The Rockford IceHogs (1-5-1-0) defeated the Cleveland Monsters 3-2 to earn their first win of the season on Tuesday night.
Blackhawks’ prospect Cale Morris made his AHL debut in between the pipes for the IceHogs opposite Veini Vehvilainen for Cleveland. Both goalies were perfect in the first as the Monsters poured 13 shots on Morris. Rockford had six shots of their own. The IceHogs received a chance on the man advantage after Trey Fix-Wolansky went to the box for a minor penalty, but the Hogs power play unit couldn’t light the lamp. Another slowish start for Rockford, but a scoreless frame yielded no major complaints after 20 minutes.
Both clubs found the back of the net in the middle frame. Early in the period on the power play, Tyler Sikura lit the lamp with assists from Dillon Simpson and Nathan Gerbe to give the Monsters a 1-0 lead. It was a tough break for Rockford as the Sikura shot deflected off of Cole Moberg in front of Morris.
With just under five minutes to go, the IceHogs evened the score off of an offensive zone face-off. Captain Garrett Mitchell won the draw back to Isaak Phillips and Evan Barratt pounded home the rebound for his first professional goal. As the period was ending, John Quenneville found himself tangled up with a Cleveland skater, which resulted in not only a pair of five-minute majors, but an extra roughing call handed to Quenneville. Shots were 24-17 visitors after two.
Rockford found their swagger in the third period, controlling most of the action until Cleveland caught a bit of a break. With just over seven minutes remaining, Evan Polei trickled home the Monsters’ second goal of the game to give his team a temporary one-goal lead. Justin Scott was credited with the helper. The IceHogs answered back with just over three minutes to go. While in the offensive zone, Tim Soderlund found Andrei Altybarmakyan, who stormed the front of the net from the corner and pounded home the game-tying goal. Rockford had another punch to give with 93 seconds left. After the puck was dumped in and pursued by Barratt, the Penn State Alumn found Phillips at the top of the left circle. Phillips let it fly to push the Hogs in front of Cleveland 3-2.
The third period explosion gave the IceHogs their first victory of the season. It was really nice to see the team fight back after the soft goal given up. If tonight is any sign of things to come, there is definitely exciting hockey to be played. The club will get a few days off before taking on these same Cleveland Monsters on Saturday and Sunday in Ohio. Puck drop is set for 6:00 PM CST for Saturday’s tilt.
Cool & Tough Awards
After each IceHogs win, Cool & Tough Award(s) will be handed out to the most deserving party or parties who are, well, cool and tough. Tonight’s first recipient is goaltender Cale Morris for getting his first professional win while stopping 35 Monsters shots. The other award goes to Isaak Phillips, who netted the game-winning goal late in the third period.