Two sides rematch at the BMO Harris Bank Center on Tuesday
Charlotte, N.C.- The Rockford IceHogs (33-16-7-4) scored in the first minute of play but were held off the scoresheet for the final 59:10, eventully falling to the Charlotte Checkers (31-24-3-3) by a 4-1 score on Sunday afternoon.
Tanner Kero got the scoring started just 50 seconds into the game. Ryan Hartman deflected a bouncing puck into the slot, and Kero corralled it before firing a wrister into the top corner of the net. It stood as the fastest goal to start a game this season for the Hogs, surpassing Kero's goal just 1:01 into the first period in the very first game of the year.
Charlotte answered back at 14:16 of the frame. A two-on-one chance turned into a three-on-two in the IceHogs zone, resulting in a wrist shot from Kyle Hagel at the left circle. Michael Leighton made the initial save, but Patrick Brown found the rebound and swatted it into the cage to tie the game at 1-1 heading into the second period.
The lone strike in the middle frame put the Checkers up to a 2-1 lead. After a puck bounced away at the attacking blue line, Andrew Miller raced into the Rockford zone and polished off the breakaway with a wrist shot under the crossbar 3:55 into the second period.
The two sides traded chances in the third with the 2-1 count holding until late in the frame. With Leighton at the bench for the extra-attacker, Blair Jones fired a wrister from his own end into the empty net with 1:11 to play. Then, Derek Ryan followed it up with another empty-netter of his own to seal the final 4-1 score.
Michael Leighton turned aside 16 of the 18 shots he faced while John Muse stopped 24-of-25 for Charlotte. Both teams failed to convert with the man advantage during the contest.
Next Home Game: Tuesday, Mar. 15 vs. Charlotte Checkers. After a weekend series in Charlotte, the two teams battle it out in Rockford. The BMO will be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day a little early. Danny’s Gone Rogue will be playing in the Blue Flame Lounge, and those age 21-and-older can take advantage of drink specials and green beer. Fans can also enjoy $2 beers, soda, and companion tickets at the game.