Staying Alive: IceHogs outlast Stars, close playoff gap
CEDAR PARK, Texas — The Rockford IceHogs escaped the H-E-B Center with a 4-3 shootout win over the Texas Stars Saturday to come within three standings points from a berth in the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs.
Tyler Sikura dove over the goaltender to net the equalizing tally and force overtime, and Jacob Nilsson scored in the fifth round of the shootout to seal the win.
With the Hogs trailing by a goal and just six minutes remaining in regulation, Henri Jokiharju blasted a shot on Jake Oettinger. The goaltender appeared to have swallowed the attempt, but as the puck trickled between his legs, Sikura dove and tapped the puck in the net while in mid-air.
Peter Holland matched Colton Hargrove’s tally during the first three rounds of the shootout to force sudden death, and Nilsson backhanded a slick shot past Oettinger to lift Rockford over Texas.
The two teams originally swapped goals in the first two periods to remain deadlocked through most of the contest. Luke Johnson cashed in on a gorgeous feed in front of the net from Reese Johnson in the first period, and Holland tipped in a shot from Matthew Highmore in the second frame.
Holland extended his point streak to five straight games with his goal, while Reese Johnson tallied his first pro point with the primary helper on Luke Johnson’s marker.
Anton Forsberg earned the win with 32 saves on 35 shots. His counterpart, rookie Oettinger, extended his unbeaten streak in regulation to each of his first three AHL starts with the shootout loss.
With three games remaining, Rockford is five points in back of a potential playoff berth in the Central Division.
Next Home Game
The IceHogs host their regular season home finale Sunday, April 14, against the Milwaukee Admirals. The contest is fan appreciation night, and the first 2,500 fans receive a free team photo, courtesy of American Solutions for Business. Puck drop is at 6 p.m. R.