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DANAULT SPARKS LATE RALLY AS HOGS SWEEP STARS

Photo by Christina Shapiro
02/28/2015 8:00 PM

Article By: Brent Hollerud

Rockford scores four in the final period to secure weekend sweep in Texas 
 
Cedar Park, Texas - The Rockford IceHogs may have put themselves in a hole after surrendering three second-period goals, but they sure found a way out of it. The visiting IceHogs (32-18-4-2) scored four times in the final period - including three from Phillip Danault - en route to a come-from-behind 6-3 win over the Texas Stars (25-18-12-1) Saturday night at Cedar Park Center, completing the weekend sweep.

After Garret Ross erased a 3-2 Texas lead near the midway point of the third, Danault lit the lamp three times over a 5:54 span late in the period to bust open what was a tight game for the first 50-plus minutes. The second-year forward put a bow on his outburst, adding a late empty net goal to make it 6-3, completing his first-career professional hat trick, scored in natural fashion. 

It was a third period dominated by an IceHogs sophomore class, as Danault, Ross and Mark McNeill combined for four goals and three assists in the final 11:10 of regulation time. Ross duplicated his one-goal, one-assist performance from the night before, and McNeill notched his second-straight three-point outing. The trio ran rampant on the Stars this weekend, contributing a staggering 13 points (7g-6a) over the two IceHogs wins. 

The late-game heroics were necessitated when Texas staged a serious push in the middle frame, erasing two Rockford deficits before taking their first lead of the weekend just before the second intermission. The three-goal period by the Stars gave them the edge in a frantic second that began scoreless.

While goals by McNeill and Peter Regin gave the IceHogs 1-0 and 2-1 leads respectively, Texas found quick answers with markers from Justin Dowling and Kevin Henderson- showing a resiliency that mirrored their performance on Friday night. Where the similarities stopped was when Travis Morin gave the home team the lead late in the period, beating IceHogs goaltender Antti Raanta on a one-timer from in tight at 17:13. 

Down 3-2 in the mid-stages of the third period, and down a man to a minor penalty, Rockford found an opportunity when Greg Rallo and Cameron Gaunce both found the box in short succession. A persistent IceHogs group on the ensuing 5-on-3 power play led to Ross' equalizer. Following through on a rebound, Ross beat Jack Campbell to grab his team-best 17th goal of the season.

From then on, it was the Danault show, as the Victoriaville, Quebec native turned a 3-3 stalemate into a 6-3 rout. Danault's first tally, which stood to be the game-winner, came on what seemed to be a harmless play. After carrying the puck through center, Danault cut to the middle and tossed a half-speed shot on net, which went off Campbell's glove, over his shoulder, and across the goal line at 12:54. 

The 22-year-old's next marker was arguably the biggest, giving the IceHogs a two-goal edge; the first time all weekend a team had enjoyed such a cushion. After making a pair of strong saves off of the sticks of McNeill and Ross, Campbell could only watch from a prone position as Danault buried the third rebound at 14:47. 

Campbell took his second loss of the weekend after making 35 saves on 40 shots. Rockford held a commanding 41-26 edge in the shot column, which included 17 in the decisive third period. 

In the other end, Raanta picked up his second win of the season in his second start for Rockford - both coming against Texas. The netminder made 23 saves, and saved his best work for late in the game, especially on a trio of third-period power plays for the Stars. 

The IceHogs killed all but one of Texas' five chances with the extra man, adding a pair of power play goals of their own on four opportunities. 

Also factoring into the scoresheet for Rockford was forward Ryan Hartman with two assists, and rookie Dillon Fournier, who backed up his first two AHL points last night with a third on Saturday, recording the secondary assist on Regin's goal. 

The two teams will conclude their season series March 22 when the Stars make their second and final visit to the BMO Harris Bank Center. 

Next Home Game: Friday, Mar. 6 vs. Oklahoma City at 7 p.m. The IceHogs complete their season series with the Barons as Oklahoma City returns to the BMO for Rockford Hockey Club Night. Rockford will be recognizing youth hockey in the community by wearing specialty Rockford Hockey Club sweaters during the game.