HERSHEY, Pa. – John Hayden streaked down the wing on a 2-on-1 just under two minutes into overtime and wired a shot past netminder Vitek Vanacek’s blocker to lead the Rockford IceHogs to a 4-3 victory over the Hershey Bears at Giant Center Saturday night.
Hayden’s goal came after Rockford coughed up three separate one-goal leads during the game. Matthew Highmore notched the lone goal of the opening frame to jump-start the IceHogs, swiping home a rebound from a Hayden wrist shot. With his goal, Highmore snapped a six-game goal drought, and set a new franchise AHL record for goals by a rookie with 21 tallies this season.
Midway through the second period, Hershey got on the board as Liam O’Brien found twine for the 14th time this season. William Pelletier then posted his first of two goals on the night to put Rockford ahead once more heading into the second intermission. Pelletier received a breakaway pass from Adam Clendening and slipped the puck five-hole for his eighth of the year.
Clendening’s assist pushed him into a tie for most points (134) and assists (110) all-time by an IceHogs defenseman.
The Bears fought back in the third period with an early goal by Travis Boyd, but another strike from Pelletier again sent Rockford ahead. The teams played scoreless hockey until just over five minutes remained in the game, when Riley Barber forced overtime with a power-play goal.
Rockford’s Collin Delia stopped 11 of 14 shots for his third win in his last four starts. Vanacek starred for Hershey at the other end of the ice, turning aside 36 of 40 pucks in defeat.
Next Home Game: Wednesday, Feb. 28 | Rockford vs Texas Stars (7 p.m.)
The IceHogs welcome the Texas Stars to the BMO Harris Bank Center for a Fas Fuel Winning Weekday at 7 p.m. Fans can enjoy discounted hot dogs, select beer and companion tickets. If the Hogs win, tickets from Wednesday’s game can be redeemed for a ticket of equal or lesser value to the following Fas Fuel Winning Weekdays game on Tuesday, March 13. Former Chicago Blackhawks defenseman and Stanley Cup champion Brian Campbell will also be in attendance, and a select number of fans will have the chance to get an autograph. Tickets can be purchased at IceHogs.com, by calling (815) 968-5222 or in-person at the BMO Harris Bank Center Box Office.