Newcomers help visiting Bulldogs upset first place Amerks, 8-4

Andrei Kostitsyn had two goals, including the game-winner, and added three assists, leading the Hamilton Bulldogs to an 8-4 win over the Americans on Friday night in Rochester. The win improved Hamilton’s record to 16-10-0-1.

Hamilton plays tonight (Saturday) in Syracuse and could inch closer to the first place Americans. Rochester sits in first place, six points (39-33) in front of Hamilton in the American Hockey League’s Western Conference’s North Division.

Hamilton surprised the Amerks and introduced almost three new players. Jan Hejda and Mathieu Biron were playing their first games as Bulldogs and Francis Lemieux, who had missed 20 games with a knee injury, returned to the lineup. All figured in Hamilton’s scoring.

The Bulldogs stormed out of the gate, building a 3-0 lead in the first period. Hejda let a shot go from the point that was tipped home by Zack Stortini to open the scoring at the 7:18 mark on the power play. Mikhail Grabovski then notched his eighth goal of the season just 2:11 later when Kostitsyn fed him a cross-ice pass. Dan Jancevski gave the ‘Dogs a three-goal lead with his second tally of the season at 12:57.

Marc Mancari’s 11th goal of the season, scored with the man advantage, at 17:58 of the first frame, which ended in a flurry of offense. The teams exchanged goals in the final two minutes, making the score 4-2. Defenceman Biron notched his fourth goal of the season and first as a Bulldog at the 18:16 mark of the frame. Janis Sprukts then responded for the Amerks with only six seconds remaining.

Clarke MacArthur pulled Rochester within a goal at 14:40 of the second period with his 11th. Kostitsyn restored Hamilton’s two-goal lead with the eventual game-winner three minutes later.

Jonathan Ferland and Lemieux each added early third period goals just 1:05 apart to give Hamilton a 7-3 lead. Ferland posted his eighth goal of the season with an unassisted marker just 1:06 into the frame. Lemieux then tallied his first goal of the campaign in only his second game at the 2:11 mark.

The two teams added one goal each in the remainder of the final frame to round out the scoring at 8-4. Drew Stafford, who had a four-point night, tallied for the Amerks at the 9:22 mark, while Kostitsyn capped off his five-point night for the ‘Dogs with his second goal of the game with 1:41 left in regulation play.

Hamilton reached eight goals in a single game for the first time since Jan. 25, 2003 when they beat the Moose 8-5 in Manitoba.