Rockford, Ill.- Yet another close game for the Rockford IceHogs as they closed out the 2011-12 campaign on Saturday, but the Hogs couldn’t quite pull out the victory as the Charlotte Checkers took a 4-3 shootout victory in front of 5,148 fans at the BMO Harris Bank Center.
Photo by Greg Hamil
Down 3-2 with less than two minutes to go in regulation, Rockford pulled goalie Kent Simpson, who was making his AHL debut, in favor of a 6-on-4 advantage as Justin Krueger sat in the box for a delay of game penalty. Rockford wasn’t able to convert on the two-man advantage, but with less than a minute to go in the third and the IceHogs still with the extra attacker, Brandon Svendsen capitalized to tie the game. Rob Flick put a shot on goal that Justin Peters blocked down, but Svendsen was there to clean up the rebound as he knocked home his fourth goal of the season to make it 3-3 with 43 seconds left on the scoreboard.
After a scoreless overtime session, the IceHogs found themselves in a shootout for the second straight night. Brandon Pirri scored the only goal for the Hogs while Justin Shugg, Chris Terry and Matthew Pistilli all notched markers for Charlotte as they scored the win.
In the first period, Peter LeBlanc gave Rockford an early advantage with his team-leading 24th goal of the season at the 6:26 mark. Svendsen put a shot on goal from the top of the right faceoff circle that Peters stopped, but LeBlanc picked up the rebound and flipped the puck behind Peters to give the IceHogs a 1-0 lead.
Charlotte then tied the contest at the 12:54 mark of the opening frame. Chris Durno fed a pass to Nicolas Blanchard behind the Rockford net, and the winger stuffed a wrap-around attempt past Simpson to make it a 1-1 game.
The IceHogs started the middle stanza on the man advantage after Mathieu Roy was tagged with a high-sticking penalty at the end of the first, and Rockford reclaimed the lead with a power-play tally just one minute into the frame. Ryan Stanton and Ben Youds set up Jeremy Morin, who was waiting on the doorstep and tipped his 18th tally on the campaign past Peters to give Rockford a 2-1 advantage.
Later in the frame, Charlotte garnered a power-play marker of their own to even the score again. Bobby Sanguinetti fired a shot from the blue line that Zach Boychuk redirected past Simpson to make it 2-2 at the 8:41 mark of the second period.
Evgenii Dadonov put Charlotte on top at 12:58 of the final stanza. The winger let go of a slapshot from the left faceoff circle and beat the IceHogs netminder top-shelf on his blocker side, giving the Checkers a 3-2 lead. Brett Sutter and Boychuck earned helpers on the play.
Simpson made 38 saves in his AHL debut but was tagged with the shootout loss. Peters turned away 34 Rockford shots to earn the win.
Rockford went 1-for-5 on the man advantage while Charlotte tallied once on four opportunities.