Rockford, IL- The Rockford IceHogs (21-18-3-1) jumped on the Grand Rapids Griffins (20-19-5-2) early in the game Sunday at BMO Harris Bank Center, but after the first period all momentum shifted towards the Griffins to give them a 5-2 win and weekend sweep over the Hogs.
In the first period, Rockford was on the penalty kill for just over a minute before Grand Rapids defenseman Jared McIsaac was called for interference and the game went to 4-on-4 hockey.
In his first game back as an IceHog after being with the Blackhawks since mid-December, forward Brett Connolly put Rockford on the board first when he scored on a pass from forward Dylan McLaughlin right off the draw at 15:41. It was Connolly’s first goal since Nov. 19 against the Chicago Wolves.
Rockford then had an abbreviated power play and just 23 seconds after the first goal, forward Mike Hardman found the back of the net for his eighth goal of the season and fourth in the last five games to give the IceHogs a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission.
But from there it became all Grand Rapids. The Griffins quickly responded in the second period on the power play. After Rockford forward Jakub Pour was called for slashing, McIsaac capitalized on the man-advantage with a one-timer that beat IceHogs goaltender Cale Morris to make it a 2-1 game.
In Morris’ first start since Feb. 5, he turned away 33 shots but Griffins netminder Victor Brattstrom made 31 saves to earn the win.
Later in the second period after an extended penalty kill and several failed clearing attempts, Grand Rapids found a seam and forward Tyler Spezia scored through a screen from 15 feet out to tie the game.
The Griffins picked up right where they left off in the third period. Just 1:06 into the closing frame forward Jonatan Berggren score on a one-timer to give Grand Rapids their first lead of the night.
Later in the period Griffins forward Turner Elson forced a turnover and set forward Joe Veleno up for the slapshot goal to extend Grand Rapids lead 4-2.
Elson then sealed the game with an empty-net goal at 1:06 as the Griffins skated away with the weekend sweep.
Rockford’s next game will come Friday, Feb. 25 when they travel to Iowa for a 7PM start with the Wild at Wells Fargo Arena. It will be the first of three straight games for Rockford as they will immediately return home for matchups with the Texas Stars on Saturday, Feb. 26 and Sunday, Feb. 27 at BMO Harris Bank Center. Make sure you’re at the BMO early to be one of the first 1,500 fans in the building to receive an exclusive IceHogs fleece blanket Saturday night!
Watch and listen to the action on the IceHogs Broadcast Network presented by BMO Harris Bank! Tune in from your favorite device, at home or on the road at IceHogs.com and on the IceHogs app! Fans can also watch every IceHogs home game and select road games this season on 23.3 Circle TV and every game on AHLTV and listen in on all of Mid-West Family’s local stations including 104.9 The X, B103, 95.3 The Bull, and Rockford Greatest Hits 100.5 and featured on Rock River Current.