Rockford, Ill. - The Rockford IceHogs (18-10-3-1) have had no problem generating their fair share of premium scoring chances. They just haven't been able to finish them. The IceHogs' recent offensive woes continued on Friday night in a 2-1 loss to the Iowa Wild (10-18-1-1) in front of 5,161 at the BMO Harris Bank Center.
While the shot deficit was not quite historic like it was in the two squads' last meeting, the IceHogs once again found a way to control the pace of the game, outshooting the Wild 39-24. But just like the 5-1 loss in Des Moines on Dec. 16, Rockford could not translate their opportunities into goals. Over their last two games, the IceHogs have outshot the Wild 98 to 49, but have been outscored 7-2.
Jordan Schroeder's go-ahead tally 15:46 into the second period stood to be the game winner, as John Curry turned in another strong performance against the IceHogs, turning aside 38 shots pick up the win. Rockford held a 14-4 edge in the shot column in the third period but could not solve the Wild netminder to find the tying goal. Curry has now stopped 71 of 73 shots in his last two starts against the IceHogs.
Rockford had built momentum after a Teuvo Teravainen equalizer halfway through the period, but Schroeder countered with his sixth goal of the season, scoring in spectacular fashion. Parked above the crease with his back to Rockford goalie Michael Leighton, Schroeder corralled a Matt Dumba rebound and slid it between his legs into the empty cage.
The score was tied thanks to a great shorthanded effort from the IceHogs which culminated in Teravainen's marker at 9:29 of the second. After T.J. Brennan chipped the puck out from his own end, Cody Bass won a foot race to the Iowa half wall, where he chopped the loose puck to the middle, and the waiting stick of Teravainen. All it took was a quick move and a flick of the wrist for the rookie forward to grab his fifth goal of the season.
Iowa opened the game's scoring in the first period when they took advantage of an IceHogs penalty. Pinned in deep in their end with Pierre-Cedric Labrie in the box, a failed Rockford clearing attempt landed on the stick of Michael Keranen. In one fluid motion, Keranen moved the puck to Tyler Graovac at the left circle who ripped home the game's first goal at 9:52 of the period. Keranen finished the game with two assists, giving him six helpers over his last four outings.
Despite taking his third-straight loss, Leighton played strong in the Rockford cage. The veteran made 22 saves, including a few key stops in the third period to keep his team within striking distance.
Friday's loss marks the fourth straight for the IceHogs (0-3-1-0), as well as the fourth straight loss at the BMO. It was the fourth consecutive contest where Rockford has scored two or fewer goals, a streak dating back to a 5-2 win in Lake Erie on Dec. 13. Even with their recent struggles, the IceHogs still hang on to their lead in the AHL's Midwest Division.
Rockford has two more games lined up in their post-Christmas home stand, beginning on Sunday against the Wolves, who sit three points behind them for the division lead.
Next Home Game: Sunday, Dec. 28, vs. Chicago Wolves. Face-off is set for 4 p.m. for another Illinois Lottery Cup showdown. The first 2,500 fans to the game will receive a set of 2014-15 IceHogs trading cards courtesy of the Rockford Register Star. A select number of the card sets will be autographed and contain prizes, including Blackhawks tickets. Fans are encouraged to bring their skates to the game as they will be allowed to join the IceHogs on the ice following the contest for another “Skate with the Hogs” event.