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By: Amy Spivey
Photo by Greg Hamil
Rockford runs point streak to four straight games

Rockford, Ill. – For the third consecutive contest, the Rockford IceHogs needed extra hockey to try and garner a victory and extend their winning streak to four games. But the Abbotsford Heat notched four goals through seven rounds of the shootout to steal the extra point and take a 3-2 win over Rockford on Wednesday night at the BMO Harris Bank Center.

Tied at 2-2 after 40 minutes, neither team could convert in the third period or during the five-minute overtime, so for the second time in three games the IceHogs played in a shootout. Each team tallied three goals in the first five rounds with Brandon Pirri, Rostislav Olesz and Marc-Olivier Vallerand scoring for Rockford and Ben Walter, Greg Nemisz and Hugh Jessiman notching markers for Abbotsford.

After a scoreless sixth round, Peter LeBlanc was not able to get one past Danny Taylor in round seven, then Ryan Howse converted for the Heat to give Abbotsford the win. Rockford, however, extended their point streak to four-straight games (3-0-0-1).

Ben Youds got the IceHogs on the board first with a power-play tally at the 10:00 mark of the opening frame. Ben Smith won a faceoff in the Abbotsford zone and got the puck back for Youds to blast in his fourth goal of the season past Taylor to make it a 1-0 game.

Abbotsford came back with a power-play marker of their own to tie the contest at 14:39 of the first. Walter and Clay Wilson set up Howse, who slipped the puck behind Carter Hutton to make it 1-1.

Hutton, who came into tonight’s matchup with 113 minutes and 39 seconds of shutout time in the past two games, broke the IceHogs AHL record for most minutes without allowing a goal. He earned 128:17 of shutout time, topping Antti Niemi’s previous record of 119:55. The IceHogs backstopper turned away 35 Abbotsford shots in the shootout loss.

Just 16 seconds after Howse’s tally, Matt Fornataro regained the lead for Rockford with his seventh goal on the campaign and second in an IceHogs sweater. Shawn Lalonde fed a pass to the winger, who slapped the puck behind Taylor to make it 2-1 in favor of the Hogs. Smith earned his second helper of the night on the play.

At 7:23 of the middle frame, Akim Aliu converted on a breakaway opportunity to even the score again. The winger found himself with the puck at the Heat blue line and skated alone into the Rockford zone. Aliu then sent a shot on goal that Hutton got a piece of, but the puck bounced behind the Rockford netminder and in to make it 2-2.

Rockford went 1-for-5 on the power play while killing four of the five man advantage opportunities for Abbotsford.

Taylor made 31 saves to earn the win.

Next Home Game: Sunday, March 11 vs. Milwaukee Admirals. The 13th annual IceHogs jersey auction is Sunday night as Rockford takes on the Admirals. Puck drop is at 5:05 p.m. This year’s theme is “Rock Vegas” and the first 1,500 fans in attendance will receive a deck of IceHogs poker cards sponsored by Lou Bachrodt Auto Mall. Local band, Dirty Fishnet Stockings, will also be on hand to perform before the game and during the intermissions. There will be a live auction on the ice after the game for fans to win the special “Rock Vegas” jerseys worn by the IceHogs.

For every goal that the Rockford IceHogs score in 2011-12, IceHogs head coach Ted Dent will make a donation to children’s cancer research. BMO Harris Bank will also make a donation for every goal to the “BMO Harris Bank Goals For Grades”

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