Kevin Porter and Rasmus Ristolainen each scored twice and Phil Varone notched three assists to power the Rochester Americans to a 6-3 win over the North Division rival Hamilton Bulldogs Wednesday night at The Blue Cross Arena. The victory ends the Amerks’ four-game losing skid and brings their overall season record to 8-7-2-2 heading into the final weekend of November.
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Jamie Tardif registered a goal and an assist, while Johan Larsson rounded out the scoring with his first goal of the season. Chad Ruhwedel, Colton Gillies and Jerome Gauthier-Leduc all added assists in the win for the Amerks. Nathan Lieuwen made 27 saves in net for his fourth win of the season. With his three-point night, Varone takes over the team lead in scoring with 20 points in 19 games and moves into third in the AHL in assists.
Morgan Ellis, Christian Thomas, and Martin St. Pierre scored for Hamilton, and Dustin Tokarski made 23 saves between the pipes.
The Amerks struck on Porter’s first goal with 3:52 remaining in the first session. After receiving the puck along the boards in the neutral zone, Gillies took a hard hit but made a pass into center ice to Tardif. Despite initially losing control of the puck, Tardif forced a Hamilton turnover inside the zone and Porter took advantage with a quick wrist shot to beat Tokarski for a 1-0 lead.
Rochester doubled its lead just 2:55 into the second period with the Amerks a man-down. Tardif poked the puck away from a Hamilton defenseman at the Amerks blueline and was sent in all alone on a breakaway pass from Varone. Tardif’s low shot underneath the glove of Tokarski was true, giving the Amerks a 2-0 advantage.
Hamilton brought the score within a goal at the 8:45 point of the second on Ellis’ goal, but the Amerks responded just over three minutes later. On the power-play, Gauthier-Leduc sent a pass across the blue-line to Ristolainen, who one-timed a hard slap-shot over the shoulder of Tokarski. The goal marked Ristolainen’s first in an Amerks uniform, and gave Rochester a 3-1 lead.
Just 56 seconds into the third period, the Bulldogs scored their second goal of the game on a shot from Thomas bringing the score to 3-2.
With over 13 minutes remaining in the third, a tenacious shift from Patrick Kaleta drew a Hamilton penalty, and the Amerks would strike again on the power-play with Porter’s second goal. Varone dished a quick pass to the slot for Porter, who quickly fired the puck behind Tokarski to provide a 4-2 cushion.
Rochester gained a five-on-three power-play shortly thereafter, and Larsson’s slap-shot from the top of the circle deflected off a Hamilton defenseman’s leg and into the net for Rochester’s fifth goal.
Rochester took four minor penalties in the waning minutes of regulation, including three separate infractions for shooting the puck out of play. Hamilton’s St. Pierre brought the score to 5-3, but a short-handed empty net goal from Ristolainen with 36.9 seconds remaining in regulation sealed the win for Rochester on their sixth goal of the evening.
The Amerks get right back to work after the holiday when they host the Lake Erie Monsters on Friday, Nov. 29 at The Blue Cross Arena. The 7:05 p.m. contest will be the second of 10 meetings between the North Division rivals this season and will be carried live on Sports 1280 WHTK.