By Todd Reicher
It has been quite some time since the Rockford IceHogs had seen the win column, but Rockford managed to snag two wins in two games to highlight week 10.
Rockford’s first of two games was on Saturday, December 17 at the BMO against the Manitoba Moose.
Manitoba got on the board first, exactly 10 minutes into the period, when Jimmy Lodge scored on Mac Carruth to give the Moose their first lead of the game.
Tanner Kero managed to even up the score at 1-1 less than four minutes later, tallying his fifth goal on the season with a power play marker.
Just 1:27 later it was Rockford taking their first lead of the game when Luke Johnson scored his second of the season. Ville Pokka was credited with the primary assists on both goals.
After a scoreless second period, and only one penalty to boot, Nick Schmaltz scored a shorthanded, unassisted goal at 5:47 to give Rockford a big 3-1 lead.
For the second time in the game, Rockford would score goals in succession within 90 seconds of each other as Mark McNeill potted his fifth of the season, assisted by Kero and Erik Gustafsson, to put Rockford up 4-1 late in the game.
The Moose mounted a comeback when Brendan Lemieux scored his fourth of the year with 2:27 left in the game to pull the Moose to within two goals.
Rockford would hold on for the victory as a fight and some unsportsmanlike conduct penalties were handed out at the end of the contest. P.C. Labrie dropped the gloves with the aforementioned Lemieux and Viktor Svedberg had words with Brenden Kichton at the buzzer sounded.
The following afternoon Rockford headed to Chicago to face the Wolves, who have played tough against Rockford this season.
Chicago’s Jordan Caron would get the scoring started early with a goal 121 seconds into the game.
The Wolves would score again on their second power play chance of the evening with Vince Dunn scoring his fourth of the season.
Rockford would come up empty despite earning three power play chances in the first 20 minutes, which did not include two additional penalties on Chicago that were called at the end of the first.
The ‘Hogs were unable to take advantage of over three minutes of 5-on-3 time as the Wolves held on to a 2-0 lead midway through the contest.
Carl Dahstrom was called for tripping just shy of the halfway point of the game, giving Chicago their fourth chance of the game. Rockford would swing the tide of the advantage when Kyle Baun scored Rockford’s second shorthanded goal in as many games, assisted by Mark McNeill at 10:07 to get the ‘Hogs on the scoresheet.
Chicago thrust a dagger into Rockford’s well-played second period with 32 seconds left in the period as Wade Megan scored his team-leading 12th goal of the season to put Chicago up 3-1.
Rockford poured on the pressure, firing shots from all angles at Jordan Binnington, but the netminder was unable to stop a Martin Lundberg shot at 9:02 of the period to pull Rockford within one.
When it looked like the late Chicago goal from the second period would haunt the IceHogs, Kero became the hero, scoring a goal with six seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game up at 3-3.
It had been since March of 2016 since Rockford had won a game when trailing going into the third period, but the ‘Hogs put an end to that streak. After a scoreless overtime session, Spencer Abbott used his fake backhand-to-forehand shootout move to solve Binnington in the first round.
Carruth, getting his second straight start, stopped all three Chicago shooters to seal Rockford’s come-from-behind win, 4-3 in Rosemont.
Due to the holiday, Rockford will only play one game this week – a home rematch against the Chicago Wolves on Wednesday. The IceHogs will resume action on Monday, December 26 at Iowa against the Wild, then turn around to come back home and face the Wolves again on Wednesday, December 28.