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PIRRI'S HAT TRICK LEADS HOGS TO 6-3 ROUTE AT HOME

Photo by Greg Hamil
11/23/2011 7:05 PM - Rockford, Ill.-  Rockford IceHogs center Brandon Pirri clearly had enough losing on home ice as he potted three goals to help lead the IceHogs to a 6-3 win over the San Antonio Rampage on Wednesday night at the BMO Harris Bank Center.

Entering the game, the Hogs were stuck in a six-game home losing streak dating back to Oct. 22. But three third-period tallies, including two by Pirri, helped lift Rockford to their first home victory since Oct. 8.

The IceHogs held a 3-2 lead in the final frame, but San Antonio came on strong at the start of the period. Former IceHogs centerman Bracken Kearns started the play in the Rockford zone with a pass to Colby Robak, who fired a shot on the IceHogs net that was blocked down by Alexander Salak. Greg Rallo, however, found the loose puck sitting in front of Salak and capitalized with a goal to tie the game 3-3 just 4:40 into the third period.

Then, just over a minute later, Pirri found the back of the net to regain the lead for the IceHogs.  The goal was Pirri’s second of the night and started a scoring frenzy that resulted in three unanswered goals for the IceHogs.

Rostislav Olesz, who has a goal and an assist in each of his three games with Rockford this season, extended the IceHogs lead to 5-3 on a 5-on-3 power play at the 13:39 mark in the final frame. Olesz picked up a Brian Connelly shot that deflected into the neutral zone, raced across the Rampage zone while he danced around two Rampage defenders, and shelved his third goal of the season past Brian Foster.

The assist was Connelly’s fourth of the night, setting a new IceHogs AHL single game record for assists in a game.

With Rockford back on the two-man advantage moments later, Pirri sealed the game with his third goal of the night and eighth goal of the season at 14:41 of the final frame to push the score to 6-3. Joe Lavin and Andrew Shaw set up the play.

Rockford got on the board early in the game with Pirri’s first tally at 4:12 of the first period. Just after an IceHogs power play expired, Lavin made a pass inside the Rampage zone to Olesz, who fired a shot on net that bounced up and above the Rampage goaltender. Foster could not locate the puck, and Pirri was waiting on the right side of the net and tapped the puck in to give the IceHogs a 1-0 lead.

As the opening period was winding down, Rockford took advantage of another power-play opportunity to make it 2-0. Brett McLean ripped a slapshot from the left point and Brandon Segal, who was stationed in front of the net providing a screen against Foster, got a piece of the puck and redirected it into the back of the net for his team-leading eighth goal on the campaign at 16:42.

The IceHogs increased their lead at 4:46 of the middle frame. With heavy traffic in front of the San Antonio net, David Gilbert found the loose puck and slapped the puck past Foster for his first goal of the season. Brandon Bollig and Connelly earned assists on the play to put Rockford up 3-0.

San Antonio started their scoring spree less than two minutes later when Evan Barlow found himself all alone in front of Salak. Barlow blew his first goal of the season past the IceHogs netminder from the point to make it 3-1 at 6:21 of the second period.

Then, at the 14:43 mark, David Marshall cut the IceHogs lead down to one on San Antonio’s first power play of the night. Marshall flipped in a rebound from a Barlow shot to put the score at 3-2.

The IceHogs finished three for eight on the power play, while San Antonio converted on one of their two opportunities.

Salak made 20 saves on 23 shots faced to pick up the win, while Foster turned away 34 of the 40 IceHogs shots on goal.

Next Home Game:
Friday, Nov. 25 vs. Peoria: The Rockford IceHogs host the Peoria Rivermen for the sixth of twelve meetings on the 2011-12 campaign. It is also another Illinois Lottery Cup tilt. Game time is 7:05 p.m. Friday is Country Night at the BMO Harris Bank Center, sponsored by Rockford’s Country Q98.5. The PennyMaeDixon Band will perform live before the game and during both intermissions.

For every goal that the Rockford IceHogs score in 2011-12, IceHogs head coach Ted Dent will make a donation to children’s cancer research. BMO Harris Bank will also make a donation for every goal to the “BMO Harris Bank Goals For Grades”