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HOGS HOLES TOO BIG TO OVERCOME

Photo by Chris Jerina
Rockford, Ill.- Another deficit was too large to overcome for the Rockford IceHogs on Saturday night as they dropped a 5-3 decision to the Houston Aeros in front of a sold out Rockford MetroCentre.

Houston started their attack at the midway point of the first period pushing pucks at will towards IceHogs goaltender Hannu Toivonen.  The constant barrage of shots proved to be costly leading to Houston's first goal at 11:16.  Shooting from the point Nate Prosser roped a shot down-low at the pads of Toivonen. With Toivonen positioned out past his crease he made the initial save but the rebound fell to his right where Jon DiSalvatore was camped out to place the puck in the back of net.

Houston pulled to 2-0 when Carson McMillan fired a shot on Toivonen, the rebound found the left corner and while Toivonen went to get back in position Justin Falk beat him high with a wrister at 16:47. Colton Gillies picked up the second assist on the play.

With Rockford trailing 2-0 and being outshot nearly 2-to-1 the Hogs desperately needed some momentum going into the second period and they would get it at 19:21 into the first period.  In the right corner Jeff Taffe gathered the puck and quickly sent a pass to Kyle Beach who was driving the net.  Beach continued until he found Ryan Potulny who snuck behind the defense and netted in a one-timer to cut the deficit to 2-1.

Houston wouldn't back off, scoring just one minute into the second period.  Maxim Noreau's goal put the Aeros out front 3-1.  Assisting on the play was Drew Bagnall and Jarod Palmer.

Rockford would answer just minutes later scoring at 4:29 to cut Houston's lead to 3-2.  Set up beneath the goal-line Mathis Olimb moved the puck to his near right over to the stick of Peter LeBlanc. LeBlanc wasted no time finding Brandon Pirri for the snipe one-timer past Matt Hackett.

Rockford's play continued to pick up and at 5:50 into the third period as they would tie the game at 3-3.  Taffe picked the puck up behind the net and zeroed in on Beach sitting just to the right of the crease.  Taffe slipped a pass in tight where Beach was able to net the one-timer off the pad of Hackett into the net.

Houston would regain the lead and go up 4-3 after a back-hand shot from Chad Rau rose over the glove of Toivonen at 9:57. Rau's goal was set up by Robbie Earl's initial shot that stuck up front off of the pads of Toivonen.

Jed Ortmeyer iced the game when he outlasted a winded IceHogs unit and knocked in an empty net goal at 19:30 of the final frame.

Toivonen took the loss after making 31 saves on the night while Hackett skated out of the MetroCentre with his second win in 10 days over the IceHogs after 22 blocks.

Notes: Both teams went scoreless on the power-play. Jeff Taffe extended his scoring streak to ten games picking up two assists on the night.

Next Home Game: Monday, Feb. 21 vs. Peoria Rivermen: The puck drops at 2:05 p.m. Monday is Kid's Day.  Kids tickets (14 and under) are just $5 and kidcessions are one dollar hot dogs and sodas.  The first 2,500 fans to the game will receive an IceHogs Cereal Bowl courtesy of General Mills and Q 98.5.