Bourque scores four as Bears gain ground in the East

Saturday’s AHL Boxscores

Chris Bourque became the fourth AHL player this season to score four goals in a game, leading Hershey to a 5-2 win over Hamilton on Saturday before 9,760 fans at the Giant Center.

Grant McNeill added his first career AHL goal for the Bears, who now hold a four-point lead on Binghamton for the East Division’s final playoff spot. Both teams have seven games to play.

The teams exchanged first-period goals, as Hamilton’s Janne Lahti scored at 12:14 and Bourque answered at 15:01.

Bourque scored twice in the second period and McNeill once, making it a 4-1 Bears lead. After Mathieu Carle scored at 15:16 of the third, Bourque capped his night with an empty-net goal in the closing seconds.

Peoria’s Jean-Guy Trudel and Quad City’s Grant Stevenson posted four-goal games earlier this season, and former Bears forward Grant Potulny most recently accomplished the feat as a member of Springfield.

Bears goaltender Daren Machesney picked up the win with 31 saves on 33 shots, upping his season record to 20-10-2.

Saturday’s game marked a rematch of the 2007 Calder Cup Finals, won by Hamilton in five games. The Bears and Bulldogs split their 2007-08 season series at one game apiece.

Hamilton fell to 0-10-1-1 in its last 12 contests. The Bulldogs’ last win came when the Bears visited Copps Coliseum on Mar. 1.

Hartford matched an AHL season high with 10 goals on its way to a 10-1 victory over Springfield before 7,156 fans at the XL Center.

Mike Taylor, playing in his second career AHL game, scored a pair of goals and added an assist for the Wolf Pack.

Andrew Hutchinson, Artem Anisimov, Hugh Jessiman, and Mike Ouellette all had a goal and two helpers, and Corey Potter, Josh Gratton, Dane Byers, and Greg Moore also scored.

Chicago posted the AHL’s other 10-goal game this season in a 10-2 win over Iowa on Dec. 15.

The 10-1 final marked the largest margin of victory in an AHL game since Oct. 23, 2004, when the old Worcester IceCats blanked Springfield by a 9-0 score.

David LeNeveu made 24 saves to pick up the win for Hartford. Springfield’s Stephen Werner initially gave the Falcons a 1-0 lead with an unassisted goal just 54 seconds after the opening face-off.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton took over first place in the East Division with a 4-2 road win over Bridgeport at the Arena at Harbor Yard.

The Penguins fell behind by a pair of goals after 20 minutes, as Ben Walter and Jamie Fraser scored for Bridgeport.

But Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s Nathan Smith netted markers at 6:34 and 10:27 of the second, and 2008 AHL All-Star defenseman Alex Goligoski potted the eventual game-winner at 18:32.

Connor James added a third-period marker for the Penguins. He had chipped in two assists for a three-point night. John Curry stopped 31 of 33 shots between the pipes.

The Penguins (44-26-0-3) moved one point ahead of Philadelphia for the division’s top spot, marking the first time since Oct. 7 that the East has had a new leader.

Robbie Earl posted a goal and two assists to help Toronto to a 6-1 win over visiting Manitoba at Ricoh Coliseum.

Bryan Muir, David Ling, and Jay Harrison all had a goal and a helper for the Marlies, while Bates Battaglia and John Mitchell rounded out the offense.

Goaltender Scott Clemmensen stopped 31 of 32 shots in the winning effort, as Toronto moved to 7-0-0-1 in its last eight games.

Rookie Michael Grabner netted the Moose’s lone goal. Manitoba’s 13-game points streak (11-0-0-2) came to an end.

Providence scored four times in the third period to run away with a 7-1 win over visiting Portland before 8,077 fans at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.

Chris Collins posted two goals and two assists to lead the Bruins’ offense. Nate Thompson, Matt Hendricks, Wacey Rabbit, and T.J. Trevelyan each had a goal and a helper.

Providence’s Martins Karsums also scored, while Sean Curry and Brett Skinner chipped in a pair of assists apiece.

Stephen Dixon netted the Pirates’ lone goal at 5:41 of the second period.

With the win, Providence officially clinched home-ice advantage in the first round of the 2008 Calder Cup Playoffs.

Norfolk burst out to a 4-0 lead and had to hold on for a 4-3 win over visiting Manchester at the Scope Arena.

Bracken Kearns netted the Admirals’ first and fourth goals, with Chris Lawrence and Radek Smolenak scoring in between.

AHL rookie scoring leader Teddy Purcell began the Monarchs’ comeback attempt with a power play goal at 10:18 of the second period.

Marc-Andre Cliche scored at 18:09 of the second, and David Meckler tallied a power play goal with 6:20 left in the third. However, the Monarchs were unable to get the equalizer.

