The Hershey Bears scored two goals in the second period and added another pair in third to defeat the Rochester Americans 4-1 Sunday at The Blue Cross Arena in a battle of the American Hockey League’s two oldest teams. The game marked the 446th all-time meeting between the longtime foes, whose 57-year long rivalry is one of the most storied in professional hockey.
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Garrett Mitchell (1+1) and Peter LeBlanc (0+2) led the Bears with two points each, while Phillip Grubauer stopped 35 of 36 shots to help Hershey snap a three-game skid. Ryan Potulny, Ryan Stoa and Boyd Kane also scored for the Bears.
Veteran forward Patrick Rissmiller potted Rochester’s lone goal and rookie goaltender Nathan Lieuwen made 17 saves in first career AHL start for the Amerks, who have now dropped back-to-back contests for the first time since posting consecutive losses to Abbotsford on Jan. 5 and Syracuse on Jan. 9.
After a scoreless opening period, Hershey struck early in the middle frame with a short-handed marker from Potulny just 26 seconds in that spotted the Bears to a 1-0 lead. Potulny jumped on a loose puck inside the Rochester blueline, weaved his way through a pair of defenders to the low slot and slipped a shot through the legs of Lieuwen for the unassisted tally.
The Bears upped their lead almost five minutes later as Hershey converted on a defensive zone giveaway that resulted in Stoa’s eighth of the year from Peter LeBlanc and Garrett Mitchell. After Hershey defenseman Kevin Marshall made a diving play to keep the puck alive in the Amerks zone, Mitchell kicked the puck up to LeBlanc, who ripped a quick shot on goal from the left face-off circle. Lieuwen was there to make the initial save, but the rebound bounced to the far post, where Stoa jammed it home to make it a 2-0 game.
Rissmiller cut the deficit in half with a power-play goal at 9:48, taking a pass in stride from Amerks captain Kevin Porter and sending a wrister to the top shelf, but Kane would answer just 1:51 later as he finished off a Casey Wellman rebound to put Hershey back up by a pair.
Mitchell tacked on an insurance tally late in the third period with help from LeBlanc, securing a 4-1 victory for the Bears.
Rochester heads north of the border on Monday, Feb. 18 as the Amerks travel to Copps Coliseum for a North Division showdown with the Hamilton Bulldogs. Game time is slated for a 3:00 p.m. start and will be carried live on WBER 90.5 FM.