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Kero strikes twice for Rockford

Cleveland, Ohio – Tanner Kero put home two goals for Rockford to stretch his team-leading count to 16, but the Rockford IceHogs (30-14-5-4) fell to the Lake Erie Monsters (29-17-5-4) by a 5-4 final score on Friday night.

Rockford trailed 5-3 going into the third period before Kero brought the IceHogs back to within a goal. P.C. Labrie moved a pass to Kero, who directed a backhander into the net for a power-play tally. The goal opened up a series of offensive chances for the Hogs, but Monsters goaltender Brad Thiessen held strong to secure the victory.

Penalties marked the opening frame, as the two teams combined for six power play chances in the first period. After Bryan Bickell rang a shot off the goalpost early in the period, Lake Erie took advantage of a five-on-three opportunity. Alex Broadhurst snuck behind the Rockford defense and took a pass from John Ramage to put home the one-timer and give the Monsters a 1-0 lead at 10:56.

Manny Malhotra extended the advantage when he stole a puck in the neutral zone and raced in on a shorthanded breakaway. The shot from Malhotra just slid under the leg pad of IceHogs goaltender Michael Leighton and into the net at 12:40 of the frame.

Rockford answered back with a four-on-four goal in the final five minutes of the first. After Jonathan Carlsson forced a loose puck at center ice, Vince Hinostroza skated up the left wing and fired a wrister past Thiessen to cut the lead to 2-1 going into the second period. Hinostroza upped his point output to five (3g-2a) over his past three contests.

Lake Erie wasted no time building their lead in the middle stanza. Just 25 seconds into the period, Josh Anderson was able to deflect a bouncing puck under the crossbar, and 36 seconds after that Oliver Bjorkstrand knocked home his 12th of the season to push the Monsters lead to 4-1. Mac Carruth took over for Michael Leighton following the goal.

The IceHogs refused to surrender however, and Kero helped start a comeback surge for Rockford. Right after a penalty was killed off by the Hogs, Kero recovered the puck at center ice and raced into the attacking zone, before picking the top corner with a wrist shot from right between the faceoff circles. The goal cut the lead to 4-2 at 3:45 of the second frame.

Ryan Hartman brought the IceHogs back to within a goal less than five minutes later. With the IceHogs shorthanded, Hartman stole the puck, skated into the offensive end, and ripped a slap shot into the top corner of the net to trim the Lake Erie lead to 4-3.

With 1:06 to go in the second, the Monsters once again opened up a two-goal advantage. After a turnover in the defensive zone, Vogelhuber threw a loose puck in front of Carruth and Lukas Sedlak finished off the opportunity with a quick tap-in tally to give the Monsters a 5-3 lead heading into the third.

Rockford finished the game 1-for-5 on the power play, while the Monsters went 1-for-8.

Next Home Game: Tickets for Saturday, March 5 vs. Lake Erie Monsters at 7 p.m are SOLD OUT. Tickets still remain for the game on March 6 versus the Monsters at 4 p.m. March 6 is Autism Awareness Ngiht and after the game, the team will host a “Skate with the Hogs” event where fans will be welcome to skate on the ice with their favorite IceHogs players.