Rosemont, Ill.- A strong finish to the 2010-11 season turned dramatic on Sunday afternoon for the Rockford IceHogs as the battled back from two three-goal deficits to knock off the Chicago Wolves 5-4 in overtime at the Allstate Arena.
The IceHogs completed the season with a five-game winning streak and won 10 of their final 11 games on the campaign. Despite missing out on the postseason for the first time in six seasons, Rockford finished with a record of 38-33-4-5.
Down 4-1 moments after a short-handed goal by the Wolves, rookie winger David Gilbert would begin the comeback and reduce the Rockford deficit back down to a pair. The rookie center banked a shot off of Wolves defenseman Arturs Kulda and in past Edward Pasquale on the power play at 3:19 of the third to make it 4-2. Joe Lavin recorded his first career assist on the goal.
Rob Klinkhammer made it a one-goal game with a breakaway tally. The fourth-year winger blocked a dump in attempt by the Wolves Jamie Siefers and backhanded his 17th goal of the campaign past Pasquale at 13:49.
With timing winding down in the third period, Rockford pulled Hannu Toivonen for the extra attacker and tied the game with just 39-seconds left in regulation. Brandon Pirri’s pass found Mathis Olimb and the winger buried his tenth goal of the season past Pasquale to tie the game at 4-4.
Then in overtime Jeff Taffe would end the contest with his 30th goal of the season. Ryan Stanton found Rob Klinkhammer in the neutral zone and the winger dropped the puck to Taffe who cut across the Wolves zone and he fired the game winner off the inside of the post and past Pasquale at 3:33 of the overtime frame.
Chicago controlled the tempo early-on on Sunday and capitalized on an IceHogs turnover. Sergio Somma picked off a Philippe Paradis pass and fed Riley Holzapfel who backhanded his 12th goal of season past a sprawled out Toivonen at 10:13 of the opening frame.
Later in the period Rockford staved off a five-minute power play by the Wolves after Kyle Hagel was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct for a check to the head of Chicago’s Tim Miller. Hagel finished the season with 245 penalties including a franchise record 32 majors.
In the second period, however, the Wolves would convert on a power play to make it 2-0. Mark Matheson blasted a shot through traffic and under Toivonen for his ninth goal of the season at 4:45. Then at 9:41, Chicago made it 3-0 after Rockford’s transition rush resulted in a two-on-one back into their own zone.
Jason Krog picked up a loose puck and found Frederick Pettersson on the right wing and the rookie winger wristed home his 11th goal of the season at 9:41 of the second period, increasing Chicago lead to 3-0.
Gilbert would put Rockford on the board and reduce the IceHogs deficit to two before the second intermission. Taffe found Gilbert streaking to the net on a rush and the rookie center redirected his first professional goal past Pasquale at 18:58 of the middle frame.
With Rockford trying to get back into the game with a power play early in the third period, it was the Wolves who would notch a marker short handed. Miller followed a Darren Haydar rebound and beat Toivonen under the right arm for his 11th goal of the season at 1:33.
Toivonen made 37 saves to earn his 21st win of the season while Pasquale turned away 33 Rockford shots in the overtime loss.
Season Tickets On Sale For 2011-12: It'll be a long summer without IceHogs hockey and season ticket packages for the 2011-12 season are now on sale. To find a ticket package that quenches your hockey thirst, call (815) 847-6399.