By Todd Reicher
Things continue to fall in place for the Rockford IceHogs this week as the team goes 1-0-1 in week five to bring their point streak to eight straight games.
Rockford’s first contest this week came on the road against the Grand Rapids Griffins, who knocked Rockford out of the playoffs in five games last year.
After coming off back-to-back shutouts against the Iowa Wild, Rockford would only surrender one goal against the Griffins, thanks to a 40 save effort from Michael Leighton as the ‘Hogs defeated the Griffins 4-1.
It was Martin Frk who chimed in first with his third goal of the season 2:44 into the contest. The forward found a loose puck in the slot and bounced in over Leighton’s blocker for the early lead.
From then on it was all Rockford, at least on the scoring sheet. In his first game back after being reassigned by the Chicago Blackhawks, Ryan Hartman potted his fourth goal of the season, assisted by Brandon Mashinter and Mark McNeill.
The second period was all Griffins, with Grand Rapids outshooting Rockford 16-3, but the only goal scored was an unassisted shorthanded tally by P.C. Labrie.
In his first game for the IceHogs since 2010, Bryan Bickell tallied his first marker this season with a redirect from a Ville Pokka blast, to put Rockford ahead 3-1. The power play marker scored at 8:31 of the third period gave Rockford a little breathing room.
Nolan Valleau put the dagger in at 14:43 of the period to give Rockford a commanding 4-1 lead. Leighton shut the door the rest of the way, making 14 more third period saves.
The following night Rockford would host the Milwaukee Admirals for the final game at the BMO Harris Bank Center until November 22.
After a well-fought bout between former teammates Labrie and Cody Bass, the IceHogs would tally the games first goal off the stick of Mashinter. As the puck bounced around in the crease, Mashinter gathered it in and flipped it into the net for his fourth of the season.
Jamie Devane scored his first of the season off a rebound by Mark Visentin to knot the score at 1-1. At one time Rockford held a 12-3 scoring advantage, but could not beat Marek Mazanec a second time.
A power play marker midway through the second gave the Ads their first lead of the game, thanks to Adam Payerl.
Rockford finally evened the score at 8:50 of the third period when Pokka beat Mazanec five-hole as he came in transition deep into the offensive zone.
A costly penalty with 1:01 remaining in overtime sealed the ‘Hogs fate. While playing 3-on-3 overtime, and in transition to the offensive zone, Rockford was flagged for a delay of game penalty, putting Milwaukee at a 4-on-3 advantage for the rest of the game.
With a hard one-timer that deflected off Visentin’s pads and into the net, Trevor Murphy sealed the extra point for the Ads as Milwaukee would win 3-2.
Rockford only plays two games this week, a weekend series in Iowa against the Wild. Both games will start at 7 p.m. The IceHogs next home game will not take place until Sunday, November 22 when they host the Lake Erie Monsters. This will also be the night where the Stanley Cup comes to town, as fans can get their picture taken with the celebrated trophy.