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Tales from the Trough: IceHogs still grasping for wins
Posted By Brandon Reid On February 23, 2011 @ 12:00 am In Online Exclusives | No Comments
By Todd Reicher
The Rockford IceHogs started out their last busy four-game week with a tough game against the Peoria Rivermen Wednesday, Feb. 16. There wasn’t much scoring in this game, with a total of 3 goals finding the twine. The good news is that the IceHogs held the advantage on goals.
This is the type of game the ’Hogs needed to play, minus the penalties. The team needed a confidence booster, and holding a team to just 1 goal was a big help.
On the other hand, discipline was an issue as the ’Hogs committed seven penalties, although they were 6-for-7 on the penalty kill.
Rockford’s rock, Jeff Taffe, continued his tear and put the ’Hogs ahead first. Early in the first, Ben Smith set up Taffe for his 17th of the season, while the ’Hogs were on their second power play. Rockford did have a very brief 3-second 5-on-3 opportunity, and the goal was scored just moments after Peoria got their fourth skater back.
Evan Brophey doubled the lead late in the second with a set-up from All-Star Brian Connelly to put the ’Hogs up 2-0.
Alec Richards played a very solid game in net, stopping all 24 shots he faced in the first two periods.
The Rivermen would continue to blast shots at Richards, but he remained stalwart and fended off 10 more shots in the third without letting one by. It wasn’t until 19:58 into the final period that Peoria finally managed to get one past Richards and end his bid for a shutout. Graham Mink slammed the door on the shutout, while the Rivermen had their final powerplay attempt of the game. But after losing four straight games, this bout had to give Rockford some confidence going into the rest of their busy week.
Friday, Feb. 18, the Chicago Wolves drove into town, and the ’Hogs hoped to keep their momentum going from their previous matchup against Peoria.
Rockford would take the first lead of the game with just under 6 minutes remaining in the first. Ryan Potulny, who is closing in on Taffe for the team lead in goals, netted his 15th of the season. Taffe extended his scoring streak to 10 games as he and Connelly were both credited with assists on the goal.
Ryan Garbutt would get the equalizer 2 minutes later for the Wolves, sending the game to a 1-1 tie after 20 minutes.
For the rest of the second period, it was all Chicago. The Wolves netted three goals in the second, with the final two coming late in the period and in a span of 44 seconds. Jason Krog, Andrey Zubarev and Tim Miller all scored for the Wolves, giving them a commanding 4-1 lead after two.
Rockford would make a game of it in the third. Potulny scored his second powerplay goal of the night a few seconds shy of the midway point, with Taffe and Brandon Pirri assisting on the goal.
Kyle Beach would bring the ’Hogs to within 1 with the ’Hogs’ third powerplay goal of the night. Once again, Taffe and Connelly would get the helpers on the goal.
Rockford pressured more, but the comeback would come to a screeching halt when Jassen Cullimore committed a slashing penalty with just more than 2 minutes remaining in regulation, leaving the ’Hogs shorthanded through the remainder of the game.
The Wolves fought off the Rockford onslaught and rode back home with a 4-3 victory.
For Saturday’s game, the Houston Aeros flew back in to the MetroCentre and played the game as if it were their home ice. Houston outshot, out-hit, and out-played the ’Hogs en route to a 5-3 win.
Houston’s Jon DiSalvatore gave the Aeros the first lead of the game, and Justin Falk made it 2-0 with 5 minutes remaining in the first.
With time winding down, Potulny tied Taffe with his 17th of the season, with only 39 seconds remaining in the period. Taffe would once again extend his scoring streak as he and Beach were given assists on the goal.
Houston would reclaim their two-goal lead exactly 1 minute in the middle frame with Maxim Noreau tallying his ninth of the season.
Rockford would cut the lead down to one once again. Pirri would light the lamp for the eighth time this season, and Peter LeBlanc and Mathis Olimb would get helpers on the goal.
Both teams would remain scoreless until 6 minutes into the third. Beach would score his 13th of the season, knotting the score at 3-3, and giving the fans some hope of a come-from-behind win.
Chad Rau would put the comeback a little further out of reach with his sixth goal of the season around the midpoint of the frame. Robbie Earl and Justin Falk would both get their second points of the night with assists on the goal.
Veteran Jed Ortmeyer would seal the deal with an empty-net goal with 30 seconds remaining in the game, sending the Aeros flying away with a 5-3 victory.
For their fourth game of the week, and third in four days, the ’Hogs hosted the Rivermen once again Monday, Feb. 21. Rockford was hoping for similar performances from their team and, it was hoped, match their 2-1 win from five days ago.
Peoria’s Mink was not about to let that happen. He scored the lone goal for the Rivermen Wednesday and would continue his scoring where he left off. Mink scored the first two goals of the game, the first on the powerplay under 4 minutes into the game, and 4 minutes later.
Once again, it was Taffe to the rescue, closing the gap to 2-1 late in the first with his partner in crime, Potulny, getting the assist.
But Peoria would come back with two more first-period goals and go into the locker room with a massive 4-1 lead after 20 minutes.
That lead would be extended to 5-1 when ’Hog-killer Mink completed the hat trick while on the powerplay at the 8-minute mark of the second.
Down 5-1 going into the third, a comeback didn’t look to be in the cards for the ’Hogs, but Connelly made an effort to stack the deck. Just more than a minute into the third, Connelly would notch his fifth of the season, with Shawn Lalonde and Pirri on the assist.
LeBlanc would close the gap to 5-3 at the midpoint of the third, with his ninth of the season with only 33 games played.
The comeback would fall short for the ’Hogs, and the nail as put in the coffin by, who else, Mink. His 18th goal of the campaign and third powerplay goal of the night sealed the deal and had the Rivermen rowing home with a 6-3 romping of the ’Hogs.
Rockford has another busy four-game week. Wednesday, Feb. 23, the ’Hogs headed to Rosemont to face the Chicago Wolves. The team then plays three consecutive games, Friday, Feb. 25, at Peoria, then home Saturday, Feb. 26, to host the Admirals, then a flight back down to Houston Sunday, Feb. 27, against the Aeros.
From the Feb. 23-March 1, 2011, issue
Article printed from The Rock River Times: http://rockrivertimes.com
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