Photo by Greg Hamil
Rockford, Ill. – It was the first meeting at the BMO Harris Bank Center between the Rockford IceHogs and Grand Rapids Griffins and for the first 40 minutes of play it was a back-and-forth affair. However, four unanswered Griffins goals helped lift Grand Rapids to a 6-3 victory.
With the second period nearing a close and the score knotted at 2-2, the Griffins’ Gustav Nyquist set-up Riley Sheahan in front of the Rockford net, and he squeaked the puck by IceHogs tender Carter Hutton for his second tally of the evening, allowing Grand Rapids to take a 3-2 lead.
Five minutes into the third, the Griffins began to extend their lead out of comeback reach for the IceHogs when Tomas Tatar delivered to give the Griffins a 4-2 lead.
Two minutes later, Jeff Hoggan slipped in a fifth Grand Rapids goal at the 9:54 mark, before Landon Ferraro added the sixth Griffins tally to increase their lead to 6-2.
Grand Rapids got on the board first to take a 1-0 lead at 7:10 in the first period. Positioned behind the IceHogs goal, Triston Grant set up Brent Raedeke in front and he chipped in his second goal on the campaign.
The Griffins wasted little time extending the lead to 2-0 with a power play tally just nine seconds into a man advantage. Nyquist fired a puck from the blue line that took a hard bounce off the back boards and straight to the stick of Sheahan. Sheahan picked up the puck and flipped it over the shoulder of Hutton at 8:01 of the opening frame.
Less than two minutes before the end of the first period, Martin St. Pierre intercepted a Grand Rapids clearing attempt and found Jeremy Morin on the doorstep who wristed in his 11th goal of the campaign to cut the Griffins lead in half to 2-1.
Midway through the second period and just moments after a 5-on-3 man advantage expired, Ben Smith delivered his team-leading 15th goal of the season to even the score at 2-2 at the 7:52 mark. Brett Lebda and St. Pierre assisted on the play.
Despite being behind by four, a late third period goal from Peter LeBlanc gave the game it’s final score of 6-3.
Next Home Game: Puck drops at 7:05 p.m. as the IceHogs and Griffins rematch at the BMO Harris Bank Center. Rockford and Grand Rapids will meet three times in 11 days, all in Rockford. The IceHogs will welcome their two millionth fan through the gates and award them with the Ultimate IceHogs Fan Package, including season tickets to the next two seasons.