By Todd Reicher
The Rockford IceHogs carried a two game losing streak into Charlotte for a quick two-game series against the Checkers.
The first period of game one on Wednesday, November 2 was a pretty even match for the most part, but Charlotte kept Rockford’s offense at bay, holding them to five shots on goal compared to Charlotte’s seven.
Period two was all Charlotte as the Checkers outshoot Rockford 13-5, but managed only one goal against Lars Johanssen. Brock McGinn tallied his third goal of the season just past the midway point of the game to give Charlotte the 1-0 lead.
At the exact midway point through the final period, Charlotte doubled their lead when Sergey Tolchinsky fired a power play marker into the net.
With time winding down and down 2-0, Rockford pulled Johanssen for the extra attacker, but Charlotte found the empty net with 2:19 left in the game to increase the Charlotte lead to 3-0. A second empty net goal with six seconds remaining sealed a 4-0 win for the Checkers.
Backstopping Charlotte at the other end of the ice was a face the ‘Hogs had seen many times before in Michael Leighton. As he had done many times before, Leighton was a wall behind the defense and stopped all shots in the game, earning yet another shutout in his illustrious career.
The following night both teams took the ice for the second game of the double-header, but the results remained the same with Charlotte taking the win, although in a much closer game on the scoreboard.
McGinn opened the scoring again with a marker at 4:53, but Rockford’s Cameron Schilling scored his second of the season with a power play marker at the 16:57 mark of the same frame to knot the score at 1-1.
Both teams fired seven shots on goal in the first period, and the same goaltenders that played the previous night stopped six of seven in the opening 20.
For the second game in a row, neither team was able to light the lamp in the second period, leaving the game tied after 40.
Just over five minutes into the period, Charlotte’s Andrew Miller potted his first of the season, breaking the tie and giving the Checkers their second lead of the game.
Charlotte’s defense was giving Rockford’s forwards fits through both games, and they really locked down Rockford’s offense, limiting them to a season-low two third period shots and a low 14 in the entire game.
On Sunday, the IceHogs headed across to Iowa for their first meeting of the season against the Wild.
Rockford came out firing, putting the same amount of shots on goal in the first period of play as they did the entire previous game against Charlotte. However, it was Iowa getting the only goal of the period, scored by familiar face, although this time suited up for the Iowa Wild – Teemu Pulkkinen scored a power play goal just seven seconds into their first man-advantage, giving Iowa the 1-0 lead at the end of the period.
Yet again a scoreless second put Rockford behind going into the third at 1-0.
With 5:09 remaining in regulation, on their 45th shot of the game, Rockford finally cracked the scoreboard and tied the game at 1-1, with another defenseman-scored goal by Schilling. The goal ended Rockford’s 5-on-5 goalless streak at 188 minutes of play.
The IceHogs were unable to tally the go-ahead goal, so the game was headed to overtime. In the first three periods Rockford outshot Iowa 48-20, which also included 20 third period shots.
An overtime breakaway opportunity at 1:36 was converted by Grayson Downing to give Iowa the 2-1 overtime win.
Rockford will once again face the rigors of a three-in-three this week, their third of the season, starting with a Friday game on the road against the Grand Rapids Griffins.
The ‘Hogs turn around on Saturday to play host to the Charlotte Checkers before ending the weekend with a 4:00 game against the Ontario Reign.
Pictured: Rockford IceHogs defenseman Cameron Schilling provided a spark for the IceHogs this weekend, scoring the game-tying goal during Sunday’s game against Iowa. Schilling also scored the only goal in Thursday’s 2-1 loss to the Charlotte Checkers. Photos from this and other Rockford IceHogs games can be seen on Todd’s website at reicherstudios.com/Sports/HockeyPhotos, or on his facebook page, Facebook.com/ReicherStudios.