By Todd Reicher
After an incredible January, the IceHogs started out February, and their first week after the All-Star break, with a pair of losses to the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Friday’s game started out well for Rockford with Mike Liambas scoring his first goal of the season on an unassisted, short-handed marker 3:31 into the game.
Rockford’s lead only lasted 27 seconds when Mitch Callahan scored on the same power play to even up the score.
From then on, it was all Grand Rapids with the Griffins racking up a total of nine goals on the ‘Hogs.
While I am not one to complain about officiating, there were certainly some calls that should not have been made. One such call was a blatant tripping penalty on Colin Campbell for Grand Rapids that sent Tanner Kero down to the ice and into the boards. For some reason, referee Shaun Davis decided to call Kero for embellishment, sending him to the box as well. In total, Rockford was called for 10 short-handed opportunities, 12 infractions, in which the Griffins would convert four of those into goals.
One unfortunate penalty was Kiril Gotovets receiving a major for boarding, along with a game misconduct 2:02 into the second period on Eric Tangradi. Tangradi lay on the ice for a few minutes before being helped off the ice with the help of Griffins medical staff. Tangradi would return late in the game, which was good to see.
Callahan would lead the way for the Griffins with a monstrous five-point game, consisting of three goals and two assists.
Michael Leighton would be pulled from the game after giving up five goals on 21 shots. His replacement, Mac Carruth, did not fare any better, giving up four goals on 11 shots.
The following night, both teams headed up to Grand Rapids for the second game of the home-and-home series. Rockford would play a much stronger game, but still fell in overtime 4-3.
The Griffins would tally the first goal early on in the first period with a power play goal.
Mark McNeill, who had his nine-game scoring streak broken the previous night, would tie the score up at 1-1 with his 10th of the season
Once again, the tie was short lived with Martin Frk scoring his second of the game just over two minutes after McNeill knotted the game up at one.
Just shy of the midway point of the second period, Kero would tie up the score, but yet again, Grand Rapids reclaimed the lead 47 seconds later.
Rockford would convert on a power play opportunity later in the second period to once again tie the score. Marko Dano converted on the attempt for his fourth of the season.
This time, the score would remain tied for quite some time – forcing the game to overtime.
Just 59 seconds into the extra session, Tomas Nosek scored on a rebound let out by Leighton to give the Griffins the extra point, sweeping the weekend series.
Rockford will only play two games again this week, with one road game and one home game. The road game is Friday at the Bradley Center against the Milwaukee Admirals, while the second game, a Sunday 4 p.m. meeting at the BMO, hosting the Griffins once again.
The Grand Rapids game is the first of three straight home games before Rockford embarks on a stretch of five straight road games, taking them to Milwaukee, Lake Erie and Grand Rapids.