11/18/2015 9:02 PM
Photo by Sam Iannamico
Grand Rapids, Mich. – The Rockford IceHogs battled back from a two-goal deficit to tie the game at 2-2 halfway through the third, but a quick response from the Grand Rapids Griffins vaulted the home squad to a 3-2 victory over the IceHogs.
Michael Leighton stole the show in the opening frame, making a number of stops on point blank chances to keep the game scoreless. Despite two opportunies with a man-advantage in the opening frame, the Griffins could not convert as Leighton stopped 14 shots. Rockford and Grand Rapids went into the first intermission with the score knotted at 0-0.
The Griffins potted the game's first goal 3:43 into the second period. Anthony Mantha got his own rebound in the right corner and fed a pass into the low slot where Andy Miele was waiting to drive home a one-timer and give the Griffins the 1-0 lead.
Nathan Paetsch doubled that advantage at 14:50 of the frame when his slap shot from the blue line hit traffic in front of the net and bounced just inside the post. The disputed goal was reviewed by the officials, but was ruled a good goal to put Grand Rapids up 2-0.
Grand Rapids looked poised to take a 2-0 lead into the third period, but with 11.2 seconds to go Bryan Bickell caught Griffins defenseman Xavier Ouellet in front of the net and slapped the puck off his stick and past Jared Coreau. Bickell cut the Griffins lead in half and pushed his point streak to five games (4g-4a) as he has notched at least one point in all five games he has played for Rockford this season.
The IceHogs briefly tied the game midway through the final stanza. Jake Dowell grabbed the puck in the left corner and rocketed a shot off of Coreau and into the back of the net to tie the game at 2-2. It was the 50th goal for Dowell in his professional career.
The tie game lasted just 34 seconds however, as Robbie Russo notched his third point of the game when his slap shot from the right point found its way through traffic and inside the right goalpost at 10:11 of the third. Russo's first professional goal would stand up as the game-winner, as the Griffins snapped Rockford's 10-game point streak and five game road winning streak with the 3-2 win.
Leighton (8-3-1-1) blocked 31 shots but suffered his first regulation loss in eight starts, while Coreau (3-2-0-1) turned aside 33 to earn the win.
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 2015 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.