Friday night in Rochester was “Hometown Heroes Night” at the AHL Americans game versus the Toronto Marlies. The theme was fitting considering the situation: Brian Gionta, the hometown boy who hadn’t played a game since April 9, suited up for one night before heading off to captain the U.S. men’s team in the PyeongChang Olympics.
To make things even more perfect, the 39-year-old Gionta, who played for the Rochester Jr. Americans when he was 15, scored midway through the second period, causing the nearly 10,000 in attendance inside Blue Cross Arena at the Community War Memorial to erupt.
Brian Gionta did not disappoint in his appearance with the Amerks Friday – here’s his first goal of the night!
— 13WHAM (@13WHAM) February 3, 2018
“It sends chills up your back when something like that happens,” said Gionta, who’s been skating with the Americans since October and signed a one-game tryout contract last week.
The Amerks would fall 4-2, but that was secondary to the moment Gionta provided to the fans in the building and the send-off they gave him after the game.
“The support was great tonight as we had close to a full building, but unfortunately we came up just short,” Gionta said. “I appreciate everything that the organization has done for me and providing me with this opportunity. Some guys had to sit out because of the veteran rule, so I cannot thank them enough.”