04/04/2015 8:29 AM
Article By: Brent Hollerud
Alex Broadhurst nets five points as Rockford earns first postseason trip since 2010
Rockford, Ill. - After four seasons on the outside looking in, the Rockford IceHogs are once again postseason bound. The IceHogs (41-21-5-2) helped clinch a spot in the 2015 Calder Cup Playoffs with a decisive 7-2 win over the Rochester Americans (27-37-5-1) on Saturday night in front of 5565 at the BMO Harris Bank Center.
The victory, coupled with a Hamilton loss against Utica, ensured Rockford their first playoff berth since the 2009-10 season. The IceHogs become the seventh team to earn their spot in the Calder Cup Playoffs; the fourth from the Western Conference. It is the ninth trip to the postseason in franchise history, and the fourth in the eight years Rockford has been a member of the AHL. Opening round seedings, matchups and dates are all yet to be determined.
24 hours after putting six on the scoreboard against Grand Rapids, the IceHogs offense was dominant once again, led by an incredible performance by Alex Broadhurst. The second-year forward put up two goals and three points to record his first professional five-point game.
In addition to Broadhurst's heroics Spencer Abbott added three assists, and Ryan Hartman (1g-2a), Mark McNeill (1g-1a), Dennis Rasmussen (1g-1a) and Phillip Danault (2a) all logged multi-point efforts. Rockford finished 3-for-5 with the man advantage, receiving points from 10 different skaters to help win their sixth-straight game on home ice.
From the outset the home team dictated the flow of the game, finishing with a suffocating 38-14 advantage in the shot column - setting a season-low in shots allowed in the process. Goaltender Michael Leighton had a quiet night, stopping 12 shots en route to picking up his 19th win of the season. Rookie Anthony Peters suffers the loss, turning aside 24 of 29.
While the IceHogs had the Americans on their heels for much of the opening period, Rochester grabbed the first goal of the night. With support and speed coming across the Rockford line, Dan Catenacci put the visitors up 1-0 when he looked off a pass and fired a hard shot far side to cap off a 2-on-1 rush at 10:14 of the period.
Dennis Rasmussen appeared to find an equalizer minutes later with a tip-in from a point blast, but video review concluded that the deflection was made with a high stick.
Unfazed by the reversed call and a series of missed opportunities, Rockford's persistence paid off with a pair of late goals in short order to swing the lead and the game's momentum back to their side. Broadhurst and the IceHogs power play made no mistake on their first opportunity, tying the game in legal fashion at 18:10.
With the puck down low to Peters' right side, Hartman stepped toward the net and slid a cross-crease pass to a wide-open Broadhurst, who beat the sprawling netminder.
For the second night in a row, Rockford was able to follow up a goal with another one just seconds later. After scoring two third period goals in 30 seconds last night against the Griffins, it took only 22 ticks of the clock for the IceHogs to turn a 1-0 hole into a 2-1 lead.
When an errant point shot rolled to Kyle Cumiskey on the point, the defenseman set up Danault who handcuffed Peters with a cannon from the high slot. The rebound fell right to a waiting McNeill off of the right post, who delivered his 20th goal of the season and second of the weekend at 18:40.
Rockford poured on another three goals in the second period as they continued to hound Peters and the Rochester defenders. The playmaker on the first power play marker, Hartman picked up his own 5-on-4 goal to make it a 3-1 game at 6:51. Hartman beat Peters across the grain after receiving a feed from Spencer Abbott stationed behind the goal line.
The Americans trimmed the IceHogs lead back to one with an impressive goal from Evan Rankin at 10:21, but the home team pushed right back with two more before the end of the period.
Peter Regin restored the two-goal edge at 14:17 when he snapped a howler past Peters from point-blank range; Rockford's third power play goal of the evening. Rasmussen made it 5-2 minutes after when he found a Broadhurst rebound laying idle in the blue paint.
Tempers flared to begin the third period. Cody Bass' second fight of the night sparked a line brawl as three pairs of IceHogs and Americans tussled in the neutral zone.
After the melee Rockford tacked two more goals on the scoresheet, beginning with Broadhurst's second of the evening at 5:05, with assists going to Danault and McNeill.
Broadhurst put a bow on the five-point night when he set up Garret Ross for Rockford's seventh and final goal with just under three minutes remaining.
In just seven games since returning to the lineup from a broken arm, Broadhurst has ignited with four goals and five assists. The Orland Park, Ill. native only had two helpers through his first 15 games this year.
Rockford finishes a three-game homestand on Tuesday as they meet the Milwaukee Admirals for the 12th and final time this year.