CEDAR PARK, Texas - Five different skaters scored for the Rockford IceHogs in Friday’s thrilling 5-4 win over the Texas Stars at the H-E-B Center to put them in the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division.
The IceHogs held a commanding 5-1 lead in the third period, but the Stars weren’t going down without a fight. Anthony Louis notched a goal at 8:43 to cut the Hogs lead to three before Rhett Gardner scored a shorthanded goal a few minutes later to make it 5-3.
Rockford was then whistled for delay of game with three minutes remaining, which sent the Stars on the power play. Joel L’Esperance lit the lamp on the man-advantage to cut the lead to one with just under three minutes remaining. However, the Hogs held on and fought off another penalty to reach the final horn and leapfrog the Chicago Wolves for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division.
The Rockford IceHogs opened scoring 6:25 into the first when Dylan McLaughlin skated down the left circle and found Philipp Kurashev in the slot, who took a quick wrister to beat Landon Bow to make it 1-0.
Five minutes later, Garrett Mitchell collected his fourth goal of the season when he jumped on a rebound in the slot and slid it past Bow to put the Hogs up 2-0. Reece Scarlett ended Collin Delia’s shutout bid before the end of the first period, though, to bring Texas within a goal.
Six minutes into the second frame, Tyler Sikura found the net for his 14th goal of the season when he redirected Joni Tuulola’s shot to restore Rockford’s two-goal lead and prompt Texas to switch goaltenders, bringing in Jake Oettinger to take over.
Shortly thereafter, Gabriel Gagne sauced a backhanded pass to Alexandre Fortin, who was breaking down the center of the ice. Fortin took the puck in stride and executed on the breakaway to give the IceHogs a 4-1 lead.
The IceHogs made it 5-1 at 7:58 of the third period when Anton Wedin picked up a rebound to the left of Oettinger, skated around the net and found Brandon Hagel waiting in front. Hagel, looking at a wide-open net, slapped it home to put Rockford ahead by four. The Hogs held on to take the game 5-4 and pick up a crucial two points to leap into the playoff picture.
Delia stopped 30 of 34 Texas tries on the night to pick up his 15th win of the season while Bow and Oettinger combined for 28 saves on 33 shots.
- With the win tonight, Collin Delia is now 4-0-0-0 against the Texas Stars this season…The other three wins came on Dec. 20, Feb. 4 and Feb. 26.
- Three different IceHogs collected multi-point games tonight…Alexandre Fortin notched a goal and an assist while Dennis Gilbert and Nicolas Beaudin each assisted on two goals.
- The IceHogs defeated the Texas Stars on Friday after leading 2-1 heading into the first intermission...Rockford boasts a record of 11-3-1-0 this season when leading after the opening frame but is just 10-11-0-2 when tied after one and 7-14-0-0 when trailing after one for a combined 17-25-0-2 when entering the first intermission tied or trailing.