11/06/2015 8:55 PM
Photo by Sam Iannamico
Article By: Bob Mills
Grand Rapids, Mich. – After surrendering the game's first goal just 2:44 into the contest, goaltender Michael Leighton and the Rockford IceHogs slammed the door for the rest of the game, scoring four unanswered tallies to take a 4-1 win on the road over the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Leighton finished the contest with 40 stops to stay unbeaten over his last six starts (5-0-0-1).
The Griffins started the scoring less than three minutes into the first frame. Tomas Nosek punched the puck towards the net and after it bounced off of a few bodies, Martin Frk was able to settle it down and squeeze a shot past Leighton to give the Griffins the 1-0 lead.
Ryan Hartman answered back for Rockford exactly four minutes later when he took a feed from Brandon Mashinter at the attacking blueline, raced in on goal, and banked a shot off the right goalpost and into the cage.
P.C. Labrie snapped the 1-1 tie at 7:44 of the second frame. While shorthanded, Jake Dowell deflected a breakout pass into the neutral zone, and Labrie picked up the loose puck at center ice. After his initial shot was blocked in front of the net, the IceHogs left winger collected his own rebound and flipped a backhander over a diving Tom McCollum to put Rockford in front 2-1.
Leighton preserved the advantage with time winding down in the middle stanza, making a flurry of saves in the final minute as Rockford held the edge going into the third.
Grand Rapids had a few good opportunities to tie the game while on the power play in the third period, but Leighton continued to shine in the blue paint holding Rockford’s lead. Bryan Bickell then gave the IceHogs some breathing room when he deflected a shot from Ville Pokka while on the power play as Rockford grabbed a two-goal cushion at 8:31 of the third.
Nolan Valleau put the icing on the win with his first professional goal with 5:17 to play. The defenseman fired a wrister from the left point into the top right corner of the net to seal the game at 4-1.
With the win, the IceHogs improved to 6-0-0-1 in their last seven contests, and have earned a point in every game dating back to Oct. 21.
Next Home Game: Saturday, Nov. 7 vs. Milwaukee Admirals at 7 p.m.: The IceHogs will pay tribute to all armed service personnel with Military Appreciation Night when the Milwaukee Admirals come to town. The first 1,500 fans will receive bomber hats compliments of Pepsi.