The Rochester Americans received multiple-point efforts from five different players on their way to a 5-2 victory over the longtime rival Hershey Bears at The Blue Cross Arena on Wednesday night. The victory, which came in front of 4,473 fans, snapped Rochester’s two-game losing skid and moved them back to within two points of a playoff spot.
Corey Tropp led the way offensively for Rochester with two goals and an assist, giving him nine points (3+6) in the last seven games. Dennis Persson (1+1), Derek Whitmore (1+1), Nick Crawford (0+2), and Colin Stuart (0+2) each contributed a pair of points while Marcus Foligno also chipped in a goal and netminder David Leggio turned away 32 of 34 shots against the AHL’s second-highest scoring team.
“After this past weekend, tonight was a really big bounce-back for us,” said Persson following the game. “We have to get back on track again and this was a step in the right direction and hopefully we can keep it going now.”
Former Amerk Graham Mink contributed a goal and an assist for Hershey, who also saw Matt Pope light the lamp in the loss. Braden Holtby finished with 26 saves between the pipes.
The Bears got on the board to take a 1-0 lead just 5:22 into the contest, capitalizing on a fortuitous bounce in the midst of a goalmouth scramble. Pope centered the puck from below the goal line to the crease area and it popped up in the air over Leggio and into the net.
Whitmore buried his team-leading 22nd goal of the season with the man-advantage at 15:37 of the first to even the score at one apiece. Persson sent a slap-pass toward the net from the left half-wall which found its way to the stick of Tropp before quickly bouncing to Whitmore, who finally deposited the puck into the open side. Once the puck was in the net, the Amerks fans in attendance tossed hundreds of Teddy Bears onto the ice surface to celebrate. The bears will be donated to Monroe Ambulance.
The Amerks grabbed their first lead of the night with less than a minute remaining in the opening period. On a two-on-one rush, Tropp accepted a pass from Colin Stuart that sent him in alone and beat Holtby with a nifty move to the backhand. Stuart’s assist on the play represented his first point since December 4 after missing two months because of an injury.
Rochester potted its second power-play goal of the game to take a 3-1 advantage at 5:46 of the second period. Luke Adam found Persson creeping in from the point and set him up with a slick cross-ice pass at the left circle, and Persson fired a wrist shot over the right shoulder of Holtby for his second goal of the season and second point of the night.
The Amerks built their cushion to three goals midway through the second period when Foligno, who was stationed at the top of the crease, jammed home a Whitmore pass from below the goal-line.
Tropp scored his second of the game 3:10 into the final period to open up a 5-1 lead for Rochester. Varone feathered a pass around a sliding Hershey defender looking to break-up the two-on-one rush and Tropp slid the puck around Holtby into the empty side.
The Bears responded to cut their deficit to 5-2 with a power-play tally at 4:08, as Mink cleaned up the rebound of a Chris Bourque bid. The Amerks then successfully killed off a pair of additional power-plays for the Bears in the late stages of the third period to preserve their 5-2 triumph.
Rochester continues its four-game homestand on Friday as the Amerks and Adirondack Phantoms square off in the third of four get-togethers this season. Game time is slated for 7:35 p. m. at The Blue Cross Arena and will be broadcast live on 107.3 FM and 1280 AM, Rochester’s Sports Talk.