Rockford, Ill.- Two of the hottest teams in the American Hockey League clashed Friday night at the Rockford MetroCentre, but a three-goal second period from the Rockford IceHogs was too much for the Lake Erie Monsters to handle as the Hogs won 4-2.
Lake Erie came into Rockford with a franchise record eight-game road winning streak, but Rockford has had Lake Erie’s number all season as the IceHogs improved to 4-1-1-0 against the Monsters in 2010-11. Rockford also has ended Lake Erie's franchise record eight-game home winning streak (Mar. 5) and frachise best eight-game winning streak (Mar. 30) this season.
The IceHogs took the early 1-0 lead in the first period. Jeff Taffe skated the puck into the Monsters zone and dropped it back to Rob Klinkhammer. Klinkhammer fired a shot past John Grahame at 13:45. Brian Connelly factored in with an assist.
With 10 seconds left in the first period, Lake Erie tied the game. Ben Walter dished the puck to Julian Talbot just hopping out of the penalty box. Talbot made a nifty move and flipped the puck over Hannu Toivonen on a breakaway to make it 1-1.
Rockford regained the lead to start the second period. Klinkhammer sent the puck to Brandon Pirri who left everyone behind him and backhanded it past Grahame to give the Hogs the 2-1 lead at 1:08.
The IceHogs kept the scoring going midway through the middle frame. Peter LeBlanc fired a puck from the slot that beat Grahame glove-side to put the Hogs up 3-1 at 7:43. Mathis Olimb and Shawn Lalonde assisted on the play.
Then, with Rockford on the two-man advantage late in the second period, Brian Connelly fired a slapper from the blue line that beat Grahame top shelf to give the Hogs a 4-1 lead at 18:25. Pirri and Taffe factored in with the helpers. The assist was Taffe's second of the night for his team-leading 13th multi-point game of the season.
In the third period, Lake Erie cut the lead to two at 4:41 in the final stanza. Matthew Ford had a step on an IceHogs defender and chipped in the frozen disk to make it 4-2. Maury Edwards and Steve Oleksy had the helpers.
Toivonen turned away 26 of 28 Monsters shots picking up his team leading 20th win on the campaign. Meanwhile Grahame stopped 31 of 35 IceHogs shots.
Rockford had seven man advantages tonight, but only converted on one attempt. Lake Erie went 0-for-4 on their power play chances.
Next Home Game: Saturday, April 9 vs. Grand Rapids Griffins. Puck drop is at 7:05 p.m. In the final home game of the season, the IceHogs battle the Grand Rapids Griffins at the MetroCentre. The contest is the sixth and final meeting between the two clubs. Rockford shows a record of 3-2-0-0 against Grand Rapids in ‘10-11.