(Hershey, PA) … Four straight unanswered goals, including two from veteran defenseman Zach Redmond, helped the Rochester Americans (8-3-1-0) flip the script in the second-leg of a home-and-home series with the Hershey Bears (5-7-0-1) at Giant Center. Saturday night’s 4-1 victory for the Amerks was the 458th all-time meeting with the Bears and second in the last two nights between the AHL’s two oldest teams.
With Rochester’s victory and the Cleveland Monsters being idle tonight, the Amerks grabbed sole possession of first place in the AHL’s North Division standings ahead of Wednesday night’s matchup between the two teams at KeyBank Center in downtown Buffalo.
WATCH: GAME HIGHLIGHTS
Redmond tallied his seventh and eighth goals of the season for the Amerks, who have collected 17 of a possible 20 points in their last 10 contests. The veteran blueliner shows 16 points (8+8) in his last 11 games while Kevin Porter and Dalton Smith rounded out the scoring. Goaltender Adam Wilcox, who came into the contest carrying a 5-0-2 record in his last seven appearances dating back to last year, made 27 saves in a winning effort.
Derek Hulak opened the game with his second goal of the season for Hershey, which saw their three-game win streak end. Rookie netminder Ilya Samsonov stopped 30 of 34 in his second straight start in as many nights but was given the loss.
The Bears, much like last night’s tilt, struck for the game’s first goal less than five minutes into opening period of play with a redirection goal from the right point. Connor Hobbs fired a shot from just inside the Amerks blueline towards Wilcox, but Hulak reached out his stick to change the angle of the shot and tipped the puck into the back of the net at the 3:35 mark.
It appeared as if Hershey was going to escape the opening period with the lead despite being outshot 15-7, but Redmond knotted the contest at 1-1 with 1:01 left in the stanza.
The veteran defenseman pinched into the zone from the left Samsonov before tucking the puck inside the left post for his first of two goals on the night and seventh of the season.
The game remained tied at 1-1 until Redmond rifled a one-timer that pinballed its way through net-front traffic before bouncing in just under the crossbar with 8:26 left in the second period.
As the Amerks held the puck inside the Hershey zone following the end of a Bears penalty, former Hershey forward Wayne Simpson spotted Redmond between the face-off circles. The Redmond blast from Simpson and Lawrence Pilut held up as the game-winning goal, his fourth of the season and a new career-high.
With eight goals already on the season, Redmond is on pace to become the first Amerks defenseman to reach the 10-goal mark in the fewest amount of games to start the season since T.J. Brennan during the 2012-13 campaign. Brennan, a two-time Eddie Shore Award winner and a five-time AHL All-Star, had nine goals by his 16th game that year and scored his 10th in just his 25th appearance of the season. Additionally, Redmond is also on pace to surpass his own career-mark of 15 he scored last season, having already scored more than half through just 12 games this season.
Hershey was given a chance to tie the game as the Amerks were whistled for a holding infraction at the 5:03 mark, but Porter and C.J. Smith erased any hope of a comeback as the duo entered the offensive zone on a 2-on-1 rush. While Smith’s initial shot was denied, Porter swept the rebound behind the Hershey netminder to give the Amerks a two-goal cushion with 3:36 to play in the sandwich stanza.
Porter’s goal was his third of the season, which also extended his point streak to a career-best seven games (2+5), while Smith pushed his streak to three games (2+1).
With the score 3-1 to start the final period of regulation, Dalton Smith put the final touches on the four-goal come-from-behind win as he chipped in a loose puck at the 7:19 mark. The tally was Smith’s first of the campaign and assisted by Will Borgen and Eric Cornel.
For the seventh straight year, the Amerks make the annual trek down the New York State Thruway to play in the home of the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday, Nov. 7 as they host the Cleveland Monsters in a North Division showdown at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo. The 7:05 p.m. contest will be the first of eight scheduled meetings between the two teams this season and can be heard live on The Sports Leader AM 950/ 95.7 FM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV.
ROC: Redmond (7, 8 – GWG), Porter (3), Dalton Smith (1)
HER: Hulak (2)
ROC: Wilcox – 26/27 (W)
HER: Samsonov – 30/34 (L)
ROC: PP (0/4) | PK (3/3)
HER: PP (0/3) | PK (4/4)
1: Zach Redmond (ROC)
2. Kevin Porter (ROC)
3. Dalton Smith (ROC)