By Todd Reicher
Rockford faced the Manitoba Moose two times this week, and despite their lackluster record, the Moose took it to the ‘Hogs, winning both contests.
The first game of the series, a Wednesday school-day game, the Moose beat Rockford 5-2. Rockford got on the board first with a shorthanded tally from Tanner Kero, assisted by Marko Dano, to put Rockford up 1-0.
Manitoba responded a few minutes later with the equalizing goal at 6:34 of the period.
Shortly after, Rockford would go down a skater when Dano was boarded hard in the defensive zone, resulting in Mark McNeill coming to his defense.
Despite Rockford doubling up the Moose in shots, 14-7, the game remained tied after one.
Patrice Cormier tallied a power play marker 54 seconds into the second period to give the Moose their first lead of the game.
Cormier would strike again less than two minutes later to extend the lead to 3-1.
It looked as if coach Ted Dent was going to pull Michael Leighton as he headed to the bench, but after the referees spoke, Dent miswrote his lineup, putting injured Mark Visentin on the roster sheet, meaning Mac Carruth was ineligible to take his place. Carruth headed off the ice and Leighton remained in the contest.
Late in the period, McNeill scored his 13th goal of the campaign, assisted by Ryan Hartman, to bring the score to 3-2.
The IceHogs weren’t able to sustain any pressure in the third, and the Moose scored their fourth goal of the game 4:31 into the final period.
Cormier secured his hat trick goal at 11:22 of the period, shorthanded, to put the game out of reach for Rockford, 5-2.
Two nights later, the Moose returned for the second game of the brief series. Carruth would get the nod in net this game with Leighton sitting backup.
Maintoba got on the board first with a power play marker at 8:55. The Moose outshot Rockford in the first period this game, almost doubling up Rockford 13-7.
Early in the second the Moose extended their lead to 2-0 with an even-strength marker at 1:51. This was all the scoring in the period as neither team was able to light the lamp again.
The IceHogs finally managed to solve Eric Comrie 12:02 into the final period when Chris DeSousa scored on a sharp-angle shot from the left boards.
Rockford had power play chance with 3:40 left in the game to even things up. However, one minute into the advantage, the Moose scored shorthanded to bring the Moose ahead 3-1.
Manitoba was called for two late hooking penalties, giving Rockford a chance to tie the game.
With 22 seconds left, Rockford’s Cameron Schilling scored a power play marker to cut the lead to 3-2. Despite having a power play for the rest of the game, Rockford was unable to tally the tying goal as the Moose finished with a 3-2 win. Despite putting 21 shots on net in the third, Rockford was only able to amass two goals.
The following night, Rockford over to Chicago for a Lottery Cup matchup against the Wolves.
Rockford got on the board quickly with Dennis Robertson scoring his second goal of the season 69 seconds into the game.
The IceHogs gave up a power play goal 5:14 in the first period to knot the score at 1-1.
With just over five minutes remaining in the period, Ryan Haggerty put his sixth goal of the season into the net to give Rockford their second lead of the game.
The Wolves had an opportunity to even the score with 20 seconds left in the first when Danny Kristo was awarded a penalty shot. Leighton denied the shot attempt, leaving the score at 2-1 after the first.
Similar to the end of the previous game, Rockford fired another 21 shots on goal in the period, a season high.
Chicago made good on a power play marker 7:41 into the second to tie the score at 2-2, where the score would remain until late in the third period.
Kirill Gotovets scored with 5:08 left in the contest to give Rockford a big 3-2 lead.
The Wolves pulled their netminder Pheonix Copley in the waning minute, but Dane Walters scored an empty net goal to secure the lead for Rockford, 4-2.
Rockford plays three road games this week, starting with a Wednesday matchup against the Milwaukee Admirals, which will temporarily determine first place in the Division. The IceHogs will then head over to Ohio for a weekend series against the Lake Erie Monsters. The first game is on Friday with the second game the following night.