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RESILIENT HOGS TAKE LOTTERY CUP OPENER

Photo by Todd Reicher

Rockford rallies twice to earn 4-3 win over Chicago

Rockford, Ill. - The Rockford IceHogs (3-2-0-1) were not about to let a pair of deficits deny them their first home win of the season, as they delivered a thrilling 4-3 victory over their intrastate rival Chicago Wolves (3-1-2-0) on Saturday night at the BMO Harris Bank Center.

After finding a quick answer to a late second-period goal from Chicago to send the game into the third tied at three, the IceHogs found the only goal in a tight final frame, giving them the first win of the 2014-15 Illinois Lottery Cup.  Forward Brandon Mashinter found the game winning goal at 8:53 of the third, when he buried a rebound from Adam Clendening's shot.

Even with Mashinter's heroics, it looked like the Wolves were poised to take a lead into the final frame when former IceHog and Chicago Blackhawk Colin Fraser found the net at 16:58 of the second. With their offense set up in the Rockford end, Beach found Fraser all alone in the high slot, who finished the play. The two-time Stanley Cup Champion had his start in Rockford in 2007-08.

The IceHogs found the answer in the final minute of the second, as Klas Dahlbeck uncorked a cannon that beat Chicago netminder Jordan Binnington, evening the score at three.  All six of Rockford's games so far this season have been even after 40 minutes of play.

Just as they did in the second, Rockford erased a Chicago lead in a wild opening period that saw four goals, 22 shots and a plethora of quality scoring chances. It took Chicago only 55 seconds to get on the board, as Philip McRae found a soft spot behind the IceHogs defense, and beat Michael Leighton to give the Wolves an early 1-0 lead.

The lead lasted 2:32 before Dennis Rasmussen gave Rockford the equalizer, firing a quick shot over Binnington's shoulder.

Rockford used the momentum from Rasmussen's first of the year to mount even more pressure on the Chicago cage, as they found a few grade-A scoring chances before they eventually took the lead when Phillip Danault cashed in on a beautiful passing play. Mark McNeill found Peter Regin in the slot, who one-touched the puck back across the crease to a waiting Danault off of the left post.

Chicago finished the scoring in the wide-open first frame when Sabastian Wannstrom won a net-front battle for a rebound, beating Leighton to tie the game at two. The four-goal deluge in the first comes after there had been only three goals combined scored in the first 20 minutes over Rockford's first five games.

Leighton picked up his first win of the season, making 19 saves while Binnington turned aside 17 saves in a losing effort.

In what was a physical affair that was indicative of the heated rivalry the intrastate rivals share, Saturday set the tone for what is sure to be another intense season series between the IceHogs and Wolves. The two squads face off another 11 times this season as they compete for the Illinois Lottery Cup.

Next Home Game: Sunday, Oct. 26 vs. Lake Erie Monsters: Puck drop is 4 p.m. The Monsters come to town as the IceHogs celebrate Halloween at the BMO Harris Bank Center. Fans can stay after the game to trick-or-treat with the IceHogs on the BMO ice surface during the first “Skate With The Hogs” of the new season. For those without skates there will be players available for autographs in the concourse.