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By: Nate Haeni
Photo by Greg Hamil
Rockford, Ill.- The Rockford IceHogs hold off a third period surge from Chicago Wolves, defeating them 3-2 on Friday night at the Rockford MetroCentre.

Entering tonight's contest the IceHogs power play had been the team's Achilles heel, working in their favor was facing off against the league's worst penalty killing unit in the AHL.  Rockford would take full benefit of the opportunity, capitalizing twice on the man advantage.   

Rockford began the contest scoring on the power play when Peter LeBlanc put the Hogs up 1-0 at 7:03 in the first period.  Kyle Beach held the puck in the Wolves zone and passed it up to Jeremy Morin.  Morin skated around a defender and found LeBlanc on the doorstep where he fired the puck into a wide open net.    

The Hogs extended their lead to start the second period. With the Hogs on a power play Ryan Potulny fired the puck in on Peter Mannino and he turned it away but the Wolves were unable to clear it.  LeBlanc picked up the rebound and fed it across the crease for Jeff Taffe to tap in his team-leading ninth goal of the season at 3:15 to put the Hogs up to a 2-0 lead.  Taffe has now registered a point in a season-long seven games.

At the midway point through the second period the Wolves cut Rockford’s lead in half.  While in transition Wolves forward Ryan Garbutt moved up ice and found Michael Davies in the neutral zone. Davies then quickly maneuvered the puck to his forehand around the defensemen and went on to sneak the puck past Richards at 10:59 to put the game at 2-1.

After a good opportunity for the Wolves in Rockford’s zone Ben Smith took the puck up the bench side boards and fought through a check in the neutral zone.  He continued up ice moved in across the line and set up Rob Klinkhammer on the doorstep at 14:27 for the eventual game winner.

Then, with under a minute left the Wolves made it interesting as they converted with an extra attacker after Mannino went to the bench. Jared Ross fed Spencer Machacek and he slipped the puck under Richards to make it 3-2 at 19:20. Nigel Dawes also figured in on the play.

Notes: IceHogs goaltender Alec Richards made 38 saves on 40 shots and was named the first star of the game. … Peter LeBlanc extended his goal-scoring streak to three games, and has tallied five points over a five game stretch since getting recalled from Toledo.  

Next Home Game: Saturday, Dec. 18 vs. Lake Erie Monsters: Game time is slated for 7:05 p.m. Rockford hosts the Monsters for the second time this season at the Rockford MetroCentre. The first 2,500 fans to the game will pick up an IceHogs Pillow courtesy of OSF and The Eagle 96.7 FM.

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