By Jim Hagerty
BMO HARRIS BANK CENTER — It took a goal from Anthony Louis and three saves by Collin Delia in the shootout for the Rockford IceHogs to clip the Cleveland Monsters 4-3 here Saturday.
The IceHogs fell behind early in the contest, and trailed 2-0 for most of the first period. Tomas Jurco kept them in the game, answering with a goal before time ran out, sending Rockford into the first intermission down by only a goal.
Matthew Highmore scored his 16th goal of the season just 15 seconds into the middle frame to knot the score. Cleveland continued to battle, jumping in front again until Tyler Sikura potted the Rockford equalizer that forced overtime.
Both teams had chances to win in the extra period as Delia and Cleveland goaltender Joonas Korpisalo thwarted solid 3-on-3 rushes. But it was Louis who provided the eventual game winner on a glove-side wrist shot in the shootout.
Delia earned his second AHL win with a career-high 29 saves.
“I wasn’t a big fan of our first period,” coach Jeremy Colliton said. “The second was good and the third. But, it was a battle. (The Monsters) were much better tonight than they were (here) Tuesday.”
Rockford is now 5-1 in shootouts this season.
Colliton said his young team is still looking for more goals though. The club continues to win a lot of 1-0 and 2-1 games, but often falls short when opponents score three, four and five times, the case in Grand Rapids Friday when the ‘Hogs were outpaced 5-3.
“It’s tough,” he said. “We’ve got to find a way to get more points.”
Sunday will be as tough, if not tougher than Saturday, as the Milwaukee Admirals come to town for Rockford’s third game in as many days. But winning Saturday gave the IceHogs an opportunity to grab four points in the standings after falling from second to fifth place in the Central Division with their recent four-game skid.
“We haven’t seen them in awhile,” Colliton said of when Rockford tangled with Milwaukee on Nov. 11, a 5-2 IceHogs road win. “I liked what we did tonight from our guys. They did what they had to do to give us a chance to win. And we’re going to need that tomorrow.”
The IceHogs are currently 2-3 against Milwaukee.
Next Home Game: The first 2,500 fans into the BMO Harris Bank Center Sunday will receive a free pack of IceHogs player cards, courtesy of Rockford Register Star, with select packs containing prizes like Blackhawks tickets, an autographed stick and more. Tickets can be purchased at IceHogs.com, by calling 815-968-5222 or stopping at the BMO Harris Bank Center Box Office. Puck drop is at 4 p.m. R.