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PIRRI, SMITH HELP HOGS TAKE BITE OUT OF WOLVES

By: Fritz Stillings

Rockford breaks numerous records in victory over Chicago

Rockford, Ill. – Brandon Pirri and Ben Smith combined for 10 points and sparked a sold out BMO Harris Bank Center Friday evening as the Rockford IceHogs defeated the Chicago Wolves 7-3 in the IceHogs home finale.

Smith marked the second IceHogs hat trick of the season to go along with an assist, while Pirri tied an IceHogs all-time mark and AHL season-high with six points, including one goal and five helpers en route to the Hogs victory.

Rockford peppered Chicago goaltending with a franchise record 58 shots on goal, including 25 in the second period. Shawn Lalonde also set an all-time team record with a +6 plus/minus rating.

Rockford’s onslaught of goals began on their second power play of the contest and with 2:17 remaining in the first period. Down a goal, tic-tac-toe passing from Pirri to Lalonde to Smith on the doorstep resulted in the Hogs first tally. It marked Smith’s 20th goal on the campaign, which set a career high.

Just 1:42 into the second period and with three second remaining on a Chicago power play, Pirri stripped the puck at center ice and broke free. The center capitalized on the breakaway opportunity, finishing top-shelf for his 21st of the season, and marking his second point of the night.

Less than a minute later, Rockford came back with another tally, this time coming from reigning CCM/AHL Player of the Week, Rostislav Olesz. The forward picked-up a pass from winger Kyle Beach and finished top-shelf as well, giving the Hogs a 3-1 advantage. Pirri also assisted on the play for his third point of the contest.

Chicago cut into the Hogs lead while on their third power-play opportunity. A Brad Hunt shot through traffic was deflected by Eric Kattelus off the glove of IceHogs goaltender Carter Hutton and into the back of the net to bring the score to 3-2.

With 44.1 seconds remaining in the middle frame, a Pirri shot from the point was blocked down by Climie, but Smith was located in front of the net to pick up the rebound and stickhandle around the sprawled out goaltender to up the Hogs advantage to 4-2.

Joe Cannata came in net for the final period for the Wolves, but he couldn’t subdue the Hogs scoring efforts.

Less than three minutes into the final frame, Beach potted the fifth Hogs goal when he one-timed a Joakim Nordstrom pass over Cannata for his 16th goal on the campaign.

Hats went flying on to the BMO Harris Bank Center ice as Smith completed his hat trick at the 7:57 mark of the third period. Smith picked up a rebound from a Jeremy Morin shot, and finished top-shelf over Cannata for his first career hat trick. Pirri was credited with his fourth assist of the night as he picked up the secondary helper.

Pirri’s record-setting sixth point came at the 16:00 mark of the third stanza when he was credited with another secondary assist, this time on Morin’s team-leading 29th goal of the season. Smith added the primary helper for his fourth and final point of the night.

Jim Vandermeer capped the scoring with 29 seconds remaining in the game when scored on the power play.

The Wolves opened the scoring at the 8:30 mark of the opening period. With the puck in the Hogs zone, Brett Sterling snatched the puck from defenseman Ryan Stanton’s possession and squeaked it under Hutton to give Chicago the 1-0 advantage.

With 6,228 in attendance tonight, it marked the fifth sellout of the season at the BMO Harris Bank Center, which set a franchise-record for average attendance of 4,515 fans per game.

Thank You Fans!: Thanks to you, the Rockford IceHogs set a new franchise record for average attendance in 2012-13. Season tickets for the 2013-14 are currently on sale by calling (815) 847-6399.



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