The Rockford IceHogs (1-6-1-0) fell to the Cleveland Monsters (2-3-1-0) on Saturday despite a multi-point performance from Wyatt Kalynuk.
Just three minutes into the game, the Monsters capitalized on an IceHogs mishap. With Collin Delia's stick broken on a previous play, Nick Lappin fired one that went bar down to make it 1-0 Cleveland. Carson Meyer earned the assist on the tally. Just four minutes later, Cleveland doubled their lead when Brett Gallant lit the lamp from Meyer and Connor McDonald. Rockford would storm back on the shot chart but couldn't cross the goal line as Cleveland carried a two-goal lead into the first intermission. Shots were 10-9 home team.
The IceHogs showed some more life around the six-minute mark. Wyatt Kalynuk and Cody Franson set up MacKenzie Entwistle on a rebound chance that found the back of the net to get Rockford on the board and cut the deficit in half at 2-1
Later, just as the IceHogs' power play was ending, Zach Jordan was quick to get out of the box and fired one by Delia to make it 3-1 Monsters. Evan Polei and Wyatt Newpower were credited with the helpers. Around the 18-minute mark, the Monsters grabbed another goal. Tyler Sikura jammed home the team's fourth tally from McDonald and Nathan Gerbe to extend the home squad's lead to 4-1.
Counter punches were thrown in the final frame. It began with Matej Chalupa lighting the lamp from Kalynuk and Dylan McLaughlin to make it 4-2 Monsters. Shortly after, with Alec Regula in the box for a tripping minor, Trey Fix-Wolansky blazed a shot past Delia from Gavin Bayreuther and Gerbe for Cleveland's fifth goal of the night. With just under 15 minutes left, Regula redeemed himself with a backhand tally from Nicolas Beaudin to pull the Hogs within a pair again at 5-3. As the game clock showed over five minutes remaining, Isaak Phillips was sitting for a minor penalty when Fix-Wolansky got his second of the period. The goal assisted by Meyer and Sikura made it 6-3 Cleveland.
Once again, a slow start led to a rough finish for the IceHogs. The two-goal first period from Cleveland set the tone for the rest of the night and caused Rockford to have to make up ground for 45 minutes of hockey. Credit the Monsters, though, who were clicking on almost every cylinder through 60. Wyatt Kalynuk and Cody Franson showed no lapse in chemistry after Kalynuk's return from the taxi squad, which is a positive, as was Entwistle finding the scoresheet again.
A quick turnaround has these two clubs battling it out one more time for the season on Sunday from Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.