The Rockford IceHogs (9-15-1-0) fell to the Grand Rapids Griffins (12-7-3-0) in a defensive-oriented game on Wednesday night in Michigan.
The first period began with what seemed to be the beginning of a long night when Patrick Curry netted a goal on the first shot of the game under the pad of Cale Morris. The tally came just two minutes in and put the Hogs on their heels.
A great response came, though, when Cody Franson and Dylan McLaughlin deployed their skill. The pair played a little catch in the offensive zone before McLaughlin snapped home the game-tying goal on Rockford’s second shot of the game. Grand Rapids answered back, though, just before the period came to a close.
The play began with Isaak Phillips getting twisted up in the neutral zone, which led to a two-on-one for the Griffins that ended with their leading goal scorer, Riley Barber, finishing the go-ahead goal. Both clubs played more than ideal defense, with the period ending with eight total shots from both teams. Totals were 6-2 in favor of the Griffins. It was the smallest shot total of the season for the ‘Hogs, who despite a lack of ability to power through their opponent’s defense, found themselves right in the game.
In the middle frame, both teams opened up a bit as far as defense goes, but no goals were found. Rockford had a few high-grade scoring opportunities on the sticks of DJ Busdeker and Chris Wilkie, but Kevin Boyle stood tall for the Griffins. Morris matched his play at the other end of the ice, stopping all five shots he saw. Through 40 minutes, the score remained 2-1 home team. Shots remained in favor of Grand Rapids too, 11-10.
The IceHogs saw a change in the third between the pipes. Head Coach Derek King elected to go with Ivan Nalimov for the final 20 minutes. There was no visual reason for Morris to be out, but he sat on the bench for the final frame. After the Hogs killed off a Reese Johnson penalty that occurred in the second, he was sprung on a partial break, but his shot missed the net.
Later, Mitchell Fossier was on a break of his own and was the victim of an infraction, awarding him a penalty shot. As he approached Boyle, he slowed up and snapped a shot past the Griffins’ net minder to tie the game at 2-2.
Unfortunately for Rockford, the tied game didn’t last long. Grand Rapids retook the lead when Gregor MacLeod fired one from downtown that squeaked by Nalimov to light the lamp. The 3-2 score was in danger of increasing when Grand Rapids was awarded a penalty shot of their own, but Nalimov stopped the shot that would have made it a two-goal game.
Despite the IceHogs’ effort to tie the game, time expired, handing the visitors their 15th loss of the season. Shot totals were officially 22-21 in favor of Rockford, one of their lower totals of the year.
Rockford’s next contest is with these same Grand Rapids Griffins on Saturday night at 6:00 PM CDT.