Cleveland, Ohio – A night after having trouble offensively and getting shots on goal, the Rockford IceHogs (30-18-4-2) responded to defeat the Lake Erie Monsters 3-2 in a rematch at the Quicken Loans Arena to earn a weekend split.
On Friday night the IceHogs were only able to generate 16 shots on goal against Lake Erie. Saturday’s rematch was a much different story as the Hogs matched their total from the previous night in the first period alone.
Rockford got it going early, getting on the board first with a power play strike from T.J. Brennan. With Lake Erie’s Michael Schumacher in the box for a tripping penalty just 1:12 into the game, Brennan cashed in on the man advantage as he ripped a shot that found it’s way through a Mark McNeill screen and past Calvin Pickard at 2:59.
Despite a dominating first period by the IceHogs, a fluky play got the Monsters on the board and back in the game in the second period. Goaltender Scott Darling came out to play a loose puck before it was stolen by Troy Bourke. Darling scrambled back into the net but Bourke slipped the puck under his legs and in. It appeared as if defenseman Zach Miskovic bailed out his netminder and was able to keep the puck from crossing the line, but after review it was determined to be a good goal to tie the game at 1-1.
It didn’t take long for the IceHogs to regain control of the game however, as Dane Walters gave the visitors the lead right back off the ensuing faceoff. Walters gathered the loose puck in the neutral zone, raced in, and caught Pickard by surprise with his first career AHL tally at 13:51, just 13 seconds after Lake Erie’s tying goal. Pierre-Cedric Labrie added to the lead for Rockford just before the second period expired. Labrie battled for a puck along the boards before coming away with it and shelving his seventh of the season to chase Pickard from the game and make it a 3-1 score.
It wasn’t easy sailing down the stretch for the IceHogs however. The Hogs had to kill off a four minute penalty as Kirill Gotovets got nailed for clipping and an unsportsmanlike penalty at 13:59. Then, with time winding down, Lake Erie pulled within one when Markus Lauridsen found the back of the net as the Monsters had an extra attacker on instead of the goaltender.
Lake Erie continued with the extra attacker for the final seconds but Darling stood strong to preserve the victory, his 14th of the season.
Rockford finished 1-for-3 on the power play while holding Lake Erie off the board in their five attempts.
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.