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By: Nate Haeni
Hogs improve to 4-2-0-0 against Houston in 2009-10

Rockford, Ill.-  The Rockford IceHogs came out swinging, putting up two goals in the first minute of the game against the Houston Aeros on Friday at the Rockford MetroCentre.  The IceHogs posted a 5-1 win enroute to a three-game sweep of the Aeros over six days.

"I think that game on Sunday was huge for us," said center Bracken Kearns. "You don't want to go on a trip like that and lose all three.  That win gave us some confidence going into this week.  We've been pretty focused after Christmas and hopefully we can keep this going."

The Hogs jumped to an early lead thanks to two goals in the first minute of play.

Mark Cullen tipped in a Pete MacArthur pass on a breakaway at :24 to give the IceHogs an early lead.  Matt Keith also added an assist.

Then Jack Skille drove Wade Dubielewicz from the game at :51 with a wrister from the deep slot.
  Brian Connelly and Kyle Greentree assisted on the Skille goal.

It's the fastest the IceHogs have gone up 2-0 in the IceHogs AHL era.

Then it was Greentree's turn at 15:43.  The winger took a pass from Bracken Kearns from behind the net and shook the cage to put the Hogs up 3-0. All three IceHogs' goal scorers posted their 14th goal goal of the season.

The IceHogs posted a goal in their only shot of the second period.  Richard Petiot found the back of the Houston net on the power play with a wrap-around poke at 13:52 to make it 4-0. Cullen and Simon Danis-Pepin registered the assists.

In the third, Jamie Fraser scored his second of the season and second against the IceHogs in 2009-10 at 10:57 to break up Corey Crawford's shutout bid on a blast from the top of the far circle.  J. P. Testwuide and Trent Campbell had the helpers.

"It's a tough thing once you gain that lead to keep pressing," said Kearns. "Teams tend to stay back a bit and become concerned about defense.  I think our team is getting there and getting better.  Like Bill Peters said, we're a good team, but we have a chance at getting better."

But the IceHogs took it back at 19:44 when Akim Aliu planted an unassisted goal into the empty net.

"I didn't think we played that great, but Crawford was outstanding," Kearns said. "He made some great saves for us.  We're finding ways to win in games that we might have lost in the beginning of the year."

Rockford finished 1-for-4 on the power play and kept the Aeros scoreless on five attempts.  Crawford was stellar in net, posting several highlight-reel saves and stopping 34 shots in his third straight win, all agains Houston.  Dubielewicz took a loss with one stop in :51, while Anton Khudobin had 14 saves in 57:04.

Next Home Game: Saturday, Jan. 23 vs. Grand Rapids Griffins. Game time is 7:05 p.m. The IceHogs welcome the Griffins back to the MetroCentre for the second time this season. The first 2,500 fans into the building will receive an IceHogs fleece blanket courtesy of Lonnie’s Carpet Max. Fans are also encouraged to bring their skates to skate with the Hogs after the game.

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