12/11/2015 10:25 PM
Photo by Todd Reicher
Rockford, Ill. - The Rockford IceHogs (17-5-1-2) dispatched the Iowa Wild (4-19-1-3) for the ninth consecutive game courtesy of two points from Garret Ross, winning by a 2-1 score at the BMO Harris Bank Center and jumping into first place overall in the Western Conference. The victory also pushed Rockford’s winning streak to a season-long five-straight games.
Rockford dominated the contest from start to finish, outshooting Iowa 31-11 through the first two frames and 40-23 at the final horn.
The IceHogs tallied first on the power play after Maxime Fortunus took a tripping penalty at 8:34 of the opening stanza. Just under a minute into the man advantage, Viktor Svedberg slid a pass to Ville Pokka, whose point wrister caught the tail of the jersey of Garret Ross before finding the twine.
Iowa’s best chance to score in the first period came with just over a minute and a half to play. Colton Beck tipped a shot from the stick of Fortunus on goal, but Mark Visentin gloved the redirected puck away to maintain the one goal lead. Vince Hinostroza nearly doubled the lead a minute later on the rush, but couldn’t bury a pass from Pierre-Cedric Labrie past Leland Irving.
The middle frame went scoreless for both squads but featured several near-misses for the IceHogs offensively. Ryan Hartman drove the net after forcing a turnover 11 minutes into the stanza, but saw his shot turned away by Irving. With only Iowa defensemen between him and the goal line, Tanner Kero jumped on the loose puck and rang his effort off the crossbar. The third member of the line, Marko Dano, caught iron as well on a partial breakaway four minutes later.
Iowa nearly equalized the game six minutes into the third. Brett Sutter caught Visentin down and out, but Cameron Schilling pulled the tuck attempt off the goal line and Sutter’s subsequent centering pass went untouched through the blue paint.
Rockford picked up an insurance goal that proved to be the difference at 7:32. Jeremy Morin split the Wild defense on the rush and threw a blind centering pass to Ross, who slammed his effort off the pad of Irving. The rebound careened to Jake Dowell, who made no mistake in burying his sixth goal of the season to earn his ninth point in the last five games (4g-5a).
Iowa fought to close the gap, and managed to reduce it to one goal at 11:18. Just as a power play expired, Beck received a pass out of the corner from Marc Hagel and rifled the puck over the blocker of Visentin for his first goal of the year.
The IceHogs closed out the contest in dominant fashion, though, only allowing one shot on Visentin for the rest of the game following the marker. Visentin earned his third victory of the season, and Rockford took its eighth win in its last nine matches.
Next Home Game: Saturday, Dec. 12, vs. Grand Rapids Griffins. Game starts at 7 p.m. Teddy Bear Toss returns to the BMO. Fans are encouraged to bring stuffed animals to toss on the ice after the IceHogs first goal.