04/09/2015 8:00 PM
Rockford scores three second period goals in 5-3 win over Iowa
The victory was the fourth-straight for the IceHogs, who were in Iowa to kick off their final road trip of the regular season. The two points brings Rockford (93 points) within one point of the Midwest Division-leading Grand Rapids Griffins and two of the Western Conference-pacing Utica Comets. Five games remain on the IceHogs schedule, beginning with a Saturday-Sunday doubleheader in North Carolina against the Charlotte Checkers.
While Thursday's win wasn't earned in as dominant of fashion as some of their recent wins, the IceHogs followed a similar strategy to get the job done. Balanced, opportune scoring led the way, as Rockford met a two-goal second-period push from the Wild with three of their own, spotting the visitors a 5-3 lead after 40 minutes.
Despite being outshot 21-7 in the middle frame, goals from Alex Broadhurst, Dennis Rasmussen and Spencer Abbott gave the IceHogs all the cushion they would need to finish their season series with the Wild with a 6-2-0-0 record.
Goaltender Michael Leighton stopped 19 shots in the second period and was perfect in the third, picking up his 20th win of the campaign. Leighton was instrumental in keeping Iowa at bay down the stretch, making several big stops when Iowa was trying to build a comeback. None were better than a sprawling glove save early in the third, robbing Ruslan Fedotenko on a 2-on-1 rush.
Five total goals were scored in a wide open second period, the first coming just 47 seconds in thanks to a beautiful individual effort by Broadhurst. Moments after Leighton made a back-door pad save, Kyle Cumiskey found the forward streaking through the neutral zone with speed. After splitting through a pair of defenders, Broadhurst beat Johan Gustafsson glove side to give Rockford a 3-1 lead.
The lead wouldn't last long, as the combination of Kurtis Gabriel and Stephane Veilleux connected twice in under five minutes to bring the Wild back to even ground at the game's halfway point. Veilleux scored on a 3-on-2 rush at 3:54 and again at 8:27 with a clean shot off of a draw - both times courtesy of a pass from Gabriel.
Rasmussen had a quick answer to Iowa's equalizer, however, as he made it 4-3 with a power play goal at 9:50 that needed video review to come to fruition. A Stephen Johns point shot popped outside the left post, allowing Rasmussen to jam the puck across the line.
Abbott finished the scoring with a backbreaker with 1:34 to play in the second. Rockford's hottest goal scorer drove down the left wing and picked up his own rebound, earning his third goal in his last two games. The Hamilton, Ontario native now has three goals and six assists over his last four outings, and brings his point total to 19 (10g-9a) in just 15 games with the IceHogs.
Rockford and Iowa exchanged goals in a first period that ended with the IceHogs holding a 2-1 edge. After signing an amateur tryout contract on Monday, rookie Tanner Kero grabbed his first-career professional goal in just his second shift to open the scoring for Rockford. The product of Michigan Tech carried the puck down the right side and threw a wrist shot through a screen and over Gustafsson's blocker 4:56 into the game.
After having a goal disallowed due to a high stick, Iowa made it 1-1 when Fedontenko beat Leighton short side off of the left post at 12:10. The IceHogs responded soon after as Mark McNeill picked up the first of his team's two goals scored courtesy of a carom from the end wall. Keith Seabrook deftly fired a shot from the blue line just wide of the net, at just the right angle to find McNeill's stick off the opposite post. McNeill flicked the puck home on his backhand for his 21st marker of the season, tying him with Garret Ross for the Rockford lead.
The IceHogs finished 1-for-6 with the man advantage, but relied heavily on their penalty kill unit, which finished a perfect 3-for-3. Rockford successfully killed a brief 5-on-3 power play as well as a double-minor to Rasmussen, both coming in the second period.
Rockford begins their two game set at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte Saturday night at 6 p.m. The IceHogs then wrap up the road portion of their regular season slate with a Sunday matinee before finishing with three games at the BMO Harris Bank Center next week.
Next Home Game: Wednesday, April 15 vs. Charlotte Checkers. The IceHogs begin a three-game homestand to close out their regular season schedule when they host Charlotte at the BMO. It is the final WXRX Dollar Day of the season, so fans have one last chance to enjoy hot dogs, sodas, beers and companion tickets all for just $1 each.