Rockford, Ill. – Despite trailing by two goals early on, the Rockford IceHogs rallied with five unanswered tallies to knock off the Midwest Division leading Grand Rapids Griffins 5-4 in front of a packed BMO Harris Bank Center on Friday.
Down a pair of goals with 3:04 left in the first period, Brad Mills sparked the IceHogs offense when he connected off a feed from Pierre-Marc Bouchard. The tally was Mills’ seventh of the season and brought the score to 2-1.
The IceHogs continued in the middle frame right where they left off in the first. On a power play, Bouchard and Brian Connelly worked the puck around for Adam Clendening to rip a shot from the blueline. Clendening’s drive beat Tom McCollum for his ninth of the season and tied the game at 2-2.
Rockford continued the scoring and took a 3-2 lead with 2:13 left in the middle stanza. Terry Broadhurst dished a pass that Mathieu Brisebois fired to the back of the net for his first marker in a Hogs’ sweater.
Clendening gave the Hogs a 4-2 lead as he scored his second goal of the game 2:45 into the third period. The defenseman received a feed from Alex Broadhurst and he fired a shot McCollum couldn’t spot before finding the back of the net.
Right off a faceoff, the IceHogs extended the lead to 5-2 at 4:10 of the third. The draw landed on the stick of Connelly and the defenseman buried his seventh of the season to increase the IceHogs lead to 5-2.
Grand Rapids made the game interesting with two power-play strikes in the closing minutes of the game. With 5:35 left in regulation, the Griffins converted on a 5-on-3 power play when Andrej Nestrasil connected off a pass from Adam Almquist.
Nestrasil found the back of the net minutes later to pull the Griffins within one and make it a 5-4 game with just 2:12 left in the third period. The Hogs held on the rest of the way to take a 5-4 victory.
Goaltender Jason LaBarbera picked up his 14th win of the season stopping 23 shots. The IceHogs power play went 2-for-3 on the man advantage while Grand Rapids converted on four of their seven chances.
Grand Rapids got off to a quick start in the first period tallying two goals within a span of 1:06, both on the power play. The first came 7:48 into the game as Landon Ferraro got the Griffins on the board 5 seconds into a Griffins power play.
Then, with Grand Rapids on another power play, Ferraro struck again. This time Nathan Paetsch and Cory Emmerton found the winger 4 seconds into the man advantage to put the Griffins out in front 2-0.
Next Home Game: Sunday, Mar. 30 against the Chicago Wolves. The puck drops at 4 p.m. for the 15th annual Jersey Auction. It is also family value day at the BMO where fans can get four tickets, four hot dogs and four sodas all for $59.