Rockford, Ill. – Less than 72 hours after the Rockford IceHogs went into Milwaukee to dispose of the Admirals 6-2, the Ads returned the favor on Rockford’s home ice on Monday night at the BMO Harris Bank Center.
Milwaukee’s Max Reinhart led the Admirals high-powered attack as he finished the night with a hat trick and a +4 plus/minus rating, while Adam Payerl and Jimmy Oligny each finished with two assists.
In a penalty-filled first period, Milwaukee used an early power play to get things started after Ryan Hartman picked up a five-minute major for an illegal check to the head. Max Gortz launched a shot at the IceHogs cage that Mark Visentin blocked down but Frederick Gaudreau was on the doorstep to tap in the rebound at 4:35.
The IceHogs were able to close out the rest of the major penalty and the remainder of the opening period with the limited damage, only trailing by a goal.
Just before the first period expired, the IceHogs nearly matched Milwaukee’s early tally to go into the first intermission knotted at one. The line combination of Mark McNeill, Vince Hinostroza, and Garret Ross kept the puck pinned deep in the Admirals end with McNeill and Hinostroza each getting a bid on Marek Mazanec. The Milwaukee goaltender held strong, however, and held the visitor's advantage at 1-0.
The Admirals broke the game open in the second period, striking on three separate occasions to take control of the contest.
Forward Matt White helped double the Admirals lead when he threw a puck at the IceHogs net from the right faceoff circle. With Reinhart positioned out front, the puck deflected off his body and to the back of the net to make the score 2-0 at 10:46.
Milwaukee bumped the lead up to 3-0 as Zac Larraza potted his second goal of the season at 13:58 of the second period. The Admirals raced into the IceHogs zone on an odd-man rush and Felix Girard found Larraza streaking down the middle of the ice. The goal chased Visentin as Michael Leighton was inserted between the pipes for Rockford.
The IceHogs nearly broke through again as Daniel Paille cranked a shot that ricocheted off the Milwaukee cage with 2:56 left in the second. Right after the near-miss, Milwaukee countered and Taylor Aronson upped the ante to 4-0 with his third of the year.
Looking to erase a huge deficit to begin the final frame, the IceHogs looked to their leading scorer and hottest offensive weapon in Jeremy Morin. Garret Ross grabbed a loose puck behind the net before chipping it out for Morin to bury and get the IceHogs on on the board 1:59 into the third. Morin matched a team season-best four-game goal scoring streak with the tally and extended his point streak to five-games (4g-3a).
The IceHogs used the early goal in the third to start to swing the momentum. A big scramble in front of the Admirals cage almost led to Rockford’s second goal but somehow Mazanec kept the puck from crossing the line. Reinhart dug out the loose puck and raced the other way with Pontus Aberg on a two-on-zero breakaway. The two exchanged passes before Leighton denied an Aberg attempt from point blank to keep the Ads advantage at 4-1.
Leighton came up big again to keep Rockford alive with time winding down. With 42 seconds left on an Admirals power play, Leighton stopped Oligny as he slipped behind the defense with a big glove save.
Rockford fed off the big stops by Leighton and trimmed the lead to 4-2 with 6:31 to go in the game. Vince Hinostroza scored his second goal in as many games against the Admirals while the IceHogs were down a man. The shorthanded strike marked the fourth-straight game in which Rockford was able to score shorthanded.
Riding the momentum and running out of time, Ted Dent pulled his goaltender in favor of an extra attacker while on a power play. Milwaukee ended any chance of a comeback bid as Reinhart found the empty net for his second marker of the game with 3:14 remaining. Less than 30 seconds later, Reinhart sealed the game at 6-2 and completed his hat trick.
Mazanec was stellar all night in net for the Admirals, stopping 37 of the 39 chances he faced.
The IceHogs power play finished 0-for-6 while the Admirals converted on one of their five attempts.
Next Home Game: Saturday, Dec. 26 vs. Milwaukee Admirals at 7 p.m. The IceHogs welcome the Admirals back to the BMO Harris Bank Center after four nights off for the holiday break.