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By: Mike Peck
The Rockford IceHogs fell to the Grand Rapids Griffins 3-2 in front of 5,399 at the Rockford MetroCentre on Saturday. (Photo by Greg Hamil)

The IceHogs fall in the first of two straight against the Griffins

Rockford, Ill.- The Rockford IceHogs have found themselves down 3-2 late in the third period three times in the last three games, and in none of them could the IceHogs find the evening goal.

On Saturday, the Grand Rapids Griffins handed the Hogs their third straight loss by a final score of 3-2 in front of 5,399 at the Rockford MetroCentre.

The Griffins took an early lead thanks to Jamie Tardif, who beat Corey Crawford five-hole at 1:41 in the first period on a breakaway.  The breakaway was set up by Ville Leino.

Then Ryan Oulahen doubled the score with a tip-in at 6:18 off of a Jonathan Ericsson shot from the point.

"We had some great chances and they had some great chances," said defenseman Tim Hambly. "But it all comes down to the fact that we just can't put ourselves in a hole like that early."

Pete MacArthur cut the lead in half at 17:00 in the first.  Petri Kontiola earned the helper.  It was the rookie's fifth goal of the season, the second highest among first-year skaters.

In the second period, Darren Haydar gave the Griffins a two-goal cushion again at 19:15 with assists from Oulahen and Aaron Gagnon. Haydar picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone after his penalty expired after beat Crawford on a 3-on-1 breakaway.

"They're a good team," said Hambly. "They have tons of offensive firepower, but we knew that coming into the last game. Tonight we did the same thing (as last week's 6-5 shootout loss).  We'll make adjustments on Monday and try to score the first one at least."

The IceHogs and Griffins play the second of back-to-back games on Monday at 2:05 p.m. at the Rockford MetroCentre.

Rockford picked up the pace after a goal from Hambly at 5:23 in the third to get the IceHogs within one, but they couldn't complete the comeback.

Crawford had 16 saves in the losing effort, while Jimmy Howard backstopped the Griffins with 24 saves.  Both teams were 0-for-1 on the power play in the lowest penalized game of the season for the IceHogs.

Next Home Game:  Monday, Jan. 19 vs. Grand Rapids Griffins. A special start time of 2:05 p.m.  It’s a Kids’ Day at the Rockford MetroCentre on Monday as all kids 18-and-under can purchase tickets for just $5.  Kids can also take advantage of Kidsessions as the IceHogs are offering hot dogs, popcorn, soft drinks and select candy items for just $1 and kids can sign up to win one of two Nintendo Wiis, Sony Playstation 3s or a Nintendo DS.

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