Rockford, Ill – When the horn sounded at the end of the second period on Friday it appeared the Rockford IceHogs (29-18-4-2) were going to escape Quicken Loans Arena with a victory. A lot can change in 20 minutes however, as it was the Lake Erie Monsters (24-19-4-3) picking up a 3-2 win to start a weekend doubleheader in Cleveland.
The IceHogs began the game drawing the first three penalties but were then whistled for the next six infractions. Lake Erie capitalized on two of the six penalties during the game, including one with fewer than two minutes left in regulation.
Late in the contest and the score tied at two, the IceHogs again found themselves on the wrong side of a 5-on-4 advantage. Lake Erie’s Andrew Agozzino picked up a pass from Mitchell Heard and fired the puck behind Scott Darling with just 32.4 seconds left to give the home squad the 3-2 victory.
The IceHogs came out in the opening frame by drawing three power plays but were unable to capitalize. Lake Erie successfully killed off on the penalties and began to up the pressure on Darling and the IceHogs.
The first half of the contest went scoreless with the Monsters dominating the shot chart, but it was the Hogs that struck first. With the puck in the Rockford end, Peter Regin took the disc and weaved his way through Monsters defenders before it looked like he was going to go in for a wrap around attempt on Calvin Pickard. Regin however, slid a backhanded pass in front of the net to Kirill Gotovets who had jumped up from the blueline. Gotovets fired a shot over the blocker of Pickard to score his first career AHL tally in his IceHogs debut to give the Hogs a 1-0 advantage with 6:09 left in the second period.
Lake Erie was able to tie the game early in the final period as Michael Schumacher bagged his first of two scores on the night. Following a pair of icings by the IceHogs, Joey Hishon fed Schumacher for his seventh goal of the season 1:12 into the third period.
A few minutes later, Schumacher struck again, this time on the man advantage as the Hogs were called for goaltender interference. Schumacher received a backdoor pass from Hishon and he fired a shot past a diving Darling to give the home team its first lead of the contest despite having a 35-12 shot advantage at the time of the goal.
Down by the score of 2-1 midway through the final stanza, the Hogs wouldn’t go away quietly. Garret Ross bagged his team leading 15th tally of the campaign after he followed his initial shot that hit off a Monsters defender. Ross snuck the rebound attempt behind Pickard to tie the contest at two with 9:33 remaining.
The IceHogs were held to a season low 16 shots on net, with Pickard stopping 14 to improve his record to 14-8-4. Darling was tagged with his eighth loss of the campaign despite blocking 35 of the 38 shots fired his way.
Next Home Game: Friday, Mar. 6 vs. Oklahoma City at 7 p.m. The IceHogs complete their season series with the Barons as Oklahoma City returns to the BMO for Rockford Hockey Club Night. Rockford will be recognizing youth hockey in the community by wearing specialty Rockford Hockey Club sweaters during the game.