Admirals goaltender Ryan Munce made 35 saves for the victory.

Despite the loss, the Monarchs remained three points up on Springfield for the Atlantic Division’s fourth and final playoff spot.

Marc Methot scored with 30 seconds left in overtime to give Syracuse its eighth straight victory, a wild 6-5 decision over visiting Lake Erie before 6,167 fans at the Onondaga County War Memorial.

The win extended the Crunch’s points streak to 16 games (13-0-0-3), matching an AHL season high previously attained by Rockford. Syracuse is now 17-1-0-5 since Feb. 2 and sits just four points back of Manitoba for second place in the North Division.

Defenseman Andrei Plekhanov tallied a pair of goals and added an assist in regulation for Syracuse. Rookie Derick Brassard also scored twice, including the game-tying goal at 9:36 of the third period.

Brad Richardson tallied a hat trick in the losing effort for the Monsters. T.J. Hensick and Jamie Lundmark rounded out Lake Erie’s scoring.

Danny Irmen netted a pair of goals as Houston edged host Chicago by a 4-3 count in front of 9,636 fans at the Allstate Arena. It marked the Aeros’ sixth straight road win.

Cal Clutterbuck and Serge Payer also scored for the Aeros, who built a 4-0 lead by the 4:45 mark of the second period.

The Wolves climbed back into it, though, starting with Joey Crabb’s sixth goal of the season at 10:13 of the second. Steve Martins netted a shorthanded goal in the final stanza, and Darren Haydar made it 4-3 with only 21 seconds remaining.

The Aeros held on, as goaltender Barry Brust finished with 16 saves in the winning effort.

Houston remained tied with Milwaukee for fourth place in the West Division, one point back of third-place San Antonio. The Aeros will travel north for a date with the Admirals on Sunday.

San Antonio scored twice in each period on its way to a 6-0 blanking of visiting Peoria in front of 9,019 fans at the AT&T Center.

Chris Durno tallied a pair of goals for the Rampage, and David Spina posted a goal and two assists. Jon DiSalvatore, Matt Murley, and Bill Thomas rounded out the scoring.

Mike Zigomanis chipped in three assists in the winning effort, while Travis Roche helped on two goals.

Rampage goaltender Al Montoya made 31 saves for his first shutout of the season.

Milwaukee goaltender Maxime Daigneault turned in a 35-save shutout as the Admirals edged host Quad City by a 1-0 final at the I Wireless Center.

Matt Ellison scored the game’s lone goal at 15:10 of the first period. It was his team-leading 24th marker of the season and sixth in his last seven games (6-3-9).

Daigneault improved his season record to 4-5-0. Two of his four victories have been via the shutout, and the Flames were the victim on both occasions. Daigneault made 27 saves in a 2-0 win at Quad City on Oct. 26.

Marc-Andre Gragnani scored a pair of goals and Tyler Plante made 47 saves as Rochester downed Grand Rapids by a 5-2 score before a sellout crowd of 10,834 fans at the Van Andel Arena.

With the game tied 2-2 early in the third period, the Americans received goals from Tommy Goebel, Gragnani, and Anthony Stewart to account for the final score. Stewart’s goal went into an empty net.

Plante stopped all 15 shots he faced in the first period and 33 of 34 over the final 40 minutes. The 47 total saves marked a season high for Plante

The Griffins’ Kyle Quincey had a goal and an assist, and Francis Lemieux also scored.

Iowa netted three goals in the third period to rally past visiting Rockford by a 4-3 final at the Wells Fargo Arena.

The IceHogs took a 2-0 lead on first-period goals by Kris Versteeg and Troy Brouwer, but Iowa’s Chris Conner cut the lead in half just 54 seconds after Brouwer’s goal.

After a scoreless second period, the Stars received third-stanza goals from Tom Wandell, Janos Vas, and Chris Lee to take a 4-2 advantage.

Versteeg tallied a power play goal for Rockford at 13:38, but the IceHogs were unable to find the equalizer.

Stars goaltender Tobias Stephan, who made 37 saves in a win over Quad City a night earlier, stopped 42 of 45 shots to secure the victory on Saturday. Stephan is now 26-24-2 on the campaign.

Petr Vrana netted a goal and added two assists as Lowell edged Worcester by a 4-3 final at the Tsongas Arena.

Pierre-Luc Leblond and Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre scored for the Devils in the first and second periods, respectively. Nick Palmieri’s first professional goal, a power play marker at 11:15 of the third, turned out to be the game-winner for Lowell.

Devils goaltender Dave Caruso turned aside 29 shots in the winning effort.

Matt Jones tallied his first professional goal for the Sharks. Graham Mink and Tom Cavanagh also lit the lamp.