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By: Fritz Stillings
Photo by Greg Hamil

Rockford drops fourth-straight contest

Rockford, Ill. - There was plenty of scoring between the Rockford IceHogs and Hamilton Bulldogs on Saturday night at the BMO Harris Bank Center with ten combined goals between the two squads, however it was Hamilton who came out on top with a 6-4 victory.

Just four minutes in, Joonas Nattinen sparked the offensive outburst as he snagged the puck in the Rockford zone and slipped it past Carter Hutton to give the Bulldogs the 1-0 lead.

Then, within a 1:40 time span, a flurry of goals erupted beginning at the 11:58 mark. Rockford’s Ben Smith corralled the puck on the doorstep and zipped it past Hamilton goaltender Robert Mayer to knot it at 1-1.

Hamilton quickly responded when Mike Blunden squeaked the puck past Hutton to give Hamilton a 2-1 advantage.

Rockford had an answer 12 seconds later when IceHogs captain Martin St. Pierre cashed in on an Adam Clendening pass to square it up a two apiece.

But less than a minute after St. Pierre’s goal, Brendan Gallagher lifted the Bulldogs back on top with his seventh goal of the season.

With two minutes remaining in the wild opening frame, Marcus Kruger converted on the power play to bring it back to a tie once again. St. Pierre and Nick Leddy factored in on the play with assists.

In the middle stanza, Morgan Ellis and Blunden added tallies to chase Hutton from the game and give the Bulldogs a 5-3 lead. Alec Richards came in to relieve Hutton of his duties.

But some tic-tac-toe passing between Ryan Stanton, Brandon Saad and St. Pierre resulted in the Hogs captain netting his second goal of the contest to bring the score to 5-4 heading into the final frame.

In the third, the Hogs couldn’t convert on any of their seven shot attempts, while Gabriel Dumont tacked on an empty netter with 12 seconds remaining to give Hamilton the 6-4 victory.

Richards turned away all 13 Hamilton shots in relief while Hutton finished with 15 saves in the loss.

Next Home Game: Saturday, Dec. 22 vs. Abbotsford Heat at 7:05 p.m. The IceHogs host the Western Conference’s top team on Saturday for Stan Mikita Night. Blackhawks Ambassador and Hall of Famer Stan Mikita will be on hand to meet and greet fans. The first 1,500 fans through the gates will get a mini-stick, compliments of U.S. Cellular.

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