Rosemont, Ill – Despite a thrilling third period comeback by the Rockford IceHogs (18-6-2-2), the Chicago Wolves (13-10-1-2) skated off victorious courtesy of Zach O’Brien’s overtime tally.
The loss snapped the IceHogs five-game road winning streak and marked the first defeat to the Wolves of the season.
The Wolves opened the scoring 9:20 into the contest on a power play. Ty Rattie whipped a cross-ice pass to Peter Harrold, whose wrister fell directly in front of Michael Leighton. Jordan Caron picked up the loose puck and scooped a backhander to the back of the net for his ninth goal of the season.
Jeremy Morin answered the Chicago tally in just nine seconds, collecting a neutral zone feed from Vince Hinostroza and beating Pheonix Copley from the high slot for his third goal in as many games.
Chicago continued its early power play success by capitalizing on its second opportunity of the opening frame. A shot from Jordan Schmaltz bounced right to Eriah Hayes, who batted his follow-up effort under Leighton to regain the lead at 12:31.
Neither team found the scoresheet in the middle period, but Rockford came within inches of tying the match with just over 13 minutes to play. Pierre-Cedric Labrie flung a backhand try on goal, which sat in the blue paint under Copley for a moment but was swept away just before Hinostroza could poke it home.
Marko Dano came even closer with just over seven minutes to play in the second. Tanner Kero’s shot ricocheted off the end boards to Dano, who rang the follow up chance off the crossbar.
Chicago picked up the two-goal lead just 1:02 into the third. While on the man advantage, Chris Butler fired a point shot off the post behind Leighton. The puck bounced off the back of the IceHogs goaltender, and Jeremy Welsh slammed it home.
Rockford rallied just a minute later to get back within one goal. Kirill Gotovets found Cameron Schilling off the rush, who blasted a one-timer under the blocker of Copley for his first goal of the season.
Morin and Erik Gustafsson combined to force overtime despite a late power play to Chicago. On a shorthanded rush, Morin waited out the Wolves defense before ripping the puck through a screen by Gustafsson and over the pad of Copley at 16:57.
O’Brien denied the comeback in overtime. Ivan Barbashev found Peter Harrold with a cross-ice pass, and Harrold put a centering pass right on the tape of O’Brien, who finished off an easy tap-in 3:55 into the extra frame.
Copley stopped 33 shots in the victory, while Leighton turned aside 34 in the loss.
Next Home Game: Dec. 21 vs. Milwaukee Admirals at 7 p.m. The IceHogs and Admirals square off in a border battle at the BMO. The first 2,500 fans through the turnstiles will receive a Teuvo Teravainen Bobblehead thanks to Dental Dimensions. It’s also another “Winning Weekday.” Every time the IceHogs win at home on a weekday, each fan in attendance will receive a free ticket to the next weekday game. Fans can also enjoy $2 beers, sodas, hot dogs, and companion tickets.