By Brent Hollerud
MILWAUKEE — The Rockford IceHogs found a way to start their December road trip on the right foot. The IceHogs (17-6-2-1) won their second game at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in under a week as they dispatched the Admirals (12-8-0-3) 2-1 on Wednesday night, Dec. 10, in their first of six-straight away from the Forest City.
While the final score and the overall feel of Wednesday’s game was much different than the 4-0 blanking last Thursday, Dec. 4, the IceHogs used a similar formula from their last meeting with Milwaukee to earn the same result. Goals from the red-hot Garret Ross and T.J. Brennan built a lead, while the timely goaltending of Michael Leighton preserved it. The victory now evens the season series between the IceHogs and Admirals at three games apiece, after Milwaukee took the first three.
It took more than half the game to find the game’s first goal, but it took all of 40 seconds for Rockford to break open a 1-1 tie as the third period got under way. Brennan hit the attacking blue line with speed, took a feed from Teuvo Teravainen, and uncorked a cannon that beat goaltender Magnus Hellberg over his right shoulder. It was nearly a complete replica of a third-period tally he scored last week in the same building against the same netminder.
The Admirals had a handful of golden opportunities to tie the game down the stretch, but a couple of clutch penalty kills by the IceHogs and a couple stellar saves by their netminder handed Milwaukee their sixth-consecutive defeat. Of all of Leighton’s 18 saves, none was bigger than a pair of huge stops in the final 2 minutes, highlighted by a point-blank kick save on Garret Noonan when Milwaukee was pressing with an extra attacker. The Rockford goaltender’s ledger improves to 7-4-2 on the season with the win.
The IceHogs’ penalty kill unit continued to be cool under pressure, staving off all five of the Admirals’ power-play chances. Rockford’s shorthanded unit has given up only one goal in its last four games in 18 opportunities faced.
After more than 32 minutes of 0-0 hockey to start the game, the player holding the hottest stick for the IceHogs finally opened the scoring. Ross, who grabbed a hat trick in his last outing, got Rockford on the board at 12:25 when he finished off a beautiful feed by linemate Phillip Danault. Seconds after jumping onto the ice on a line change, Dennis Rasmussen curled back inside the blue line, leaving the puck for Danault, who threaded a pass right to the waiting stick of Ross at the goal mouth.
Rockford lost the lead when the Admirals mounted a late push in the closing moments of the second. After taking an outlet pass from Viktor Arvidsson, Pontus Åberg rifled one from a deep angle, beating Leighton over the shoulder to tie the game at 1-1 with 1:21 remaining in the middle frame.
The IceHogs now shift their sights back on the Lake Erie Monsters, who defeated them in overtime back on Sunday, Dec. 7, at the BMO Harris Bank Center. Rockford will make its first visit to Cleveland for a Friday-Saturday, Dec. 13-14, doubleheader against the Monsters at Quicken Loans Arena. Friday’s face-off is slated for 6:30 p.m.
Next Home Game: Friday, Dec. 26, vs. Iowa Wild. Puck drops at 7 p.m. The IceHogs return home from a six-game swing on the road to take on the Wild at the BMO. Fans 21 and older arrive early for another Blues Flame Lounge Pre-Game Party, where they can enjoy free appetizers, live music and drink specials. Doors open at 5:15 p.m.
Posted Dec. 11, 2014