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By: Mike Peck
Photo by Ron Byrd
Hogs battled back from 4-1 deficit in overtime loss

Cedar Park, Tex.-
A quick start, a first period collapse, a comeback, a late blown lead and a last second overtime loss. It was all in a night’s work for the Rockford IceHogs on Friday as they dropped a wild 6-5 contest to the Texas Stars in overtime at the Cedar Park Center.

Rockford struck just 34-seconds into Friday’s tilt to take the 1-0 lead. Igor Makarov picked up a Jeff Taffe centering pass and flipped in his sixth goal of the season. The goal was the quickest strike of the season for Rockford.

Texas, however, would explode for four first-period goals in the frames final 5:16. It started on the power play when Luke Gazdic redirected a Maxime Fortunas slapshot past Hannu Toivonen at 14:44.

Michael Neal gave the Stars a 2-1 advantage when he picked up a Cody Chupp centering pass from behind the IceHogs net on the very next shift and buried his second goal of the year shortside at 15:18.

Then Brad Lukowich would get in on the scoring. The veteran d-man followed a Texas rush at 18:58 and knocked in his second tally of the season.  The barrage ended at 19:51 when Chupp wristed a shot from the right face-off circle, off the post and then Toivonen’s back and into the net for a 4-1 Stars advantage.

Rockford came storming back in the second period. Peter LeBlanc started the comeback when he notched a power-play goal off a Brandon Pirri rebound at 4:11 of the frame. Taffe set up the goal for his second helper of the night.

Then at 9:17 of the second frame Ben Smith pulled Rockford within a goal. Ryan Potulny picked off a Trevor Ludwig pass in the deep slot and found Smith who knocked in his second effort past Brent Krahn for his seventh goal of season.

Just over a minute later Rob Klinkhammer cleaned up a rebound to tie the game at 4-4. Kyle Beach’s off-angle shot found Klinkhammer on the doorstep and the winger shelved his seventh of the season at 10:24.

Tied 4-4 near the midway point in the third period, Brandon Bollig snapped off his third goal of the season to give Rockford a 5-4 advantage at 9:02. Connelly, stepping on the ice after a line change, rushed up the right wall to hold the puck in. His hold found Beach who set up Bollig’s tally.

The lead wouldn’t last though as the Stars tied the game at 13:59. After his penalty expired, Gazdic hopped out of the penalty box and his shot off the ensuing rush deflected off of Dan Spang and past Alec Richards for his sixth goal of the campaign.

In overtime, Rockford took a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty with 1:19 left in the frame and it would cost them. Texas moved the puck around the IceHogs zone and Greg Rallo would eventually rip home the game winner with 3.3-seconds remaining in overtime to win it for Texas.

Richards was the tough-luck loser after making 14 saves. Krahn earned the win after turning away 29 Rockford shots. The IceHogs lost the special teams battle as the penalty kill allowed three power-play goals.

Next Home Game:
Wednesday, Feb. 16 vs. Peoria Rivermen: The puck drops at 6:35 p.m. The Peoria Rivermen return to the MetroCentre for the third time in 2010-11. Every Wednesday night is a Taco Bell Dollar Day as fans can purchase $1 Vienna Beef hot dogs, Pepsi Products, Bud Select Drafts and companion tickets.

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