Rochester native Derek Whitmore gave his hometown fans plenty to cheer about on Saturday night at The Blue Cross Arena, scoring four goals to power the Rochester Americans to a 5-3 victory over the Hamilton Bulldogs. The crowd of 5,016 fans witnessed the first four-goal game by an Amerk since Jason Pominville scored five times against Cleveland on October 21, 2005. With their second win in as many nights, the Amerks improved to 10-7-2-1 on the season.
Whitmore’s four tallies gave him a team-leading 10 goals on the season. Maxime Legault scored other Amerks goal for his first of the season. Alex Biega, Phil Varone, Jacob Lagace, Riley Boychuk, Mark Voakes, Marcus Foligno, Shaone Morrisonn and Shawn Szydlowski each collected an assist as well for the Amerks while David Leggio, who made his fifth straight start in goal for the Amerks, finished with 31 saves.
“He shot the puck tonight, we needed it tonight,” said Amerks Head Coach Ron Rolston of Whitmore’s four-goal performance. “We got some good production against a team we hadn’t had a lot of success against tonight so it was a good win for the guys…he was certainly on top of his game.”
The Amerks got on the board first in the contest just 32 seconds in when Whitmore poked the puck away from Bulldogs defenseman Mike Blunden. Whitmore raced through the neutral zone and slid the puck past the charging Bulldogs goalie, Robert Mayer. Whitmore pushed the puck past Mayer, skated around the goalie, and deposited the puck into the empty net.
Just a minute and a half later, Whitmore found the back of the net again after receiving a pass from Varone on the right wing boards. Whitmore dashed into the high slot and potted his second goal of the night through Mayer’s five-hole.
The Amerks took a 3-0 lead with 12:08 remaining in the first period when Legault notched his first goal as an Amerk. Legault’s goal came off of a Szydlowski shot from the slot and a pass from Boychuk, which gave Legault an open net to shoot at.
Hamilton got on the board with 7:22 remaining in the first period when Alex Henry pinched in from the point and buried his first goal of the season. Late in the first period, the Amerks found themselves two men short, allowing Hamilton to pull within one goal. Dany Masse rifled a slapper in from the top of the circle on a feed from former Amerk Joe Callahan.
Hamilton evened the game at three late in the second period as former Amerk Joe Callahan fired a shot from the point. Callahan’s first goal of the season was assisted by Phil DeSimone and Louis Leblanc.
The Amerks took back the lead six minutes into the third period as Whitmore hit for the hat trick, the first of his professional career, finishing off a goal-mouth feed from Marcus Foligno.
Whitmore then found the net six minutes later to give the Amerks a 5-3 lead and finish with the most goals in a game by an Amerks in over six years.
The Amerks remain at home on Friday, December 2 as the defending Western Conference champion Houston Aeros make their first visit to the Northeast in nearly three years. The 7:35 p.m. contest will be the first of two meetings between the two teams this season and will be broadcast live on 107.3 FM and 1280 AM, Rochester’s Sports Talk.