ROCKFORD, Ill. – Joel L’Esperance scored the third of three third-period goals for the Texas Stars and goaltender Landon Bow fended off a barrage of late shots to lead the Stars to a 4-3 come-from-behind win over the Rockford IceHogs on Saturday night at the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park. The defeat snapped Rockford's six-game winning streak and nine-game road point streak (7-0-1-1).
Despite the loss, the IceHogs’ magic number to clinch a berth in the Calder Cup playoffs dropped to just one following the Chicago Wolves’ win over the Milwaukee Admirals tonight.
Travis Morin led an odd-man rush on goaltender Matt Tomkins and dished the puck to L’Esperance, who one-timed the well-placed pass over the stick of Tomkins for the game-winning goal with just 2:54 remaining in regulation. The tally completed Texas’ thee-goal comeback in the final period, following up a power-play marker from Roope Hintz at 13:47 in the frame and Brian Flynn’s opening strike of the stanza at 2:40.
Rockford appeared poised to cruise into the playoff with a seventh consecutive victory after building a 3-1 lead heading into the final period. Tyler Sikura tied the game early with his first goal of the night when he wristed a shot past Bow with time winding down in the first period, and later put the IceHogs ahead 2-1 with a snipe just five minutes into the second frame.
With his two goals tonight, Sikura has points in 10 of the last 11 games and 13 total points (6g, 7a) in that span.
Alexandre Fortin then extended Rockford’s lead to two goals when he collected a rebound in front of Bow and snuck a shot past his outstretched glove for the forward’s fourth tally of the season.
Bow stopped 22 of 25 pucks to earn the win, including turnign away nine shots in the third period. His counterpart, Tomkins, made 30 saves in the IceHogs’ defeat.
Next Home Game: Friday, April 13 vs. Chicago
The IceHogs host their final home game of the 2017-18 regular season with an Illinois Lottery Cup series matchup against the Chicago Wolves. Friday is Fan Appreciation Night and the first 2,500 fans in attendance will receive a free copy of this season’s team photo, courtesy of American Solutions for Business.