12/13/2008 3:06 PM - James Wisniewski records his first professional hat trick on Teddy Bear Toss Night
Rockford, Ill.- Tim Brent brought on the teddy bears then James Wisniewski caused the hats to fly as the Rockford IceHogs beat the Chicago Wolves 7-2 at the Rockford MetroCentre.
Wisniewski rocketed two goals past Chicago's Robert Gherson and slapped in a sweet feed from Jack Skille to complete the hat trick in his second conditioning game off of knee surgery this summer.
His three goals helped the Hogs return the favor to the Wolves after Rockford took a 6-1 loss on the chin just a week ago at the Allstate Arena. The rehabbing defenseman also tacked on an assist in his second game with the IceHogs.
In the first period, Tim Brent was dinged for a high-sticking penalty, but took advantage of a bad situation when a perfectly-timed pass from Wisniewski flew past the box as he was coming out. The IceHogs captain took it, drove for the goal, and gave Rockford a 1-0 lead at 12:09. The assist was Wisniewski's first AHL point since Nov. 11, 2006 when he served as a blueliner for Norfolk.
Brophey was also credited with an assist.
Wisniewski's first period was not finished however, firing a laser between the pads of Gherson. The one-timer was set up by Mike Radja and Niklas Hjalmarsson. The goal was Wisniewski's first AHL marker since March 8, 2006. The power-play score ended an IceHogs 0-for-28 slump on the advantage. The last power-play goal scored by the Hogs came on Nov. 28 against Peoria.
Joe Motzko chopped the Hogs lead in half with a power-play goal at 0:57 in the second period. It was Motzko's fifth goal against the IceHogs in just three games in the 2008-09 season. The assists were credited to Jamie Rivers and Jon Insana.
The IceHogs added to the lead over the rival Wolves with a Pete MacArthur tally in the second period. The Hogs regained the two-goal lead at 7:20 in the second frame. Kontiola and Radja were credited with the helpers.
Jeff Hamilton then recorded a power-play goal at 9:42 in the second period with helpers from Rivers and Brett Sterling making the score 3-2 in favor of the Hogs.
Wisniewski's second lamp-lighter of the night was a blast from the blue line at 14:30 in the second with helpers from Danny Groulx and Petri Kontiola.
With a 4-2 lead in the second intermission, the IceHogs broke the game open with goals from Pascal Pelletier at 2:39 and Evan Brophey at 5:12 in the third frame. Wisniewski's third-period goal at 13:52 summoned the hats from the 4,757 fans in attendance.
Corey Crawford kept the Chicago Wolves at bay stopping 42 of the Wolves' 44 shots. Crawford's save total was a team season high, as is his five game-winning streak.
Gherson recorded 24 saves in the loss. Rockford went 1-for-6 on the power play as Chicago converted on two of their seven power play opportunities.
Next Home Game: Friday, Dec. 19: Houston Aeros vs. Rockford IceHogs at 7:30 p.m. Rock Valley College, WTVO and the Rockford IceHogs are bringing back The Superfan. Cameron Hughes will be giving away t-shirts and causing a general ruckus throughout the night.