04/04/2008 11:17 AM
Article By: Mike Peck
Hogs puck-stopper finding rhythm
Moline, Ill.- To say bounces hadn’t been going Corey Crawford’s way with the Rockford IceHogs in February and March might be an understatement. Following a solid outing on Sunday, Crawford didn’t let up on the Quad City Flames on Friday night turning away 29 Quad City shots to earn his third shutout of the season in Rockford’s 3-0 win. The two mini-two game winning streak for Crwaford follows a personal seven game losing stretch.
Scoring chances were at a premium in the first period as the IceHogs and Flames skated to a scoreless opening stanza. Rockford worked eight shots in on Flames goalie Curtis McElhinney while Quad City countered with seven shots on Crawford.
The game remained scoreless until late in the second period when Troy Brouwer broke the stalemate. Brouwer picked up a Martin St. Pierre pass and slid a power-play marker past McElhinney in traffic at 17:41. The power-play goal was Brouwer’s AHL leading 22nd of the season and his team-leading 32nd goal overall this season.
Niklas Hjalmarsson extended Rockford’s lead to 2-0 with another power-play goal. Hjalmarsson fired a shot through traffic for his fourth goal of the season at 7:40 of the third frame. The goal was the third of the year for Hjalmarsson against Quad City. Brouwer and Petri Kontiola assisted on the goal.
Bryan Bickell then sealed the game for Rockford when he fired in an empty net goal at 19:08 of the final frame unassisted.
Rockford finished the contest 2-for-6 on the power play against the AHL’s third stingiest penalty kill while holding the Flames to 0-for-6 on the advantage.
With Rockford’s win and a loss by the Peoria Rivermen, the IceHogs magic number to clinch a Calder Cup Playoff spot is now two points.
Next Home Game: Saturday, April 5 vs. San Antonio Rampage. The puck drops at 7:05 p.m. A key West Division match-up at the MetroCentre as the IceHogs and Rampage meet for the final time in the regular season. The game is the IceHogs Charitable Foundation’s annual Jersey Auction presented by Saturn as the IceHogs wear special jerseys that will be auctioned following the game. The first 1,000 fans to the game will pick up a jersey auction t-shirt courtesy of Saturn of Rockford, Dental Dimensions, Alpha Controls & Services and 13WREX.