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Photo by Reese Strickland
01/22/2015 7:00 PM -

IceHogs break through in third period for 1-0 victory over Iowa

Des Moines, Iowa – It took over 53 minutes, and a whole lot of patience, but the Rockford IceHogs found a way to score a goal in a game that seemed destined to head past regulation without one. Matt Carey found the game's only tally late in the third period, and Michael Leighton stopped 23 shots to lift the IceHogs (24-13-4-2) to a 1-0 triumph over the Iowa Wild (15-24-1-1) on Thursday night at Wells Fargo Arena.

After Leighton and his counterpart John Curry were unflappable through two and a half periods of play, it was a delay of game call by Iowa's Danny Syvret that opened the door for the game's first goal. It only took Rockford 17 seconds to make their third power play of the night count, when Carey caught Curry off guard with a quick snap shot from the high slot. T.J. Brennan and Garret Ross added assists to Carey's seventh goal of the season coming at the 13:16 mark of the third period.

The late goal was all the cushion necessary for Leighton, who grabbed his fourth shutout of the season and the 40th of his AHL career. The veteran netminder took one step closer to league history, as he now sits only one shutout shy of tying Gil Mayer (1949-63) for second place on the AHL's all-time shutout list. 

While it was Leighton who left the ice with a victory, few could argue who was the busier goaltender Thursday night. Curry nearly stole another game from the IceHogs, stopping 41 shots in a game where Rockford held a relentless 42-23 edge in shots on goal. The Wild netminder has given the IceHogs plenty of fits over the last couple of months, stopping 125 of 131 shots faced in his last four appearances against Rockford, a .954 save percentage. 

All but three IceHogs registered at least one shot on net on Thursday, as they raced out to a suffocating 16-3 shot advantage after one period, and a 29-13 edge after two. Rockford had Iowa pinned in their zone for most of the night, but to no avail thanks to Curry's steady play. 

While Curry saw the higher quantity of shots, two of the most impressive saves of the night belonged to Leighton. The IceHogs netminder made a sprawling leg save on the post on a delayed call in the second period and then another one to deny Jordan Schroeder on a 2-on-0 break in the third. 

The win was the second straight shutout victory for the IceHogs over the Wild, after blanking them 4-0 at the BMO Harris Bank Center last Friday night. Only one more meeting remains on the schedule between the two clubs, an April 9 contest back at Wells Fargo Arena. 

Rockford continued their recent upswing, and now has now won three out of their last four and claimed points in seven of their last nine. Thursday's win brought the IceHogs to a tie for second place in the Western Conference with the Utica Comets, a team they welcome into their building Saturday night. 

Next Home Game: Saturday, January 24 vs. Utica Comets. Puck drops at 7 p.m. Two of the West's best collide when the IceHogs host the Comets for the sixth-annual Pink In The Rink night presented by Swedish American Hospital. The IceHogs will skate on pink ice wearing special pink jerseys which will be auctioned off throughout the night with proceeds benefitting the Mary Kay and Swedish American Foundations. Additionally the first 2,500 fans will receive a set of pink foam LED glow sticks.