12/28/2017 10:02 PM
Article By: Chris Robinson
DES MOINES, Iowa – Matthew Highmore netted a hat trick, Collin Delia stopped two penalty shots en route to his first career AHL win and the Rockford IceHogs upended the Iowa Wild 6-3 Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Arena.
The high-scoring affair featured five first-period goals as the IceHogs and Wild exchanged several leads in the see-saw contest. Alexandre Fortin opened the scoring 3:02 into the opening frame but Luke Kunin immediately erased the IceHogs’ lead with a tally of his own just 12 seconds later.
Highmore responded with his first strike of the contest, collecting his own rebound a firing a shot past Steve Michalek to put Rockford ahead 2-1. Justin Kloos and Pat Cannone then scored back-to-back goals to push the Wild to a 3-2 lead through just the opening period of the contest.
Delia settled in through the second and third stanzas and combined to turn away 15 shots and earn the win. The netminder also stopped two crucial penalty shots to preserve the lead, including forcing a wide shot from Mario Lucia and surviving a quick deke from Sam Anas.
With their goaltender holding strong, the IceHogs potted four unanswered goals to put the game out of reach. Tyler Sikura sniped a goal over Michalek’s glove in the final three minutes of the second period and Highmore deflected a shot home from Tomas Jurco to give Rockford a one-goal lead with 31 seconds remaining in the second frame.
After William Pelletier added an insurance goal 2:08 into the third period, Highmore completed the hat trick on an empty-net tally in the final minute of the regulation. The rookie winger has now recorded two hat tricks in his first 31 professional games with the IceHogs.
Fortin (1g, 1a), Luke Johnson (2a), Pelletier (1g, 1a) and Sikura (1g, 1a) each finished with a multi-point effort for Rockford.
Minnesota Wild forward, Zach Parise, notched an assist in his first rehab appearance with Iowa.
Next Home Game: The Rockford IceHogs return to the BMO Harris Bank Center to host the Iowa Wild on Friday, Dec. 29. The first 2,500 fans in attendance Friday will receive a free IceHogs fleece blanket, courtesy of Dental Dimensions.