Rockford, Ill.- Things did not look good for the Rockford IceHogs as they trailed the Peoria Rivermen 3-2 late in the third period on Friday night at the BMO Harris Bank Center. But a Brian Fahey goal with just four seconds left in regulation pushed the game into overtime, and the IceHogs eventually took a 4-3 shootout victory over their Midwest Division rivals. The win inched Rockford one point closer in the Western Conference playoff race.
With one minute to go in the third period, Rockford went on a power play after Brennan Evans was called for a hooking penalty. Carter Hutton came to the bench to give the IceHogs a 6-on-4 advantage, and with just 4.1 seconds left in regulation, Fahey found the back of the net to tie the game at 3-3.
After a scoreless overtime, Brandon Pirri, Jeremy Morin and Matt Fornataro tallied three straight goals for Rockford in the shootout, while Hutton stopped three of five shots to propel the Hogs over Peoria.
Rockford struck first at 9:10 of the opening frame. Peter LeBlanc battled for the puck to the left of Jake Allen and flipped it in the air towards the slot. Rostislav Olesz, who was waiting in front of the Peoria net, took a swing at the puck in midair and netted his 14th goal of the season. Rookie defenseman Connor Goggin earned a helper on the play, his first professional point.
In the middle period, the Rivermen tied the game with a power-play goal. Jonathan Cheechoo fired a shot on goal that Hutton stopped, but the puck then bounced above the IceHogs netminder and came back down behind him, crossing the goal line to make it a 1-1 game at the 4:35 mark. Cheechoo was credited with his 22nd goal of the season while Patrick O’Sullivan and Shaun Heshka earned the assists.
Olesz put Rockford back on top at the 1:26 mark of the third period, capitalizing on a man advantage opportunity. Ben Youds and Morin set up the winger, who slipped his second goal of the night past Allen to give the Hogs a 2-1 advantage.
Then, five minutes later, Cade Fairchild evened the score again. The Peoria defenseman blasted the puck from the blueline and it lit the lamp to make it a 2-2 contest. Cheecho and Heshka factored in with the helpers.
Cheechoo continued to give the Hogs headaches as he put the Rivermen up 3-2 at the 12:48 mark of the final frame. David Shields gathered the puck in the right corner and fed a pass to Cheechoo, who was stationed right in front of the Rockford net. The winger picked up the pass and flipped the puck over Hutton’s glove to give Peoria their first lead of the night.
The IceHogs converted on two of their six power play opportunities while Peoria went 1-for-4 on the man advantage.
Hutton earned his 22nd win of the season on 25 saves and three more in the shootout. Allen was tagged with the shootout loss, stopping 27 Rockford shots.
Next Home Game: Saturday, March 31 vs. San Antonio Rampage. The puck hits the ice at 7:05 p.m. The Hogs host the Rampage for the final time on the campaign. The first 1,500 fans into the building will get an IceHogs t-shirt thanks to Anderson Toyota/Scion.
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”