Rockford, Ill.- Fans got their monies worth on the last Taco Bell Dollar Days as it was all Rockford IceHogs in their 5-1 win over the San Antonio Rampage on Wednesday night at the Rockford MetroCentre.
Photo by Greg Hamil
Rockford got on the board first for the 1-0 lead at 11:07 of the first period. The IceHogs penetrated the Rampage zone and after a few passes from Jassen Cullimore and Brandon Pirri, Jeff Taffe blasted a shot that beat Matt Climie top shelf for his team-leading 24th goal of the year.
The IceHogs quickly added to the lead to go up 2-0. Once again the Hogs were set up in the San Antonio zone, but turned the puck over behind the net. The Rampage attempted to clear the puck out along the left wall, but Ryan Stanton kept it in the zone. Stanton quickly fired a slap shot from the blue line that trickled past Climie at 13:07.
In the second period, San Antonio cut Rockford’s lead in half on the power play. Dane Byers passed the puck to a streaking Garrett Stafford who fired it on net. Hannu Toivonen kicked it away, but Matt Watkins was right there to clean up the rebound at 10:53.
With time winding down in the second, Rockford made it a two-goal game again. Brian Connelly dished it to Mathis Olimb down low and Olimb slid it across the top of the crease to an open Ben Smith who one-timed it to put the Hogs up 3-1 at 18:16.
Rockford added an insurance goal to start the third period. With the Hogs on the power play, Shawn Lalonde found Peter LeBlanc on the right circle. LeBlanc sent it above the crease to an open Igor Makarov who chipped it in to give the Hogs the 4-1 lead at 2:50. Pirri factored in on the play with a helper.
Moments later Rockford added to their lead to break the game open. Rob Klinkhammer wristed a shot on net which was turned away by Climie. The puck ended up in the hands of Stanton on top of the slot and Stanton sent a slapper to the back of the net for the second time of the evening to put the IceHogs up 5-1 at 4:38 in the third period.
The 5-1 lead would hold out for the rest of the game and Toivonen picked up his 15th win of the season. Toivonen turned away 39-of-40 San Antonio shots. Meanwhile, Climie stopped 22-of-27 Rockford shots.
The IceHogs’ penalty kill held strong against San Antonio’s number one ranked power play in the AHL by killing off a 5-on-3 and only allowing the Rampage to convert on one of seven attempts. The IceHogs went one for two on their man advantages.
Next Home Game: Friday, March 25 vs. Hamilton Bulldogs. Puck drop is at 7:05 p.m. The first 2,500 fans to the game will receive an IceHogs Gym Bag compliments of Comcast, Kanga Roof and Members Alliance.