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Hogs even season series with win

Rockford, Ill.- Mark Cullen tied the game with 4:39 left and then Jack Skille hammered home the game winning goal overtime in the Rockford IceHogs' 5-4 win over the Houston Aeros on Thursday at the Rockford MetroCentre.

Rockford's pair of all-star forwards Skille and Cullen showed why they were given the honor on Thursday with a combined five points in a come-from-behind win on New Year's Eve.

After a scoreless first period, Matt Keith knocked down a pass deep in Houston territory early in the second and dished to Rob Klinkhammer, who put a shot on goal.  Adam Hobson picked up the rebound and put it in at 2:37 to put the Hogs up 1-0.

Then Jon DiSalvatore put home a rebound in front of Joe Fallon to even the score at one at 9:16, but the Hogs took the advantage back thanks to a tip-in from Jake Dowell at 12:14 on a Richard Petiot shot.  Danny Bois also got an assist.

DiSalvatore got his second goal of the game on a power play at 13:35 to tie the score at two with helpers from Andy Hilbert and Jean-Michel Daoust.  And then Chad Rau tippied in a Maxim Noreau drive at 15:36 to put Houston up 3-2.

Nathan Smith added another goal, slipping it under Fallon at 8:40 in the third frame to put the Aeros up even further.

Mike Brennan got it back to one at 10:00 in the third for Rockford.  The assists came from Bracken Kearns and Skille. The goal was Brennan's first professional tally after 98 professional games.

"We got a good goal from Mike Brennan there and that gave us some momentum," Skille said. "We all knew his first goal was going to be a big goal for the team and he came up huge tonight."

Cullen tied the game at 15:21 with the IceHogs on a 5-on-3 power play.  Cullen pounded in his team-leading 13th goal of the season from the deep slot.  Skille and Pete MacArthur registered assists on the play. 

"There is a reason why he's an all-star," said Skille of his teammate.

In overtime it was Skille's turn to prove why he deserves a trip to Portland in January. The winger slapped in a shot from the far circle to give the IceHogs a 5-4 win at 1:13 in overtime on the power play.

Rockford's two power play goals came on nine opportunities, while Houston was perfect in their two man advantage chances.  Fallon stopped 14 of 18 shots in the overtime win, while Khudobin had 29 saves in the game.

Next home game: Saturday, Jan. 2 vs. Grand Rapids Griffins. Game time is 7:05 p.m. Cure your holiday hangover with the IceHogs as they open up the 2010 portion of the regular season. The game is one in a series of the “Go Green” initiative by the IceHogs, who will be giving away “Go Green” T-shirts made out of environmentally friendly material sponsored by BOB FM and WTVO.

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