Photo by Greg Hamil
Sawyer breaks tie with third period game winner
Moline, Ill.-Rookies stepped up big for the Rockford IceHogs on Friday night and helped lead the Hogs to a 3-2 win over the rival Quad City Flames at the i wireless Center in Moline. All three of Rockford’s goals were potted by rookies in the contest.
On a delayed penalty late in the third period with the game tied at 2-2, rookie defenseman J.C. Sawyer tipped in a perfect cross-ice centering feed from fellow d-man Danny Groulx at 16:29 for the game-winning goal and his fourth marker of the season. Bryan Bickell also helped out on the goal, his first of two assists on the night.
Rockford grabbed an early 1-0 lead with a first period marker by Mike Radja. Radja picked up a feed from fellow rookie winger Pete MacArthur and beat Leland Irving at 5:20 of the opening frame. The goal was Radja’s fifth of the season and was also assisted by Petri Kontiola. The assist extends Kontiola’s point streak to a team season high eight straight games.
Another rookie extended Rockford’s lead to 2-0 in the second period. First year winger Dan Bertram fired in his first career professional goal past Irving at 14:00 off of a feed from Bickell. Nathan Davis also helped on the goal.
A Jordan Hendry penalty put Quad City on the power play moments after the Bertram goal and the Flames capitalized. Winger Kyle Greentree picked up a rebound in front Antti Niemi and polished off his tenth goal of the season at 14:57. Andres Eriksson and Jamie Lundmark helped.
Rockford’s 2-1 lead wouldn’t hold up in the third as the Flames tied the game off of a fluky bounce. Cam Cunning rimmed a puck into the IceHogs zone and with Niemi out to play the puck, it bounced off the dashers in front to a wide open Adam Cracknell who flipped in his fourth goal of the season at 9:23.
The IceHogs outshot the Flames 28-27 in the contest and Niemi earned his seventh win of the campaign after making 25 saves while Irving was saddled with the loss after turning away 25 Rockford shots.
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. One lucky fan will win a pair of tickets to the Winter Classic game at Wrigley Field. Also, Harlem Globetrotters tickets will be given away throughout the night along with three pairs of Blackhawks tickets to Chicago’s game on Sunday, Dec. 14 against Columbus. MembersAlliance Credit Union will be celebrating their 70th Anniversary as well.