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By: Nate Haeni
Photo courtesy of Greg Hamil
Rockford has not lost in regulation to Houston in eight straight contests dating back to Jan. 10, 2010

Rockford, Ill.- The Rockford IceHogs rallied in the third period to complete a comeback and defeat the Houston Aeros 3-1 in front of a sellout crowd of 6,116 at the Rockford MetroCentre on Thursday.

Rockford found themselves trailing 1-0 to start the third period but it didn’t take long for the IceHogs to get the equalizer. Shawn Lalonde's drive from the right circle was blocked down in traffic, but Mathis Olimb picked up the loose puck and lit the lamp to tie the game at 1-1 at 6:55.

With the Olimb goal putting the spark back in the Rockford offense, the IceHogs would continue to pour shots at Houston's goaltender Matt Hackett. After receiving a pass from Kyle Hagel, Ryan Stanton ripped a shot to the right back boards, the puck then ricocheted into the crease and Rob Klinkhammer came in and sent it home at 16:39 to give the IceHogs a 2-1 lead.

With time expiring the Aeros pulled Hackett for the extra attacker. Houston, however, failed to get the puck inside the IceHogs zone and a misguided pass led to a steal by Jeff Taffe.  Taffe's pass got deflected to Hagel, who settled it down and sent the puck in for the empty net goal at 19:44 to seal the game at 3-1 for Rockford.

Houston got things started with a power-play tally late in the opening frame. Hannu Toivonen kicked away Tyler Cuma's initial shot but the Hogs couldn't clear it. Robbie Earl picked up the loose puck and slapped two more shots at Toivonen and one trickled to the back of the net to give the Aeros a 1-0 lead at 19:20. Cody Almond also registered an assist on the play.

Toivonen turned away 29 shots to pick up his seventh win of the season and extend his point streak to six straight decisions in which he has not lost in regulation (4-0-0-2). Hackett stopped 25 pucks in a losing effort.

Notes: Rockford's power play was held off the board in six chances and Houston went 1-for-5. The IceHogs picked up 13 points in December out of a possible 18. Hagel recorded his second multi-point game (1g-1a) of the season.

Next Home Game: Friday, Jan. 7 vs. Toronto Marlies:  Game time is set for 7:05 p.m. Rockford returns home for the first time in 2011 for their annual home tilt against Toronto. The game is the first of two on the campaign with the Marlies.

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