The Rochester Americans defeated the Hershey Bears 8-7 at Giant Center in Hershey on Saturday night in a battle of the American Hockey League’s two oldest franchises. The high-scoring affair saw the Amerks rally from a pair of three-goal deficits behind a career-best four-point performance from Marcus Foligno, who finished with two goals and two assists.
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After trailing by scores of 4-1 and 5-2 during the second period, Rochester scored six times in the final 28 minutes of the contest, with four of the goals coming on the power play. Foligno was one of five Amerks players to record multi-point games, as T.J. Brennan added two goals and an assist, Cody Hodgson collected three assists, Mark Mancari scored one and assisted on another, and Brayden McNabb registered a pair of assists. Rick Schofield, Evan Rankin and Luke Adam each scored their first goals of the season in the victory while goaltender David Leggio finished with 32 saves.
Jeff Taffe (1+3) and Garrett Stafford (0+4) each recorded four points to lead the way for the Bears, who also got two goals from Ryan Stoa.
Hershey opened the scoring at the 7:57 mark of the first period when Taffe scored his first goal of the season. Taffe, a former Amerk, took a cross-ice feed from Garrett Mitchell and put a shot just inside the right post to give Hershey a 1-0 lead. Cameron Schilling also assisted on the goal.
Later in the period, Schofield scored his first goal in an Amerks uniform to tie the game at one. With players scrambling for the puck in the slot, Schofield’s shot was deflected in front, causing the puck to pop up in the air and land behind Bears netminder Dany Sabourin and over the goal line. Matt MacKenzie picked up the lone assist on the goal for his first point of the season.
Hershey then scored twice in the closing minutes of the first to take a 3-1 lead into the intermission. First, Stafford took a shot from the point that appeared to be headed wide of the net, but Mitchell got his blade on the puck to re-direct it into the net. Then with just 54 seconds remaining in the frame, Tomas Kundratek converted on a Bears power play off assists from Taffe and Jon DiSalvatore to give Hershey a two-goal lead.
The Bears took a 4-1 lead in the early stages of the second period while skating with a 5-on-3 advantage. After working the puck around the zone, DiSalvatore took a feed near the bottom of the right face-off circle and fired a wrist shot that found its way to the back of the net.
Rankin then scored his first goal of the season as he converted on a perfect centering pass from Foligno to cut the Bears’ lead to 4-2. Alex Biega also assisted on the goal for his first point of the season.
Stoa restored Hershey’s three-goal lead with the team’s third power play goal of the game. His shot from the point deflected of the skates of two different players before getting past Leggio.
Down three goals, the Amerks responded by scoring two goals in a 35-second span to close the gap. Playing the point on the power play, Mancari took a wrist shot from the top of the left circle that was deflected in front by Adam to make it a 5-3 game. Just 35 seconds later, Hodgson rushed the puck down the right side and fed a beautiful cross-ice pass into the blue paint for Foligno, who knocked it in for his fourth of the season.
Brennan then tied the game at five when he took a pass at the blue line from Foligno, broke in down the right wing boards and fired a perfectly-placed wrist shot into the top left corner of the net. It was Rochester’s third straight goal and gave Brennan his second consecutive multi-point game.
Hershey scored early in the third period when Mattias Sjogren converted a pass from behind the net from Boyd Kane to give the Bears a 6-5 lead. But then the Amerks power play once again came alive, scoring the game’s next three goals in a two-minute span.
First, Brennan blasted a one-timer from the point off a feed from McNabb for his second goal of the game and third on the weekend to tie things up at six. Then just 28 seconds later, Foligno scored his second of the game on a spinning back-hander in front of the net after a cross-ice pass from Hodgson as the Amerks went up 7-6 to finally claim their first lead of the game. Just 90 seconds after that, Mancari scored a man-advantage goal to give Rochester a two-goal lead.
Mancari’s goal proved to be the game-winner, as Stoa made it 8-7 in the closing minutes of the third period. Rochester held off the Hershey attack in the game’s final minute and left Giant Center with an 8-7 victory.
The Amerks will face-off with the Hamilton Bulldogs on Tuesday, Oct. 23 at First Niagara Center in Buffalo in the first of 12 meetings between the teams this season. Tuesday’s game, which was originally scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 21 before being changed, can be heard on Sports 1280 WHTK.