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CORMIER'S HAT TRICK SINKS ICEHOGS ON SCHOOL DAY GAME

Photo by Todd Reicher
02/17/2016 1:00 PM

Article By: Bob Mills

Rockford, Ill. – The Manitoba Moose (14-27-4-5) snapped a 1-1 tie 54 seconds into the second period and never looked back as they took down the Rockford IceHogs (28-12-5-4) by a 5-2 final score at the BMO Harris Bank Center on Wednesday morning.

Patrice Cormier led the charge for Manitoba as he collected a hat trick with goals at even-strength, on the power play, and shorthanded.

Rockford snagged the first goal of the game 3:52 into the contest while shorthanded. With Manitoba on the power play, Marko Dano stole the puck in the offensive end and made a quick feed to Tanner Kero. Rockford's rookie forward snapped a shot into the top left corner for the ninth shorthanded goal of the season for the IceHogs.

Manitoba tied the game less than three minutes later. After a shot from JC Lipon went wide of the net, Matt Fraser recovered the loose rubber behind the net and made a backhand pass to Lipon at the bottom of the left circle. Lipon then fired a shot just under the crossbar to even the score at 1-1.

The IceHogs had an opportunity to regain the lead with 1:05 of five-on-three time later in the frame, but the Moose killed off the power play and the two sides remained tied heading into the second period.

A carry over power play from the first frame helped Manitoba take a 2-1 lead. Patrice Cormier one-timed a pass from Lipon from just outside the goal crease, sliding the shot under Michael Leighton 54 seconds into the second stanza.

Cormier picked up his second goal just 1:48 later. With a delayed penalty on the way against Rockford, Matt Halischuk bumped a pass to Cormier in the attacking zone. With one hand on his stick, Cormier slid a backhand just past the outstretched pad of Leighton to bump the score to 3-1.

Mark McNeill improved his goal scoring streak to four games when he answered for Rockford at 15:43. Just after Manitoba had a two-on-one rush in the IceHogs end, Ryan Hartman took the puck back up ice and fired a shot towards the cage. The puck bounced off McNeill before sailing past goaltender Connor Hellebuyck and into the net.

During four-on-four action in the third, John Albert restored a two-goal lead for the Moose. After a puck bounced away at the blue line, Albert raced in for an uncontested breakaway and tallied his ninth goal of the season.

Cormier finished off his hat trick when he pounded home a shorthanded rebound after Halischuk was denied by Leighton on a breakaway.

Leighton finished the game with 22 saves while Hellebuyck stopped 30 of the 32 shots he faced for Manitoba.

The IceHogs were held off the board on all seven power play chances while Manitoba converted on one of their two chances.

Next Home Game: Friday, February 19 vs. Manitoba Moose: The game begins at 7 p.m. BMO Harris Bank will be giving away a free pair of socks to the first 2,500 fans in attendance, and the IceHogs encourage all fans to bring new pairs of socks to donate to Project Undershare. Fans who donate socks will receive a ticket voucher to a pre-selected game.