Rockford, Ill. - Mitch Callahan led the Grand Rapids Griffins to a 9-1 drubbing of the Rockford IceHogs with three goals and two assists in the first game back from the All-Star break.
The defeat marked the worst-ever home loss for the IceHogs, the biggest losing margin of the season, and first time the team had given up more than seven goals this season since doing so twice in their first four contests.
Goaltender Michael Leighton saw his 13-game unbeaten streak snapped, and Mark McNeill’s team-season long point streak stopped at nine games (4g-10a).
Mike Liambas got the IceHogs on the board with his first goal of the season just 3:31 into the contest. While on the penalty kill following a boarding minor to Jake Dowell, Liambas broke up a play in the IceHogs defensive zone and raced the length of the ice with Chris DeSousa before wristing the puck in off the bottom of the glove of Griffins goaltender Tom McCollum.
Grand Rapids answered only 17 seconds later just as the power play expired. Callahan notched his 10th of the season to equalize after being left open in front of Leighton.
The Griffins picked up their second, and ultimately game-winning goal in similar fashion to the first at 14:30 of the opening frame. Only 13 seconds after the IceHogs killed off a tripping penalty to Dowell, Xavier Ouellet pumped a slap shot on net from the left wing that beat Leighton glove-side.
Rockford sought to enter the second with a one-goal deficit, but Martin Frk and the Griffins had other plans. Nick Jensen and Callahan dug a puck out of traffic in front, and Frk buried his 15th of the season with just 11.1 seconds to play in the first.
The second period was no kinder to the IceHogs. Kirill Gotovets received a major and game misconduct for boarding only 2:02 into the stanza, and Callahan potted his second of the night off a netmouth scramble 1:14 into the man advantage to extend the Griffins lead to three.
Penalty trouble continued to plague Rockford in the second, and Grand Rapids picked up its fifth of the contest when Frk scored his second of the night at 11:03 following a high-sticking double minor to Marko Dano to chase Leighton from the game.
Grand Rapids only took 3:05 to solve Mac Carruth, as Tomas Nosek took a backhand feed from Daniel Cleary before stretching to his forehand to sweep home the sixth Griffins goal of the evening.
The Griffins added three more tallies in the final frame as Jeff Hoggan scored a breakaway goal, Callahan completed the hat trick, and Eric Tangradi picked up his 17th of the season.
Grand Rapids went 4-for-10 on the power play while Rockford was 0-for-4 with the man advantage.
Next Home Game: Sunday, Feb. 14 vs. Grand Rapids Griffins at 4 p.m. Rockford faces off against Grand Rapids again on Valentine’s Day. The meeting will round up a set of three meetings in 10 nights.