The Rockford IceHogs (9-14-1-0) defeated the Iowa Wild (12-11-4-0) behind a brow-raising performance from a pair of their forwards.
Coming into the game, Rockford was 0-8-1-0 in their last nine games at Wells Fargo Arena. Additionally, their power play was a pitiful 0-for-15 in as many tries. All that would change though, as Ivan Nalimov and Hunter Jones manned the duties between the pipes for their respective teams.
In the first period, the scrappy play carried over from last night, but not before veteran tough guy Cody McLeod tallied his second goal of the year. He pounded home a rebound off of Nalimov’s paddle to give the Wild a 1-0 lead.
No other goals were scored the rest of the period, but that wasn’t disappointing considering the level of physicality. Mitchell Fossier got tangled up with an Iowa defender, and both served roughing minors. Rough stuff after the whistle was superseded by a hit from Evan Barratt on Connor Dewar that sparked multiple fights at the same time. The Wild’s Will Bitten received 17 minutes of penalties which resulted in a ‘Hogs power play.
Iowa had a pair of chances on the man advantage as well. However, the first frame ended with more penalty minutes than shots, which were 17-8 in favor of the home club. Both teams combined for 40 minutes of infractions.
The middle frame was all IceHogs until the final 30 seconds of play. In fact, the period got started with the ‘Hogs outshooting Iowa 6-1. DJ Busdeker put the visitors on the board with a tip-in goal off of a Dylan McLaughlin shot for his fourth goal of the year.
As Rockford kept the pressure on, they took the lead at the 15:51 mark. Carson Gicewicz earned his first professional and AHL point when he assisted, along with Cole Moberg, on a Dmitry Osipov bomb from the point that went bar, goalie, and in to make it 2-1.
As mentioned before, the final half minute was all Wild and they cashed in. As Gabriel Dumont was coming up the ice, he whiffed on a shot attempt that Nalimov reacted to and dropped down. Dumont recovered quickly and snapped home a high shot that tied the game at 2-2 just before the period ended.
In the final period, Rockford grabbed the lead, but not without a fight from the Wild. Four minutes in, McLaughlin and Busdeker combined for his second goal of the night, pounding home what seemed to be a designed rebound play from the far circle, making it 3-2 ‘Hogs early.
Later in the frame, Andrei Altybarmakyan got McLeod to bite on a retaliation penalty that left Iowa shorthanded, and the ‘Hogs made them pay. McLaughlin inked his third point of the night by scoring on the power play, with assists from Cody Franson and MacKenzie Entwistle, to double the visitors’ lead to 4-2.
Iowa answered back in the blink of an eye when Connor Dewar smacked home another rebound, given up by Nalimov, to pull the Wild within a goal. For the rest of the game, Nalimov stood tall. With under a minute to go and an empty net for Iowa, Garrett Mitchell provided the dagger to make it 5-3. It was Mitchell’s second goal in as many games and third on the year.
Despite being outshot, the IceHogs took advantage of their opportunities to grab two points. Rockford also didn’t hesitate, for the second night in a row, to put their nose in the dirty areas when the time came. Iowa, on the other hand, went an abysmal 0-for-6 on the man advantage and continued their statistical reputation of being the most-penalized team in the AHL.
What’s On Tap Next?
Next up for the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate is the Grand Rapids Griffins on Wednesday night. Puck drop from Grand Rapids, Michigan is set for 6:00 PM CDT.