The date was May 23, 1987 and the Rochester Americans had just won their second championship in four years – and fifth overall in franchise history – after a 4-2 win over the Sherbooke Canadiens in Game 7 of Calder Cup Finals.
The Amerks, who had home ice advantage through the first two rounds of the postseason, entered the final round 8-3 through their first 11 games and coming off series wins over Hershey and Binghamton. Rochester quickly dispatched the Bears winning four-games-to-one in the best-of-five first-round series, the first two of which were played at The Aud in Buffalo, before defeating the Binghamton Whalers in six games to advance to the Calder Cup of Finals. The stingy Amerks defense, anchored by future Hall of Famers Jim Hofford and Richie Dunn, and backstopped by the goaltending tandem of Daren Puppa and Darcy Wakaluk, held the Whalers to two goals or less in four of the six games throughout the series, including a 2-0 blanking in Game 1 at the War Memorial.
With the series tied at two games apiece and back in Sherbrooke for Game 5, the Canadiens handed the Amerks their most lopsided loss in the playoffs with a decisive 6-1 win to put Rochester on the brink of elimination. The Amerks, however, returned home three days later to defeat the Canadiens and force a winner-take-all Game 7 showdown back in Sherbrooke.
Exactly 30 years ago today, Rochester opened a 2-0 lead with first-period goals from Ray Sheppard and Jason Meyer, who played just three games during the regular season. Sherbrooke would cut the deficit in half 4:01 into the second period, but the Amerks responded with another pair of goals later in the frame. Gates Orlando scored the eventual game-winner on the power-play and Jody Gage added his team-leading 14th goal of the playoffs just 1:36 later to tie the AHL record for most goals in a playoff series before the Amerks survived a late push from the Canadiens.
WATCH: GATES ORLANDO SCORES THE GAME-WINNER
WATCH: JODY GAGE TIES THE AHL RECORD FOR GOALS IN A PLAYOFF SERIES
The game marked the first Game 7 in Calder Cup Final history since 1963. Sherbrooke set an AHL record for most goals scored in one playoff with 85 while Rochester captain Dave Feynves captured the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as playoff MVP.
During the regular season, Gage led the Amerks with a team-best 65 points (26+39) in 70 games and ranked second on the team in postseason scoring with 14 goals and 19 points. Orlando also had a productive year, scoring 22 goals in 44 games with Rochester while also splitting the year in Buffalo. Puppa, coming off a career-best 37 wins in the regular season, and Dunn, who paced all Rochester defensemen in scoring, were both named to the AHL First All-Star Team while Fenyves and fellow blueliner Jack Brownschidle were selected to the Second All-Star Team. It was the first time since the 1976-77 season the Amerks had four players named to the AHL’s All-Star teams.