Rockford, Ill.- The Rockford IceHogs held on for a 3-2 win over the Houston Aeros on Wednesday at the Rockford MetroCentre and kept a stranglehold on third place in the West Division with their second straight win over the Aeros, who trial them in the standings by three points.
"You always want to jump on a team early," said defenseman Mike Brennan. "You always want to get on them early and we were able to do that tonight.
"The whole division is close and points in this division are pretty important."
Kyle Greentree fed Jack Skille to finish off a perfect give-and-go play at 4:15 in the first period to put the Hogs up 1-0. The IceHogs improved to 20-5-1-1 this season when they have buried the first goal.
Rob Klinkhammer added some insurance at 11:51 in the second period on a greasy goal in front of the net. Jake Dowell flipped a puck in front that deflected off of Klinkhammer's chest and past Anton Khudobin. Richard Petiot was also given a helper.
"We beared down a lot on the chances we had -- systematically that was one of our keys," Brennan said. "We needed to execute our system thoroughly and I think we did that tonight."
Chad Rau got the goal back for Houston at 15:37 on the power play off of helpers from Danny Irmen and Jamie Fraser.
"One of their goals was 6-on-5 and one was 5-on-4," Brennan said. "So 5-on-5 we were pretty thorough and I think that's how we're going to win games."
But then Evan Brophey potted his seventh goal of the season with seconds left on the clock to put the Hogs back up by two going into the final frame. Pete MacArthur and Akim Aliu were credited with the assists.
The third period was quiet until 17:36 when Maxim Noreau netted his tenth goal of the season. The shot was originally called a no goal, but later changed when the referee ruled the puck went through the net. Jean-Michel Daoust and Jon DiSalvatore assisted on the play
The Aeros went 1-for-5 on the power play while Rockford was shut out in four opportunities against one of the league's best penalty kills.
Corey Crawford picked up a win on 24 saves in his first game at the MetroCentre since Nov. 13. Khudobin had 18 saves in the loss.
Next Home Game: Friday, Jan. 15 vs. Houston Aeros. Game time is 7:05 p.m. Come early as the first 1,500 kids 14-and-under will receive an IceHogs Youth Jersey courtesy of Feldco, ESPN Radio 1380 and FOX 39. The game starts at 7:05 p.m. and is the fourth contest in eight days against the Aeros.