hawks open their season in late December and have home games through the middle of April.
Finally, for those of us who can’t get enough football, we know that it is never too early to start looking for something to fill the void left by the end of the NFL season. And, of course, Rochester has the answer. The Rochester Raiders of the Continental Indoor Football League kick off their season in mid March. The Raiders are coming off a stellar season which ended with a tough six point loss in last year’s championship game. They are led by exciting quarterback Matt Cottengim, winner of the 2006 Most Valuable Player award. The Raiders also boast a new stadium for 2007. The Main Street Armory is being refurbished and will serve as the home for the Raiders as they try to improve on last season’s 7-3 record.
The best part of having lesser known teams in Rochester is the ticket prices. Tickets for the Amerks, RazorSharks and Raiders can all be found for less than $10. So for the same price as a movie ticket, you get more than two hours of entertainment, you can be as loud as you want and maybe you’ll even win a free t-shirt. How can you argue with that?
Moeller is a member of the class of 2009.