Rockford, Ill. – A night after getting shutout, the Rockford IceHogs offense was rejuvenated by forward Garret Ross on Sunday but his hat trick wasn’t enough as the IceHogs fell short in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Lake Erie Monsters.
Ross wasted little time helping Rockford get back on track and gain an early advantage with two goals in the game’s opening 7:46. The first came 4:59 into the opening frame to give the IceHogs an early 1-0 lead. Ross jammed home a loose puck behind Calvin Pickard after Ville Pokka showed patience as he moved around a Monsters defender below the goal line to set up Ross.
Later in the first period Ross extended the IceHogs lead to 2-0 after receiving a pass from T.J. Brennan between the circles. Ross picked up the pass and backhanded it to the back of the net.
The two goal lead did not last long for the IceHogs as Lake Erie responded with a pair of tallies courtesy of Paul Carey before the end of the first 20 minutes. Carey’s first marker came from one-time shot from the corner to beat Michael Leighton with 7:51 left in the period.
Then, just as the Hogs were gaining some momentum in the offensive zone late in the first period, Colin Smith gained control of the rubber and raced to the Rockford end. While on a 2-on-1 odd man rush with Carey, Smith’s pass connected with Carey and he slipped the puck into the cage to tie the contest at two goals a piece with 2:38 remaining in the first stanza.
Ross capped off the scoring for Rockford with his third goal of contest during the second period and helped the Hogs regain a 3-2 the lead. Teuvo Teravainen set up Ross as he skated with the puck into the offensive zone, drawing the attention of the Monsters defense, and used backhand pass that Ross ripped past Pickard.
Lake Erie erased the Rockford lead again prior to the end of the period. Maxim Noreau poked home a rebound behind Leighton to bring the score to 3-3 with 17.8 seconds remaining in the sandwich stanza.
While the first two periods of play had plenty of excitement the final 20 minutes of the tilt was quite the opposite as the two teams clamped down defensively to force an overtime session.
With both squads skating three skaters aside in the extra session, Lake Erie’s Joey Hishon scored the game winning marker 4:22 into the overtime period to give the visitors their first win in three tries over the IceHogs this season.
The hat trick for Ross is his second of the season as he now matched a feat, notching two hat tricks in one season, that has been done twice in the club’s AHL era. Forward Pascal Pelletier did it twice during the 2008-09 campaign with seven goals combined between Nov. 26, 2008 and Jan. 3, 2009.
Leighton turned aside 22 shots but took the loss as his record now stands at 6-4-2 while Pickard made 23 saves to improve his record to 6-4-3.
Next Home Game: Friday, Dec. 26 vs. Iowa Wild. Puck drops at 7 p.m. The IceHogs return home from a six-game swing on the road to take on the Wild at the BMO. Fans 21-and-over can come out early to for another Blues Flame Lounge Pre-Game Party, where they can enjoy free appetizers, live music and drink specials. Doors open at 5:15 p.m.