Gionta thanks Amerks teammates before heading to South Korea

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC-TV) - For the last time, maybe ever, Brian Gionta practiced with the Amerks on Tuesday.

He'll be on a plane to South Korea on Wednesday and walking in the opening ceremonies on Friday.

On Tuesday morning, he said goodbye, and thank you, to his Amerks teammates. 

Gionta had a big worry for this morning's practice.

"Just trying to get through practice without taking a shot in the ankle or something like that. Just praying I got through the last practice."

Gionta concluded his four months of practice with the Amerks without disaster, and he made sure to shake the hand of every Rochester teammate.

"These guys have been great all along. You grow close to them even though you're just practicing with them. You're around them every day. You form a bond with these guys. Obviously, it's a little bittersweet."

The same could be said about Gionta's game with the Amerks Friday. He was bitter they lost, but scoring a goal in front of nearly 10,000 and hearing the USA chant, was very sweet. 

"The building was crazy. Obviously, it was a packed house. To score, the place went crazy. For sure, the chant gave me chills. You're on the ice and people are chanting, it just gives you chills. It was pretty special." 

Gionta missed the opening ceremonies when he went to the Olympics in 2006, but not this time. And even better, he's the nominee among both hockey teams to carry the flag and lead Team USA

"I won't know right until before. If that were to happen, it would be pretty cool. Carrying the flag in for the opening ceremonies would be pretty special. It's something I haven't been a part of and to go to that level of it would be pretty cool."

Gionta left the door open to an Amerks return after the Olympics, but for now his full attention is on South Korea. 

"Just want to get over there and get going on it. It's been a long anticipation on this whole thing. So hopefully just get over there and get settled."


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