Rockford, Ill. – Up against a tough task of facing three of the top four teams in the Western Conference this weekend, the Rockford IceHogs (28-16-4-2) passed phase two by defeating the Conference leading Oklahoma City Barons (30-13-3-3) 3-1 Saturday night at the BMO Harris Bank Center.
Throughout most of the season thus far, much of the talk has been on the success of the IceHogs penalty kill unit improving from last year’s 30th ranked PK unit up to fifth in the league this season. However, the IceHogs power play unit has joined the mix as of late to provide a needed boast as well.
Rockford’s power play provided the spark from the get go as they notched the game’s first tally, marking the third straight game the IceHogs have scored with the man advantage and fourth straight game on home ice. Just 24 seconds after a Barons’ infraction, Ville Pokka blasted his fourth power play marker of the season on a one-timer past Oklahoma City’s Laurent Brossoit. Teuvo Teravainen slide a perfect cross-ice pass onto the stick of Pokka to earn his second assist in as many games for Rockford.
The IceHogs continued to pressure the Barons during the second frame like they did during the opening 20 minutes and added to the lead with 1:03 left on the clock.
Brandon Mashinter pounced on a rebound at the top of the circles and sent the loose rubber to the back of the cage. Pokka helped set up Mashinter as he fired the initial shot on Brossoit. The score for Mashinter was his ninth and gave Rockford a 2-0 lead.
Down by a pair of scores, Oklahoma City’s Andrew Miller trimmed the Hogs lead to a one goal game to begin the final frame. Miller redirected a shot from Dillon Simpson from the point and it snuck by a screened Michael Leighton.
Rockford however put an end to any momentum gained by the Miller tally as Peter Regin tipped in a shot from Zach Miskovic at the 5:24 of the final stanza. T.J. Brennan also factored in on the maker and extended his team lead in points.
Leighton was stellar in the crease for the IceHogs stopping 26 of the 27 shots he faced to earn the victory and improve his record to 13-9-4-4. Leighton’s counterpart, Brossoit, suffered the loss despite turning away 27 chances.
Next Home Game: Sunday, February 15 vs. San Antonio Rampage. Game starts at 4 p.m. The IceHogs meet up with the Rampage for the first time since Halloween weekend as their West Division foe makes its first visit to the BMO this season. The first 2,500 fans to the matinee game will receive an IceHogs water bottle courtesy of Rock Valley Culligan. Also guests are invited to bring their own skates and join the players after the game for the last “Skate With The Hogs” of the season.