Mathew Highmore got the Rockford IceHogs on the board first in their 20th anniversary season opener against the Cleveland Monsters Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena, but Cleveland responded with four consecutive goals and the IceHogs ultimately fell 4-1 to their former division rivals.
Former IceHogs goaltender, Jean-Francois Berube stymied the Rockford offense with 24 saves despite the Hogs winning the shooting battle 25-21.
Highmore started the scoring for the IceHogs with 2:53 remaining in the first period on a tap-in from a nifty passing play between Highmore, Luc Snuggerud and Victor Ejdsell. The second-year pro picked up where he left off after leading Rockford in goals last season.
Cleveland forward Eric Robinson evened the score just 1:58 into the second period, cashing in on a centering feed from forward Zac Dalpe.
Heading into the third period with the game tied 1-1, the Monsters seized control with a three-goal-outburst.
Monsters forward Kevin Stenlund broke the tie at the 3:26 mark of the stanza on a shot from the slot assisted by Nathan Gerbe. Forward Vitaly Abramov bolstered the Cleveland lead after a give-and-go play between Abramov and defenseman Michael Prapavess, then Justin Scott sealed the deal with a full-ice empty net goal.
The IceHogs will look to get back on track on the second leg of the back-to-back against Cleveland on Saturday at Quicken Loans arena.
NEXT HOME GAME: Saturday, Oct. 13 vs. Texas Stars | 6 p.m.
The Rockford IceHogs will host their home opener for the 2018-19 season on Saturday, Oct. 13 against the Texas Stars at 6 p.m. at the BMO Harris Bank Center. The first 4,000 fans in attendance to Rockford’s first home game of the campaign will receive a free IceHogs calendar, courtesy of Impact Networking. Call the IceHogs front office at (815) 968-5222 or visit icehogs.com to purchase tickets.