(Rochester, NY) … Despite a pair of third-period goals, the Rochester Americans (7-3-1-0) could not complete the comeback as they fell 4-2 in the opening game of a home-and-home series with the Hershey Bears (5-6-0-1) Friday night in what was the 457th all-time meeting between the AHL’s two oldest franchises.
With the 4-2 loss and a Cleveland Monsters win tonight, the Amerks and Monsters are now tied atop the North Division standings with 15 points. Additionally, Rochester saw its eight-game point streak end as well as its four-game home winning streak halted.
WATCH: GAME HIGHLIGHTS
C.J. Smith and Victor Olofsson, who just yesterday was named the CCM/AHL Player of the Month for October, recorded their fifth and sixth goals of the campaign, respectively, for the Amerks. Goaltender Scott Wedgewood saw his AHL career-best five-game winning streak end as he stopped six of the nine shots he faced in the first period before being replaced by Adam Wilcox in the second period. Wilcox made 14 saves on all 14 shots he faced in just over 37 minutes of relief work.
Mike Sgarbossa registered his fourth and fifth point in his last three games with a goal and assist while Riley Barber also booked a multi-point effort (1+1) for Hershey, which has won three straight contests. Liam O’Brien and Axel Jonsson-Fjallby rounded out the scoring on the night as rookie netminder Ilya Samsonov made 34 saves in the win, his second consecutive victory.
As the Amerks were trailing 3-0 entering the final period of the contest, Smith scored his second goal in as many games to make it a two-goal game at the 5:47 mark of the stanza.
WATCH: CHRIS TAYLOR POST-GAME
The reigning Amerks Rookie of the Year entered the offensive zone after Lawrence Pilut sprung the winger into the Bears’ end of the ice. Smith skated along the far wall before slipping a well-placed shot between the left shoulder of Samsonov and the crossbar for Rochester’s first goal of the night, ending the netminder’s bid for a shutout.
Facing a 3-1 deficit, the Amerks pulled Wilcox for the extra attacker and Olofsson buried a Taylor Fedun rebound to bring the Amerks within one with 2:42 left in regulation.
Kevin Porter, who earned his 300th career AHL point, and Fedun were credited the assists on Olofsson’s sixth goal of the slate.
The Amerks attempted to put the final stages on the comeback and pulled Wilcox again but O’Brien iced the Bears’ 4-2 victory as he slipped the puck into the vacant net before the final horn sounded.
WATCH: KEVIN PORTER POST-GAME
“We didn’t have the type of start to the game as we had liked,” said Amerks head coach Chris Taylor. “We had better second and third periods, but we cannot give any team a three-goal lead. Teams in this league are too good to try to have that kind of comeback.”
Hershey took an early 1-0 lead just 57 seconds into the contest as Sgarbossa redirected a shot past Wedgewood while on the power-play.
Prior to the end of the opening frame, Hershey scored a pair of goals 1:40 apart to take a 3-0 advantage into the break and ultimately chase Wedgewood from the net.
WATCH: VICTOR OLOFSSON POST-GAME
“We didn’t start very well,” explained Porter after the loss. “They took an early lead on us and we were trying to play catch-up in the second and third periods.”
Neither of the two clubs could generate much offensively in the second period as the score remained unchanged from the first intermission.
Rochester cut into Hershey’s 3-0 lead during the final 20 minutes, but it could not finish the comeback as the Bears hung on for the 4-2 victory.
WATCH: C.J. SMITH POST-GAME
“We talked about having a good start prior to the game and we were not able to do that,” Smith said. “It was a tough break on the first shift to have the penalty, but I still don’t think we responded until the second period and by that time it was already 3-0.”
The Amerks and Bears get right back at it on Saturday, Nov. 3 as the home-and-home series shifts south for a 7:00 p.m. rematch at Giant Center. The matchup will be the final game of the season between the longtime rivals and can be heard live on The Sports Leader AM 950/ 95.7 FM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV.
ROC: C.J. Smith (5), Olofsson (6)
HER: Sgarbossa (5), Barber (3), Jonsson-Fjallby (2), O’Brien (7)
ROC: Wedgewood – 6/9 (L) | Wilcox – 14/14
HER: Samsonov – 34/36 (W)
ROC: PP (0/5) | PK (1/2)
HER: PP (1/2) | PK (5/5)