Rockford scored in each period to take down Western Conference leaders.
Rockford, Ill. – The Rockford IceHogs (33-18-4-2) continued a recent offensive surge as they powered past the Oklahoma City Barons (34-17-3-3) to a convincing 5-1 win in front of a sold-out BMO Harris Bank Center on Friday.
The win pushes the IceHogs current winning streak to four straight games to keep pace in a tightly packed Western Conference playoff race. During Rockford’s four game hot streak the club has averaged 4.5 goals per game coming off a month in which they scored at a clip of 2.8 goals per game.
Another tough matchup awaits Rockford on Saturday as they host the Midwest Division leading Grand Rapids Griffins, who sit just three points ahead of the IceHogs and pace the West with their own win on Friday.
Rockford jumped out to an early 2-0 lead before the Barons could muster any response. Using the game’s first power play, the Hogs spent much of their time with the extra man in the Oklahoma City zone before Peter Regin connected off a laser cross-ice pass from Ryan Hartman with nine second remaining on the advantage. The marker is the fourth straight game in which Rockford has cashed in with the extra man.
Then, just under four minutes later, defenseman Stephen Johns held in a Barons clear out attempt before skating in with the puck and ripping his first goal of the season past goaltender Laurent Brossoit to give the IceHogs a 2-0 lead.
Jason Williams had an answer for Oklahoma City as he cut the lead in half at 13:05 of the opening frame but that would be all the Barons would manage. A faceoff win in the IceHogs end sent the puck back to Williams where he rifled two shots at the Hogs’ cage. The first was blocked out in front but Williams snagged the loose puck and made the second attempt count just seven seconds into the power play to make it a 2-1 score.
The IceHogs continued their recent offensive surge with two more in the middle stanza to take command of the game. Defenseman Zach Miskovic ripped a shot that Cody Bass redirected past Brossoit 3:31 into the period before Spencer Abbott tallied his eighth goal of the season and first in an IceHogs sweater at the six minute mark. Pierre-Cedric Labrie fired a shot that deflected straight to the stick of Abbott and he scooped in the rebound to push the lead to 4-1.
Before the scoring was done however, Rockford’s leading goal scorer Garret Ross added his name to the scoresheet in the final frame to ice the game. Ross continued his recent hot stretch by registering his 18th of the season and third in as many games at 14:30 in the third period to seal off a dominant performance by Rockford and a 5-1 win.
Goaltender Michael Leighton had another solid performance in net, stopping 29 of the 30 shots that came his way to earn his 15th win of the season.
Next Home Game: Saturday, Mar. 7 vs. Grand Rapids Griffins. Face-off is at 7 p.m. It’s red-out night at the BMO as fans are encouraged to wear red and the first 1,500 people into the building will receive a special commemorative t-shirt compliments of Toyota. Following the game, all fans are invited onto the ice to participate in a postgame shootout for a chance to win pizza prizes courtesy of Papa John’s.