Rockford, Ill.- A first period 4-1 deficit deflated the Rockford IceHogs as the Peoria Rivermen sailed past them, 6-3, Monday afternoon at the Rockford MetroCentre.
Rockford battled back to pull within two in the third period and had a few opportunities to come even closer, but a late Peoria goal halted any comeback aspirations.
Peoria jumped out to the early 1-0 lead. Graham Mink converted on the power play, picking up a centering pass from T.J. Hensick and sending it to the back of the net at 3:48. Adam Cracknell also factored in with a helper.
Minutes later the Rivermen added to their lead to go up 2-0. Ian Cole dished the puck to Mink on the right circle and he beat Alec Richards glove side at 7:44.
The IceHogs answered back near the end of the first period to make it 2-1. Ryan Potulny passed the puck up to Jeff Taffe in the neutral zone. The Hogs had numbers as they crossed the blue line and Taffe netted his 18th goal of the season at 14:09.
The one goal deficit didn’t last long for Rockford as Peoria converted on an opportunity to go back up two goals. Chris Porter sent the puck to Dave Spina and he fired it on net. Richards turned it away but gave up a rebound and Nicholas Drazenovic who cleaned it up to make it 3-1 at 15:21.
The Rivermen were not finished scoring in the first. Hensick picked up the loose puck in the neutral zone and skated quickly down the left boards leaving everyone behind him. Hensick cut into the slot and wristed one past Richards glove-side at 18:39 to make it 4-1.
In the second period, Peoria picked up where they left off in the first. Mink earned the hat trick after he redirected a Cole shot just eight seconds into a power play past Richards to put the Rivermen up 5-1 at 8:02. Mark Cundari also assisted on the goal.
The IceHogs opened the third period with a goal. Brandon Pirri won a faceoff in the offensive zone and sent it back to Shawn Lalonde who sailed the puck across the blue line to Brian Connelly. Connelly launched a 50-foot slap shot past Jake Allen at 1:25.
The Hogs rally continued in the third period as they pulled within two. Andy Bohmbach intercepted a Peoria pass in the neutral zone and fed it to Peter LeBlanc. LeBlanc broke free and converted on the break-away opportunity to put the game at 5-3 at 11:12.
Shortly after, Peoria ended Rockford’s comeback. Mink picked up his fourth goal of the afternoon as he slipped the puck under Richards in a scuffle inside the crease. Hensick and Adam Cracknell helped make it 6-3 at 14:04. The goal came moments after Allen denied Rockford’s Igor Makarov on a breakaway attempt that would have made it a one-goal game.
Richards stopped 32-of-38 while Allen picked up his 17th win of the season stopping 28 shots. Peoria converted on 3-of-5 power play opportunities and Rockford couldn’t capitalize on any of their three attempts.
Jeff Taffe continued his season-high eleven-game point streak with a goal tonight giving him 6g-10a-16pts.
Next Home Game: Game time is 7:05 p.m. Rockford returns home for their final home game for 14 days as the Admirals return to the MetroCentre. The IceHogs welcome hockey legend Bobby Hull to the MetroCentre presented by U.S. Cellular. Also on Saturday, the first 2,500 fans will receive an IceHogs jersey bag courtesy of Rockford Orthopedic, WTVO and BOB FM.