(Rochester, NY)… The Rochester Americans extended their winning streak to a season-high four games tonight, defeating the back-to-back defending Calder Cup champion Hershey Bears by a score of 3-2. Despite being outshot by double digits for the second consecutive game, the Amerks continued to make the most of their opportunities and held off the Bears down the stretch. With the win, the Amerks improve to 25-26-3-2 and now sit just one point behind the Grand Rapids Griffins for sixth place in the American Hockey League’s North Division.
Offensively, Rochester was powered by Michael Duco (1+0), AJ Jenks (1+0) and Jeff LoVecchio (1+0), who each scored one goal.
The Amerks main catalyst, however, was goalie Tyler Plante, who stopped 37 of Hershey’s 39 shots en route to the Rochester victory.
For the Bears, Jay Beagle (1+1) led the way with one goal and one assist as Todd Ford turned away 21 saves in the losing effort.
The Amerks struck first with the man-advantage Duco netted his team-leading 15th goal of the season at 7:26. Upon gaining entry into the Hershey zone on the left-wing boards, Michal Repik
feathered a pass that eluded the Hershey defender and found its way right into the wheel-house of his fellow linemate. Duco made no mistake, blasting a one-timed slapper to the top corner, over the glove of Ford. It was the ninth power-play tally on the year for Duco and the first time in seven games that he has found the twine.
Rochester doubled its lead at 14:13 when Jenks finished off a strong fore-checking effort by Jordan Knackstedt. After the puck was sent deep into the right corner of the offensive zone, Knackstedt closed off Hershey winger Maxime Lacroix and chipped the puck to Jenks, who was crashing the net in the low slot. The 20 year-old beat Ford five-hole for his seventh of the season. Paul Baier picked up the secondary assist on the goal, his first point since December 18th.
The Amerks opened up the second period as hot as they were going in, scoring a goal to give them a 3-0 lead. Eric Selleck
gave the puck to Comrie at the point, where Comrie took a slap-shot. The initial shot was stopped by the pad of Ford, and a rebound effort by Selleck was tipped by Jeff LoVecchio’s stick as the puck found the back of the net. It was LoVecchio’s sixth of the season and Comrie and Selleck were awarded the assists on the play.
With about six minutes remaining in the period, the Bears cut the deficit to 3-1 with a shorthanded tip-in from former Amerk Johann Kroll. It was the 14th shorthanded goal given up by the Amerks and ninth surrendered at home, both league-worsts. Hershey’s Zach Miskovic took a slap-shot from the right side of the Amerks’ zone, and the puck was tipped in by Kroll past the glove-hand of Plante for his first goal of the season.
Hershey narrowed the Rochester lead to just one 4:22 into the final frame with a great individual effort from Beagle. After carrying the puck over the Rochester line, Beagle drove wide and fended off Baier before lifting a nifty backhander just under the crossbar from the left side of the net.
Despite a late-charge by the Bears, Plante stood tall between the pipes, making key saves in the closing minutes of the contest to secure the victory and presenting Rochester with its fourth straight win.
The Amerks bring the week to a close on Saturday, February 19th as they head east down the I-90 to exchange pleasantries with the Syracuse Crunch at the War Memorial at Oncenter. Faceoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. and will be carried live on SportsRadio 1280 WHTK and FM 107.3, Rochester’s Sports Talk. Amerk fans in Rochester will also be able to watch the game live on Time Warner Cable SportsNet Channel 26.