ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Hockey is a sixty-minute game, and sometimes it’s not how you start, but rather how you finish. The Rochester Americans did not have the lead in regulation when they took on the Hershey Bears Friday night, erasing a sizable deficit to take a 4-3 win in a shootout on Friday night.
Zach Fucale took the loss for the Bears, in his return to the Bears’ crease, while Malcolm Subban earned the win with 24 stops.
It was technically a back half of a home-and-home between the two teams after Hershey took a 2-1 decision at Giant Center nearly a week prior. Mike Vecchione kicked things off almost a half-minute into the contest, burying his 21st goal of the season by driving to the net and swatting the rebound of his initial shot past Subban. The goal ties a single season best for Vecchione in goals, previously hitting the mark in the 2019-20 campaign with the San Antonio Rampage.
Getting off to a hot start is important, and the Bears didn’t even need 30 seconds as Mike Vecchione buries his 21st of the season! #HERvsROC pic.twitter.com/b0Ub8j6wAB
— Corey Swartz (@FPHBears) March 24, 2023
Hershey followed that goal up before the first period was five minutes old when Sam Anas tallied his ninth of the year and second since returning to play from a mid-body surgery. Anas hung around the net front and found a loose puck after Dylan McIlrath’s initial shot was blocked and lifted it over the goaltender’s shoulder to double Hershey’s lead.
In the middle stanza, the lead grew to three goals for the Chocolate and White when Connor McMichael extended his point streak to six games by finishing a perfect passing play from Joe Snively and Aaron Ness.
Connor McMichael was my “hot” player on @TheHolyGrAHL this week – his point streak extends to six and points in eight of his last nine games! #HERvsROC pic.twitter.com/pHYjE41Y8F
— Corey Swartz (@FPHBears) March 25, 2023
The Americans shrugged off the goal almost instantly. Before the last goal could even be announced in-house, Joseph Cecconi tallied his second of the year by picking up a loose puck from a pile of players in and around Fucale and wired a shot to cut into the lead.
Brett Murray cut the lead to one goal just over 12 minutes into the second by snapping a quick shot through a bit of a screen that Fucale didn’t see. Rochester tied the game before the period’s end on their first power play as Murray tallied his second of the game and 19th overall on the power play, where Rochester leads the league at home.
BRETT MURRAY DOES IT AGAIN!
TIE GAME! pic.twitter.com/mpRrvj5v9E
— Rochester Americans (@AmerksHockey) March 25, 2023
The third period was one that would not please advertisers as whistles were few and far between, particularly in the back half of the frame that had a playoff-like intensity that carried over into overtime. Both goaltenders loomed large as Fucale made saves in the overtime and Subban had a few big stops in the shootout, and Mason Jobst scored in the skills competition to complete the comeback for Rochester.
Although the Bears earned just one point, they were not assisted in their efforts to try and clinch a playoff spot, as the Hartford Wolf Pack earned a dramatic win over the Springfield Thunderbirds. The lone point does hold significance, as the third-place Charlotte Checkers and the first-place Providence Bruins were idle on Friday. The single point brings Hershey to within two of Providence for first and extends their lead over third place by six.
Hershey will travel to Syracuse to take on the Crunch tonight before returning home to face the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on tomorrow afternoon at Giant Center. Rochester earns two points in the North Division race and will be hoping for a Hershey win on Saturday to keep Syracuse within range of catching for home-ice advantage in the play-in round.
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