Photo by Jim Orlando
Hogs can’t finish off comeback in Quad City
Moline, Ill.- Slow starts will ruin just about any hockey game. Arguably the Rockford IceHogs worst period of hockey of the season occurred in the first frame on Sunday in Moline against the Quad City Flames, and it ruined Rockford’s three goals in the final two periods.
The Flames used four first period markers and outlasted the IceHogs 4-3 at the i-wireless Center. The loss stretched Rockford’s winless stretch to a season low four straight games (0-4-1-0).
Quad City struck twice early in the opening period to grab a 2-0 advantage. Cam Cunning bounced his own rebound past Hogs starting goalie Corey Crawford 19 seconds into the opening period on a 2-on-1 breakaway. Tomi Maki set up the goal.
Flames center Brandon Prust made the score 2-0 when he deeked out Crawford on a breakaway after picking up a long pass from Krys Kolanos at 2:55. The goal chased Crawford from the game as he was replaced by Wade Flaherty. Prust has nine goals on the season and three of them against Rockford.
Flaherty didn’t fare much better as Quad City tacked on two more goals before the break. David Van der Gulik pushed the score to 3-0 when he converted a Flaherty turnover into a shorthanded goal at 13:54.
Derek Couture would conclude the first period barrage when he flipped a rebound past Flaherty for his sixth goal of the season at 19:23. To add injury to insult, the IceHogs lost leading goal scorer Troy Brouwer in the first period with an injury.
Center Kris Versteeg put Rockford on the board in the second period to stop the bleeding. While on a power play, Versteeg shelved his 11th goal of the campaign over the shoulder of Curtis McElhinney at 5:04. Derek Nesbitt and Danny Richmond had the assists.
Rockford then cut the lead in half with another power-play tally. Rookie defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson blasted his third goal of the season over McElhinney at 14:59 to make the score 4-2 heading into the third period. Colin Fraser and Bryan Bickell assisted on the marker.
In the third frame Rockford outshot the Flames and closed the gap to 4-3 with another Versteeg goal. The Hogs centermen dangled three Quad City back-checkers and snuck his 12th goal of the season past McElhinney at 13:57.
That’s as close as the IceHogs could get as McElhinney slammed the door on Rockford the rest of the way including on a 6-on-4 advantage to end the game. The Hogs were outshot 31-27 in the contest and Flaherty was tagged with the loss after making 25 saves.
Next Home Game: Friday, Feb. 15 vs. Quad City Flames. The IceHogs and Flames meet up for the second time in less than a week. The first 1,500 girls to the game on Friday will pick up a pink IceHogs T-shirt in spirit of Valentine's Day courtesy of Rock River Valley Blood Bank, Midwest Stitch, Hulsebus Chiropractic, Guerilla Graffix, General Mills and B103. The game is the third at the MetroCentre between the West Division foes and the first 500 kids to the contest 12 and under will pick up a Walking With Dinosaurs lapel pin courtesy of the IceHogs and Centre Events.