By Todd Reicher
Rockford’s third-week schedule had the ’Hogs facing off against the Abbotsford Heat and Chicago Wolves.
After being swept in their first two home games of the season, the Heat looked to return the favor and beat the ’Hogs on their home ice.
Rockford got on the board first when Wade Brookbank tallied his first marker of the year. Shawn Lalonde put a shot on net that was blocked off by Heat goalie Leland Irving. Brookbank, who was waiting at the net, gobbled up the puck and knocked it past Irving for a 1-0 lead, which would hold until the end of the first period.
Abbotsford would respond just more than 5 minutes into the second, when Heat center Mitch Wahl tallied his first of the year. Keith Seabrook played a shot from the point that hit the post and rebounded out to Cam Cumming. His shot was fended off by ’Hogs’ goalie Alec Richards, but Richards couldn’t contain the rebound, and Wahl slipped it in the net.
Fewer than 5 minutes later, the Heat would take the lead for the first time in the game. Gaelan Patterson led a two-on-two rush over the ’Hogs’ blueline, and found Lance Bouma in between ’Hogs defenders. Bouma faked a shot, then cut across the crease and beat Richards, putting the Heat up by 1.
The Heat would add to their lead just more than a minute into the third. A shot from the point by Heat defenseman Josh Meyers was blocked down, but Richards couldn’t control the rebound, and Cunning was there to slap the puck in top shelf over a sprawling Richards.
Abbotsford would seal the deal with less than 2 minutes remaining in the game. Greg Nemisz scored his third goal of the season when the Heat caught the break from a loose puck. ’Hogs defenseman Ivan Vishnevskiy couldn’t grab a puck from an Irving rebound, and Patterson grabbed the puck and raced toward the ’Hogs’ end. Patterson found Nemisz streaking from the right side and beat Richards short side to put the Heat up 4-1, and on the winning end of a road game.
Saturday, Oct. 23, was the first of 10 games this year against division rival Chicago Wolves.
Chicago was the first to light the lamp just more than a minute into the game while on an early powerplay. AHL veteran Jason Krog put his first goal of the year past Hannu Toivoinen when he sniped a shot from just outside the left faceoff circle. It was the first time the Wolves had scored first this season.
Whenever heated rivals face one another in hockey, you can count on a few things: a good, hard-hitting game, elevated tempers and emotions, and an excellent fight or two. This game would be no different. Two-and-a-half minutes into the game, Kyle Hagel would get into his second scrap in as many nights when he tangled with Chicago’s Adam Huxley. The fight seemed even for most of the duration, but Hagel got in a few good shots at the end before the linesmen broke up the fight. A revved-up Hagel threw his arms in the air, inciting the MetroCentre crowd of 4,124 fans.
Less than 1 minute later, Kyle Beach would get into his first fight of the year. The Wolves’ Spencer Machacek objected to physical play imposed by Beach, and the two tangled. Both skaters landed some good shots, and were pulled apart when Beach wrestled Machacek to the ice.
Penalties would accumulate during the rest of the first period and into the second period with neither team taking advantage of the man advantages.
The score remained tied for more than 32 minutes until Chicago tallied their second goal of the evening. Wolves winger Andrew Kozek slipped a shot underneath Toivoinen’s pads, increasing the lead to 2-0 more than halfway through the second period.
Just shy of 15 minutes into the second, ’Hogs defenseman Garnet Exelby was tagged with a boarding minor, giving the Wolves their fourth powerplay of the night. As the Wolves were coming into the offensive zone, Rob Klinkhammer stopped an incoming pass, and led a pass way up the ice to a streaking Ben Smith, who got behind the defense. As he was being taken down, Smith grabbed the end-over-end puck and wristed it to the top blocker side of Wolves goalie Drew MacIntyre, narrowing the score to 2-1. The shorthanded goal was the ’Hogs’ first shortie of the season.
Chicago would increase the lead to 2 once again 3 minutes into the final period. Nigel Dawes slapped a shot top shelf on Toivoinen to increase the lead to 3-1. The play was set up by some excellent passing between Krog and fellow veteran Darren Haydar. As Haydar and Krog rushed the net, Haydar made a nifty, blind, backhanded pass to Dawes, who was following the rush from the middle of the ice.
That 3-1 lead would be narrowed by the ’Hogs just 2 minutes later. Chris DiDominico received a Brian Connelly pass and rushed down the right wing into the Wolves’ zone. DiDominico sped up and found Klinkhammer racing toward the net, and Klinkhammer quickly received the pass and slid it through the five-hole. The assist was 19-year-old DiDominico’s first point of the season.
More penalties were tallied, but in Rockford’s favor, as the ’Hogs were rewarded with a 34-second five-on-three. With time winding down on the powerplay, Rockford would make Chicago pay. Connelly and former Chicago defenseman Vishnevskiy swapped defensive locations as Connelly took the puck with him to the left point. He fed the puck back to Vishnevskiy, who slapped a one-timer to the short side of MacIntyre and into the back of the net, knotting the score at 3.
After the ’Hogs killed off one more third-period penalty, and no leader after regulation, the game went into overtime. Rockford’s four-on-four defense played tightly, limiting Chicago to zero shots on goal in the first 4 minutes of the 5-minute overtime.
With just more than a minute left in the overtime, Chicago’s Mike Siklenka was flagged for hooking Klinkhammer, putting Rockford on one last powerplay.
About 20 seconds into the powerplay, Connelly skated the puck to the top of the left faceoff circle and fed a cross-ice pass to Ryan Potulny, who reared back and took a shot to the left corner of the net. ’Hogs winger Igor Makarov slid to the side of the net, unnoticed, and carefully aimed his stick waist-high toward the goal. His aim was dead-on as he caught the Potulny shot mid-flight and redirected the shot into the back of the net. Elated, Makarov raced across the ice to a screaming Potulny, where the two were quickly joined by the rest of the team, who celebrated the come-from-behind 4-3 overtime win.
A total of 27 penalties were called during the game, with Chicago committing 14 of the 27. Chicago finished one for six on the powerplay while Rockford wound up two for eight.
The ’Hogs’ next game is Wednesday, Oct. 27, at the MetroCentre when they take on the 2009-2010 Calder Cup finalist Texas Stars. The ’Hogs then travel to Rosemont, Ill., Saturday, Oct. 30, to take on the Chicago Wolves for their second meeting of the season.
From the Oct. 27-Nov. 2, 2010 issue