(Hershey, PA) – The Rochester Americans jumped out to a 1-0 lead midway through the opening frame, but the Hershey Bears erupted for six unanswered goals, including five during an explosive second period, on their way to a 6-1 win over the Amerks Sunday at Giant Center. The game marked the 453rd all-time meeting between the AHL’s two oldest teams and concluded a season-long four-game road trip for Rochester, which falls to 9-15-0-1 on the season.
The lone Amerks goal was provided by Kyle Bonis, who scored shorthanded 11:26 into the first period off assists from Evan Rodrigues and Erik Burgdoerfer, the latter of which was celebrating his 28th birthday against his former team. Linus Ullmark, coming off a season-high 44-save performance Friday against Lehigh Valley, returned to the paint after having Saturday off and made 36 saves in the loss for Rochester,
Rookie forward Zach Sanford paced the Bears offense with a career-best four points, scoring Hershey’s first two goals of the game before setting up two others. Travis Boyd (1+1) and Christian Djoos (1+1) also posted multi-point efforts while Christian Thomas and Paul Carey rounded out the scoring for Hershey behind a 17-save effort from goaltender Vitek Vanecek.
Bonis opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal halfway through the first period to put the Amerks up 1-0. The goal was assisted by forward Rodrigues and Burgdoerfer, who returned earlier this week from his first NHL stint in Buffalo. It would be all Hershey from that point as back-to-back strikes from Sanford would ignite a five-goal second-period for the Bears.
Playing in just his sixth game as a Bear, Sanford knotted the contest at one with a shorthanded marker of his own less than three minutes into the middle frame before converting on the power-play at 10:36 to give Hershey the lead for good. Boyd tallied his seventh goal of the season at the 14:25 mark before Djoos scored on a shot from the point that made its way through traffic and between the legs of Ullmark to make it a 4-1 game.
Carey, who entered the game riding an AHL-best 14-game point streak, pushed it to 15 games with only 18 seconds remaining in the second period. Madison Bowey flipped a cross-ice pass across to Carey on the right wing and the forward beat an outstretched Ullmark to make it 5-1 Hershey.
Thomas rounded out the scoring late in the third period with his team-leading 12th goal of the season, assisted by Aaron Ness and Sanford, to seal the 6-1 victory for Hershey.
The Amerks return home on Wednesday, Dec. 14 to face the Toronto Marlies in a North Division showdown at The Blue Cross Arena. The 7:05 p.m. matchup will be the third of eight meetings between the two teams this season and will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester.
RCH: Bonis (2)
HER: Sanford (3, 4), Boyd (7), Djoos (4), Carey (6), Thomas (12)
RCH: Ullmark – 36/42 (L)
HER: Vanecek – 17/18 (W)
RCH: PP (0/6) / PK (3/6)
HER: PP (3/6) / PK (6/6)