Four third period goals keeps Hogs hopes alive
Rockford, Ill.- Down 3-1 entering the third period against the Western Conference Champion Texas Stars and with a possible playoff berth on the line, the Rockford IceHogs pulled off a stunning 5-3 victory at Cedar Park Center to help Kent Simpson earn his first AHL win.
The win, Rockford's 42nd on the season, marked their AHL best 11th third period come-from-behind victory on the campaign and kept them tied with the Milwaukee Admirals for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
In order to get into the Calder Cup Playoffs, Rockford needs the Peoria Rivermen to knock off Milwaukee in Peoria on Sunday afternoon at 5:05 p.m.
Down 3-1 entering the third period, Rockford tied the contest with two goals in 43-seconds. Martin St. Pierre picked up a Christopher Nilstorp rebound in the slot and tucked his 26th goal of the season under the crossbar and in at 7:50.
The game was then tied at 8:33 of the final frame on a nice passing sequence. Standing back door. Brandon Svendsen picked up a cross-ice pass from Adam Clendening and beat Nilstorp in the open net for his sixth tally.
Ben Smith continued his goal scoring binge as he bagged the eventual game winner at 11:28. Brandon Pirri found Smith on the circle and the winger found the back of the net to give Rockford their first lead of the game. Smith added insurance off of another Pirri feed at 17:35 for his 27th goal to push the Hogs advantage to 5-3.
Pirri leads the AHL with 75 points, four more than Hershey's Jeff Taffe, who concludes his season on Sunday.
The game also marked the fourth time in four head-to-head meetings between Rockford and Texas that the road team battled back from a three-goal deficit to claim the win.
For the second time in nine days, Rockford eclipsed 50 shots as they fired 54 of them on Christopher Nilstorp. The two teams combined for an IceHogs single-game record 101 shots on goal and Simpson stopped all 32 of the ones he faced in relief of Henrik Karlsson.
Texas struck first on Saturday on a goal scored from just inside the center ice line. Radek Faksa won a neutral zone faceoff back to Kevin Connauton and the d-man's dump in deflected off of Karlsson's stick and in at 10:57 for his ninth goal of the season.
Two quick strike goals early in the second period chased Karlsson from the game. Just 22-seconds into the middle frame, Scott Glennie followed a Justin Dowling rebound and beat Karlsson for his fifth goal on the season. Then at 1:04, Luke Gazdic beat Karlsson five hole for his fourth tally on the campaign, making it 3-0.
Rockford got on the board at 8:41 of the second period to make it a 3-1 game. Defenseman Adam Clendening picked off a Stars clear-out attempt and beat a screened Christopher Nilstorp over the shoulder for his for his ninth goal of the year.
Playoff Tickets On Sale: IceHogs Fans can take advantage of buy-one get-one free playoff tickets. The deal is good through Thursday and if the IceHogs qualify for the Calder Cup Playoffs, they would host Game 1 (Friday, April 26) and Game 2 (Saturday, April 27) of the quarterfinal round at the BMO Harris Bank Center. For tickets, visit IceHogs.com, call (815) 494-8968 or at the BMO Harris Bank Center Box Office and any Ticketmaster outlet.