By Jim Hagerty
A 2014 playoff spot is no longer in the cards for the Rockford IceHogs after falling to the Chicago Wolves 5-3 Friday, April 18, at the BMO Harris Bank Center.
The IceHogs (34-32-5-4, 77 points) started strong, leading a shooting frenzy and knotting the score at one apiece on a goal by David Gilbert late in the first period. Ryan Hartman snagged his first pro tally with 4:30 left in the frame.
A back-and-forth second period saw the Wolves even the slate at 5:28 on a goal by Michael Davis. Rockford answered four minutes later as Philip Danault fired one past Chicago goaltender Matt Crimie. The Wolves’ Tyler Shattock ended the scoring at 15:57 with a top-shelf wrist shot from just beyond the right faceoff circle.
The game-winner came on Nathan Longpre’s sixth goal of the year, assisted by Jake Chelios at 10:21 of the third. Rockford still had half of the final stanza to tie the game, but couldn’t skate past a late Chicago charge. Alexander Bolduc froze the ‘Hogs on an empty net, power play goal with 18 seconds left.
The win sends Chicago (44-22-5-5, 96 points) back to the All State Arena Saturday to face the Milwaukee Admirals to determine first place in the Midwest Division and a top seed in the 2014 Calder Cup Playoffs.
Rockford is eliminated from the postseason with the loss and overtime win by the Oklahoma City Barons, who squeaked by the Iowa Wild 4-3 at home to grab the eighth AHL Western Conference playoff spot.
The IceHogs conclude their season Saturday against the Charlotte Checkers at the BMO Harris Bank Center. Game time is 7 p.m.