Rockford newest skaters, Pete MacArthur and Mike Radja, have combined for four goals and three assists in the last three games. (Photo by Greg Hamil)
Rockford finished 2-2-0-1 against Peoria in November
Rockford, Ill.- No need for a comeback on Saturday. The Rockford IceHogs put four unanswered goals on the board to start the game en route to a 5-2 win over the Peoria Rivermen at the Rockford MetroCentre.
A night after needing two two-goal comebacks to snag a point in the shootout, the Hogs came out gunning and put up four goals in the back end of the home-at-home against Peoria in front of 4,435.
Rookie recall Mike Radja led the way with two goals, pushing him to three goals and an assist in his last three games.
"I'm just trying to stay focused and try to do what the coaches say," said Radja. "I try to work hard when I have to and it seems to be working out well for me right now."
The red-hot Pascal Pelletier extended his goal streak to four games (6g-1a-7pts), a season long for the IceHogs and ties Kris Versteeg for the AHL IceHogs record. The Hogs finish the week with five points on the back of 15 goals in the last three games.
"Everyone seems to be clicking," Radja said. "Pelts (Pelletier) is on fire and the lines are clicking. Mac (MacArthur), Kontiola and I seem to be clicking. Everyone is working hard and trusting in each other."
The scoring started with an Evan Brophey marker at 15:57. The winger found the back of the net after a pretty give-and-go sequence set up by Jake Dowell and Rob Klinkhammer.
Skille sent the puck past Peoria goaltender Ben Bishop later in the second to give the Hogs a two-goal lead. Skille's seventh goal of the season came at 3:13 in the second period and was helped by Pelletier and Brent.
Radja then solved Bishop for his first goal at 6:50 in the second frame to put the Hogs up 3-0. Niklas Hjalmarsson has the assist.
"We were starving for five-on-five scoring for the longest time," Rockford coach Bill Peters said. "So we're trying different guys on different lines. We were searching for it. Radja has done a good job with his call up and so had MacArthur. Pro sports are played on an interim basis, so if you continue to produce you continue to get opportunities."
Pelletier recorded his 13th goal of the season at 9:53 in the second. Danny Groulx and Brent helped.
"Our five-on-five offense is coming around," Peters said. "It's a good thing to see because we needed it. We're scoring the right way -- we're going to the net and have guys driving to the middle and finally putting pucks on net."
The Rivermen were finally able to figure out Rockford netminder Antti Niemi at 15:14 in the second period while on the power play. Peoria forward Josh Soares chipped in the loose puck with helpers from Jeff Cowan and Julian Talbot.
Radja responded just minutes later with his second goal of the night. Pete MacArthur and Petri Kontiola recorded the assists at 17:28 in the second frame.
In the intermission, Bishop was replaced by Marek Schwarz. Bishop finished with 24 saves, while Schwarz had five. Niemi rebounded from a difficult night on Friday to stop 23 shots and get the win.
"He's a proud guy and it was important for him to bounce back," Peters said. "I knew he would. We didn't have any concerns about that at all."
The second goal for the Rivermen came at 12:21 in the third period thanks to another score from Soares. His second of the night came with assists from Jim Jackson and Ivan Vishnevskiy.
Rockford penalty kill kept Peoria to 1-for-4 on the man advantage. Rockford was scoreless on the power play in four attempts.
Next Home Game: Thursday, Dec. 11 vs. Iowa Chops: Game time is slated for 7:05 p.m. The Rockford IceHogs return from a brief weekend road swing to face the Iowa Chops for the third time in 2008-09 and the first of three meetings in December. Harlem Globetrotters tickets will be given away throughout the night and MembersAlliance Credit Union will be celebrating their 70th Anniversary.