Gust Sends Hats Flying, IceHogs Topple Griffins
Rockford, Ill. — The Rockford IceHogs punctuated a 4-1 win over the Grand Rapids Griffins with an empty-net goal on Wednesday night at the BMO Center. Forward David Gust marked his second hat trick and 17th goal of the season at exactly 17 minutes in the third period.
With an extra Grand Rapids skater at 17:00 in the final frame, Gust shot the loose puck out of the left faceoff circle down the ice and into the empty Griffins’ net and bag his second hat trick in two weeks.
Playing on the same wavelength all night, Gust and forward Lukas Reichel connected on three goals in the second and third periods. Defenseman Adam Clendening shuttled a pass to Reichel from the Hogs’ defensive zone, and Reichel stopped the puck in the left circle for Gust to fire a wrister past Griffins netminder Jussi Olkinuora at 7:04 to take a 1-0 lead. Clendening marked his 300th AHL point last night.
Connecting with Reichel for the second time on his second lamp lighter of the night, Gust caught a backhanded pass from Reichel in the left circle and shoveled a wrister past Olkinuora at 13:52, tallying his 16th goal of the season and extending the lead to 2-0.
Grand Rapids forward Taro Hirose put the Griffins back within one score after flipping a shot over the shoulder of Rockford goalie Jaxson Stauber at 19:40 making it 2-1 heading into the middle intermission.
Reichel caught a Tic-Tac-Toe pass from Gust and Brett Seney and blasted a one-timer from the slot past Olkinuora at 8:59 to take a 3-1 lead in the third stanza.
Stepping in for IceHogs goaltender Arvid Soderblom at 6:14 in the scoreless first period, Stauber faced 26 Grand Rapids shots and turned away 25 to earn the win while Olkinuora made 28 saves while getting tagged with the loss. Soderblom faced five shots and was perfect before leaving the game after 6:14.
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