Special teams lead the way in 2-1 Wolves victory
Rockford, Ill. – One area that had been a non-factor in the first three games of the 2014-15 Illinois Lottery Cup series had been power plays.
The script was flipped on Saturday night at Allstate Arena, as all three goals in a 2-1 Rockford IceHogs (15-5-1-1) loss to the Chicago Wolves (12-6-3-0) were scored with the extra man. The defeat was the second in as many nights for Rockford against their in-state rivals.
The Wolves have been lethal in the second period so far this season, with a plus-13 goal differential entering the contest, and to make matters worse Rockford gave them an extra skater to start the middle frame on Saturday. Chicago took full advantage of the power play and grabbed a 1-0 lead just 50 seconds into the period. Brent Regner set up Ty Rattie just above the faceoff circle and the winger blasted his league-best 13th goal of the season past Michael Leighton.
Chicago added to the lead in third period, again with the man advantage. Defenseman Brent Sopel fired a shot from the blueline that Shane Harper tipped to the back of the net to push the score to 2-0 at the 5:06 mark in the third.
Rockford fought back with four minutes to go in the final period. With Brent Regner in the box for an interference minor and serving a bench minor, Ville Pokka connected on a drive from the faceoff circle to bring the score to 2-1.
The IceHogs were pressing for the equalizer with Leighton on the bench, but could not find a way to recreate the last minute comeback that their opponent pulled off 24 hours prior.
Leighton, who was sidelined for six games due to an injury, returned to action for the first time since Nov. 11and was stellar in net despite being handed the loss. The Rockford goaltender stopped a season-high 39 shots on goal.
Matt Climie turned aside 27 shots to grab the victory.
Next Home Game: Saturday, Dec. 6 vs. Grand Rapids Griffins at 7 p.m. Bring a new or gently used stuffed animal to Saturday's contest for Teddy Bear Toss Night. All the furry critters can be thrown onto the ice after the IceHogs score their first goal of the game. The stuffed animals will then be collected and donated to local hospitals and charities.