Luke Adam, Dan Catenacci and Brayden Irwin each finished with a goal and an assist as the Rochester Americans defeated the Hershey Bears by a 4-1 count before 7,149 fans in a battle of the American Hockey League’s two oldest teams Friday night at The Blue Cross Arena. The win is the eighth in nine games for the Amerks and brings their record to 23-16-3-3 on the season heading into the final game before the 2014 AHL All-Star break.
Veteran forward Jamie Tardif also finished with a goal for the Amerks, while defenseman Brayden McNabb added two assists. Goaltender Matt Hackett stopped 25 shots in net for his 13th win of the season. Mark Pysyk, Nick Crawford and Johan Larsson also notched assists for Rochester.
Former Amerk Jeff Taffe scored the lone goal for Hershey and David Leggio finished with 29 saves in his first game back in Rochester, where he spent the last two seasons.
Adam, who was named to the AHL All-Star Game earlier this week, spotted the Amerks to a 1-0 lead nine minutes into the opening frame. Irwin crossed the Hershey blueline and back-handed a pass to Adam, who wound up and hammered a slap-shot off the cross-bar and in for his 20th goal of the season. With the goal, Adam notches his first 20-goal season since his breakout rookie campaign with the Portland Pirates in 2010-11.
Less than two minutes later, the Bears evened the score on the power-play when Taffe’s shot took a fortuitous bounce off the skate of a Rochester defenseman and past Hackett into the net. It didn’t take long for the Amerks to regain the lead however, as Crawford’s high shot from the point was re-directed by Tardif past Leggio just 33 seconds later to give the Amerks a 2-1 lead they would not relinquish.
Just 29 seconds into the second period, Catenacci added some insurance for the Amerks on his sixth goal of the season. The rookie forward cruised up the left wing and received a pass from Pysyk, and after fighting off a stick-check from a Hershey defender, managed to slip the puck through Leggio’s five-hole.
Just past the midway point of the second period, Hackett kept the Amerks ahead by two scores with his best save of the night. Hershey forward Brandon Segal picked up the puck beside the net, and with Hackett lying on his stomach after making the initial save, tried to lift it over the fallen goaltender. Hackett flashed his glove, robbing Segal and keeping the Amerks up 3-1.
The Amerks potted their fourth and final goal of the evening with 6:56 remaining in regulation, when Adam sent a breakaway pass up to Irwin, who’s deke fooled Leggio to put the stamp on the 4-1 win for Rochester.
The Amerks play their final game before the 2014 AHL All-Star break on Saturday, Feb. 8 when they take on the defending Calder Cup champion Grand Rapids Griffins at the First Niagara Center in downtown Buffalo. The 7:05 p.m. matchup will be the fourth and final meeting between the two teams this season.