KALAMAZOO, Mich - The Rockford IceHogs and Kalamazoo Wings combined for 11 goals, 34 penalties and 139 penalty minutes as the Wings withstood a late Hogs rally to win, 6-5, in Game 4 and even the Colonial Cup finals series at two games apiece at Wings Stadium.
Five different IceHogs skaters scored a goal in the defeat, but the surge of offense fell just short of a Kalamazoo attack which was sparked by multiple goals in each of the first two periods.
Kory Karlander wasted little time finding the back of the net for his first of two scores in the game. The forward extended his goal streak to three straight games against the IceHogs when he cashed in a feed from Nick Bootland at 4:25, buoying the Wings to a 1-0 advantage.
Following a strike from Mike McLean, Bootland also scored a goal of his own to cap the three-tally first period for Kalamazoo, and finished with a game-high three points (1g, 2a) in the contest.
Rockford then began to find its footing after the Wings rushed to their 3-0 lead in the opening period, as winger Benoit Doucet collected a pass from Dan Boeser to fire home a power-play goal past Ryan Nie to make it 3-1 at 15:14 in the opening stanza.
After Wings forward Karlander buried his second goal of the contest to again open a three-goal advantage for Kalamazoo at 3:03 in the second frame, the Hogs rallied for a pair of unanswered goals to roar back within just one tally. Captain Nathan Lutz potted his first goal of the series on an unassisted strike at 8:01, and just 1:07 later, Jason Notermann lit the lamp for the third time in six postseason contests to pull Rockford within a goal at 4-3.
Both clubs picked up the intensity on the ice with a combined six penalties in less than 10 minutes of hockey to finish the second period. However, as the dust settled, Wings defenseman Ryan Mahrle capitalized on a late power-play chance to beat Hogs goaltender Frederic Cloutier and give Kalamazoo a 5-3 lead
entering the final stanza.
An uneventful first half of the third period proved to be the calm before the storm for the IceHogs and Wings, and after Bruce Watson nearly completed the IceHogs’ comeback with a strike at 14:45, an empty-net goal at 18:55 from Kalamazoo’s Tyler Willis set off a series of altercations which resulted in both goaltenders leaving the crease and a combined 105 penalty minutes between the two clubs.
Once tensions were resolved, Chaz Johnson scored a short-handed goal for Rockford to cut the deficit to 6-5 with 41 seconds remaining in regulation. However, the Wings withstood the Hogs’ last-gasp attempt for a comeback, prevailing 6-5 and evening the Colonial Cup Championship series at 2-2.
Including Game 4, the home team has now won each contest in the championship series.
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