11/14/2015 9:53 PM
Photo courtesy of Shane Abbitt
Des Moines, Iowa – Trading goals throughout the entire game the Rockford IceHogs were able to outlast the Iowa Wild for a 4-3 victory on Saturday night at Wells Fargo Arena.
With the win, Rockford completed a weekend sweep of the Wild to remain perfect through five games in the 12-game season series between the two clubs. The IceHogs also pushed their point streak to 10 games (8-0-1-1).
For the first time in the five matchups, it was the Wild that generated the game’s first goal. Michael Keranen won a battle along the boards before firing the puck at the IceHogs net. The shot caught goaltender Michael Leighton off guard and snuck past him at 7:19 in the opening frame.
Rockford began to mount the pressure looking for the equalizer. Vince Hinostroza nearly finished off a two-on-one with just over nine minutes remaining in the period, but Iowa’s Jeremy Smith made a spectacular save to keep the Hogs off the board.
The IceHogs were finally able to crack through at 13:09 when Dennis Rasmussen potted his second goal in as many nights. Defenseman Nolan Valleau wired a shot-pass to Rasmussen who was stationed in front of the Wild net. Rasmussen put his blade on the puck and redirected it through the five-hole of Jeremy Smith at 13:09 to even the score at 1-1.
The two teams exchanged goals in the second period with both sides notching two goals apiece.
The Wild regained the lead just 1:48 into the second off Grayson Downing’s stick. Christoph Bertschy collected a loose puck behind the Rockford cage and set up Downing for a one-time to make it a 2-1 game.
The IceHogs responded with two goals 19 seconds apart to take their first lead of the game. Ville Pokka found Bryan Bickell just above the left faceoff circle and he buried his third goal of the season at 4:36.
Then, Mark McNeill gave the IceHogs a 3-2 advantage when he drove in from the far boards and blasted a shot past Smith at 4:55. Bickell factored in on both goals to pick up his third point of the game, marking his second three-point outing in less than 24 hours and extending his personal point streak to four straight games (3g-5a).
Iowa got back into the game in the later stages of the period to set up a 3-3 tie going into the final frame. Brett Sutter found Zack Mitchell on the doorstep who was able to tap the puck past a sprawled out Leighton at 14:18 in the third.
Both teams exchanged a pair of power plays in the final 20 minutes before the IceHogs made their third count. Hinostroza found Kyle Cumiskey streaking in from the blueline and the d-man blew a slap shot past Smith at 13:15 to give the IceHogs the lead for good at 4-3.
Iowa tried to mount another late charge but Leighton held strong, turning away 10 shots in the third period and 28 total in the game.
Next Home Game: Sunday, Nov. 22 vs. Lake Erie at 4 p.m. The IceHogs face Lake Erie for the first time all season on Stanley Cup Night at the BMO Harris Bank Center. Rockford will celebrate its alumni and the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks by displaying the Cup for fans in attendance. Hub Printing will give away 2,500 posters celebrating the Blackhawks championships.