Rockford, Ill. - Mac Carruth turned in a stellar goaltending performance Sunday afternoon that culminated in a 13-round shootout victory for the Rockford IceHogs as they defeated the Charlotte Checkers by a 2-1 score on Star Wars Night.
Viktor Svedberg and Pierre-Cedric Labrie exchanged goals with Derek Ryan and Andrew Miller in the third and fourth rounds of an otherwise scoreless shootout before Matt Fraser potted the game-winner for the IceHogs in the top of the 13th round. After continuing the contest with eight consecutive saves on Charlotte shooters, Carruth finished off the Checkers with a glove save on Patrick Brown in the bottom of the 13th.
The first period went goalless despite bona-fide scoring chances for the IceHogs. While playing four-a-side hockey, Ryan Hartman whipped a low shot on John Muse, which was kicked into the high slot with by the right leg of the Checkers netminder. Tanner Kero hopped on the loose puck, but dubbed his follow-up try just wide of the post.
Rockford got on the board early in the middle frame courtesy of a neat combination passing play. Mark McNeill found Jake Dowell along the left wing, who stepped below the goal line before feeding Bryan Bickell at the top of the crease. Bickell converted, hammering the pass under Muse for his 15th tally of the season at 2:25.
Carruth fought hard to preserve the one-goal lead midway through the second, coming up with a series of dazzling stops that culminated with a windmill glove save on a bid from Erik Karlsson.
Ryan appeared to have pulled the Checkers even at the 13-minute mark of the middle period when he backhanded a shot on an empty net while stationed just feet from the net. Carruth sprawled backwards, though, and swept the puck off the line with his blocker to maintain the 1-0 lead.
Ryan struck to tie the game with 51.2 seconds left in the second period. Charlotte countered a Rockford attack with a 3-on-2 as the period entered its final minute, and Sergey Tolchinsky pulled off a toe-drag before ripping a shot at Carruth. The Checkers leading scorer found the rebound and poked it to the back of the cage for his 21st goal of the season.
The third period went scoreless, forcing an extra five minutes of overtime hockey. Each team had a chance to claim victory, with McNeill nearly striking first. His shot halfway through the overtime hit the glove of Muse before flipping straight up in the air and dropping into the goaltender’s pads.
In the closing seconds of the extra frame, Jake Chelios hit the post behind Carruth, and the rebound ricocheted of the back of the Hogs goalie before trickling wide.
Next Home Game: Friday, Apr. 1 vs. San Antonio Rampage at 7 p.m. Doors will open at 5:15 p.m. for a Blues Flame Lounge Friday. Fans 21-and-older are invited to enjoy live blues music, a happy hour special, and free appetizers at the Blue Flame Lounge on the main concourse.