On December 28, 2012, The First Niagara Center was sold out for the first time this hockey season. No, the NHL was not in session but the Buffalo Sabres AHL affiliate Rochester Americans delighted the 19,070 fans in attendance. This also broke a Rochester Americans franchise record as the previous high for attendance was 17,898 at HSBC Arena back in 2004.
The Americans were playing against the Lake Erie Monsters for the second game in a row. Rochester had won the previous game in a 7-6 OT thriller two nights earlier. Forward Cody Hodgson had a great night as he scored 2 power-play goals for Rochester. Mark Mancari and Nick Tarnasky had the other goals. Hometown goalie David Leggio who is from Williamsville (about 20 minutes away from the arena), was stellar in net as he made 36 saves.
For at least one night, hockey fans were able to watch quality hockey at the First Niagara Center. With a sell-out crowd for an AHL game in an NHL building, it just goes to show you how much Buffalo loves hockey. Buffalonians bleed hockey and since the Sabres are closer to winning a Stanley Cup than the Bills a Super Bowl (13 years and no playoffs), there is more optimism for the Sabres. The Americans have won both games here this season and if they lockout continues, there may be more games played here in the future. Perhaps they should schedule more games in Buffalo if they keep winning here!
As of December 29, the Americans have moved up to 9th place in the Western Conference with 33 points. There play of late has been better too with a 6-3-0-1 record in their last 10 games. The Americans next two games are at home, featuring the Binghamton Senators on Saturday Dec 29th and the Hamilton Bulldogs on Dec 31.