Rosemont, Ill. - Coming off of a thrilling 3-2 overtime contest the previous night against the Chicago Wolves (22-17-5-1), the Rockford IceHogs (26-14-4-2) traveled to the Allstate Arena to complete their home-and-home series against their divisional rivals, but fell by a final score of 4-1.
Trailing 2-1 at the beginning of the final frame of regulation, the IceHogs came out with hopes of tying the contest and possibly clinching their second Illinois Lottery Cup in three seasons, but the home squad had other ideas.
A hooking call against Wolves forward Magnus Paajarvi early in the final frame put the IceHogs on their third man-advantage of the night, however, Chicago netminder Jordan Binnington stingy goaltending seized any momentum gained by the Hogs.
Moments after his infraction and out of the sin bin, Paajarvi fired a shot from the left faceoff circle and past Rockford goaltender Scott Darling to extend Chicago's lead to 3-1.
In an effort to bring the game within a goal, Rockford Head Coach Ted Dent pulled Darling to give the IceHogs an extra skater, but Wolves center Pat Cannone picked up a loose puck near center ice and capped the scoring off with 60 seconds remaining in the contest.
The contest began much like last night’s contest between the two foes with the home team netting the game’s first goal of the contest. Paajarvi opened the scoring on the Wolves first shot of the contest when he received a pass just inside the Hogs blueline from McRae and. The shot beat Darling over the right shoulder just 3:46 into the contest. Adam Burish picked up the secondary helper on the goal.
About a quarter of the way through the second stanza, the Hogs penalty kill unit was able to clear off an infraction, but the Wolves took the momentum when Cannone picked up a loose puck in his own zone and made an outlet pass to forward Terry Broadhurst in transition. Broadhurst found Shane Harper who blistered a shot from from the slot through traffic and past Darling to give the Wolves a 2-0 advantage.
The Hogs lone marker on the night came from forward Drew LeBlanc when he cut the Wolves lead in half with 3:46 remaining in the second period, making the score 2-1. The unassisted tally was LeBlanc’s fourth of the season.
Darling made 23 saves in the loss and now shows a record of 11-7-2-0 on the campaign, while Binnginton stopped 31 of 32 shots he faced, improves his record to 13-8-3-1.
Next Home Game: Saturday Feb. 7 vs. Milwaukee Admirals. Puck drops at 7 p.m. The IceHogs pay homage to their all-time leading scorer when they return to the BMO for Jeremy Morin Bobblehead Night against the Admirals. The first 2,500 fans will receive a bobblehead of the former IceHog, courtesy of Dental Dimensions.