IceHogs eye fifth straight win

Garret Ross
Garret Ross

Staff Report

SAN ANTONIO – The Rockford IceHogs hope to make it five wins in a row as they face the San Antonio Rampage Saturday, Nov. 1, at the AT&T Center in the second of a two-game series.

Friday night, Garret Ross entered the contest without a goal and left it tied for the team lead. Ross’ hat trick sparked a strong performance by the Rockford offense, leading to a 6-3 IceHogs win.

After tallying his first goal of the year in the second, Ross provided the game-winning goal with his second, which gave Rockford a 4-2 lead and helped spur the IceHogs (6-2-0-1) to their fourth-consecutive victory. The second-year forward had to beat the final buzzer for his hat-trick goal, tossing the puck into the empty net with one second on the clock to ice the game.

While the game ended in a three-goal deficit, the Rampage (5-4-0-0) were far from out of contention. Winger Connor Brickley was able to answer just 2:17 after Ross opened the third period scoring to cut the lead to 4-3. Brickley got a piece of a Greg Zanon point blast to beat IceHogs netminder Michael Leighton.

Down the stretch San Antonio was pressing for the equalizer, but thanks to a couple strong saves by Leighton, and a big marker by Phillip Danault at 16:25, Rockford was able to hold the home team at bay.  Danault finished with three points (1g-2a), and when added to Ross’ big night and two assists by Mark McNeill, helped make Friday a phenomenal night for the IceHogs sophomore class.

Leighton continued his hot play, grabbing his fourth win in a row while making 22 saves. Dan Ellis takes the defeat for the Rampage, stopping 17 of 22.

The first period was played at great pace as the two teams pushed early for scoring opportunities. The IceHogs were the first to break through, as Matt Carey scored to extend his goal scoring streak to three games. After gaining the puck deep in his own zone, defenseman Stephen Johns made a beautiful 150-foot pass to a streaking Carey, who beat Dan Ellis on a breakaway.

Rockford’s lead was fleeting however, as the Rampage staged a strong push back on the ensuing shift, tying the game 38 seconds later when Tony Turgeon got a stick on a point shot from Alex Petrovic, deflecting the puck past Michael Leighton.

For the first time all season, Rockford was able to head into the final period of play not locked in a stalemate with their opponent. The IceHogs regained the lead just under five minutes into the second when they were able to capitalize on a 5-on-3 power play opportunity. Teuvo Teravainen threaded a near perfect pass from above the circles to the goal mouth where he found a waiting Joakim Nordstrom, who quickly beat Ellis to put Rockford ahead 2-1.

The lead was extended at the 10:20 mark when Garret Ross buried his first of the year. Finding himself on the half-board during a 2-on-1 rush, Phillip Danault floated a nice pass onto Ross’ stick, who snapped it over the shoulder of Ellis to give the IceHogs a two-goal lead.

Like they did after the game’s first goal, San Antonio found a quick answer, as a bench minor led to a power play tally for Ryan Martindale. After the IceHogs were penalized for having too many men, Martindale found enough space to walk in and tuck one under the bar to cut the lead to one heading into the final period.

The special teams were all even during the contest, with each squad netting one power play goal on four opportunities.

Next Home Game: Tuesday, Nov. 4 vs. Lake Erie Monsters at 7 p.m. It’s a WXRX Dollar Day at the BMO Harris Bank Center as hot dogs, sodas, beers and companion tickets will be available for one dollar each.

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