Rockford, Ill. – An early two goal lead wasn’t enough for the Rockford IceHogs as they dropped a 5-4 contest in a shootout to the Chicago Wolves on Friday at the BMO Harris Bank Center.
The Hogs however did finish off a four game home stretch by picking up points in all four contests and have now won six of their last seven tilts.
Chicago’s league worst power play has haunted the IceHogs in the five previous head-to-head matchups, converting on 32% of their opportunities against Rockford, and the trend continued as the Wolves converted twice in the first period with the man advantage to erase a two-goal deficit.
Brent Regner fed Dmitrij Jaskin and he wristed the puck to the back of the net 36 seconds into Chicago’s first power play to make it a 2-1 game. Then, Mark Mancari put a rebound past Kent Simpson on a power play 5:22 later, at 16:26, in the first frame to tie the game at 2-2.
To begin the second period Rockford was able to kill off two penalties that carried over from the first period, but the Wolves took the lead when Tyler Shattock found Shane Harper driving to the net and he flipped it in to take a 3-2 lead at 3:46 of the sandwich frame.
With a 5-on-3 to start the third period, the IceHogs took advantage and tied the game back up at three apiece. Adam Clendening sent a pass from the blue line to a wide open Brandon Pirri in front of the net and the AHL All-Star game MVP tapped his sixth goal of the season past Wolves netminder Jake Allen at the 2:00 mark in the third.
Midway through the third period, Mark McNeill gave the IceHogs a 4-3 lead. After firing a puck at the net, McNeill skated around his defender and cleaned up his own rebound for the tie-breaking goal.
The lead wouldn’t stand, however, as the Wolves pulled Allen with 45 seconds left in regulation. After a few chances couldn’t find the net, Keith Aucoin slid the puck past Simpson for the game-tying goal with just 3.5 seconds left to send the contest to overtime.
The two teams couldn’t settle the dispute in extra time and found their way to a shootout. It took eight rounds to find a victor as Simpson stopped four of the eight Chicago attempts, but Allen kept out five of Rockford’s shooters.
The Wolves gained the extra point and the win when Alexandre Bolduc converted on his attempt to hand the IceHogs a 5-4 shootout loss.
Rockford got the scoring started in the game with two tallies to jump out to an early 2-0 lead. Just 1:27 into the opening frame Klas Dahlbeck sent Jeremy Morin racing into the Wolves zone. Morin picked up the pass and danced around a defender before slipping his 16th goal of the season past Allen.
The Morin and Dahlbeck connection struck again at 6:54 in the first period. This time it was Morin with the feed to the d-man. After another great move around a defender by Morin, he dished the puck to Dahlbeck for a one-timer to the back of the net for a 2-0 lead.
Next Home Game: Friday, Feb. 21 vs. Chicago Wolves. Opening face-off is set for 7 p.m. at the BMO Harris Bank Center as the Wolves return to Rockford for a second consecutive Friday night matchup. The first 2,500 fans to the BMO will receive an IceHogs water bottle courtesy of Rock Valley Culligan.