Rockford, Ill. – It was an up-and-down affair in Rockford on Wednesday night at the BMO Harris Bank Center with four lead changes and goals coming in all different ways, but in the end the Peoria Rivermen would outlast the IceHogs.
The rollercoaster scoring picked-up in the third with Rockford down 3-2. Rookie winger Brandon Saad chipped in a Marcus Kruger feed five minutes into the period to tie the game at 3-3. Martin St. Pierre notched his team-leading eighth assist of the season on the play.
Midway through the frame, Peoria’s Phil McRae pushed the Rivermen back into the lead when he ripped in a TJ Hensick pass for his first goal of the campaign.
Yet again, the IceHogs responded as Jeremy Morin tied it at 4-4. Ben Smith wristed a puck that Jake Allen knocked down, but Morin was on the door step to tap the puck into the net at 14:54 in the third. Brandon Pirri also helped on the play for his sixth assist on the year and team-leading 12th point.
With the score knotted at four, the Rivermen pulled away just two minutes later when Anthony Peluso rebounded a Derek Nesbitt shot past Carter Hutton to give Peoria their third and final lead of the game, 5-4.
Rockford outshot Peoria 44-25 in the game, but Allen turned away 40 shots, including nine in the second period, to help snap the Rivermen’s seven-game winless streak.
Just over four minutes into the contest the Rivermen received their first power play of the game, but it was the IceHogs who took advantage and knocked in the game’s first goal. St. Pierre swiped the puck away in the neutral zone and fired a shot upstairs on Allen that found its way to the back of the net at the 4:46 mark of the first period.
Peoria responded on their next man advantage to tie the game at one a piece. Mark Cundari’s shot was tipped by Jaden Schwarz and squeaked by Hutton to tie it up at 1-1 at the 11:52 mark in the opening stanza.
Later in the frame, Hensick gave the Rivermen their first lead of the night. Ian Cole skated around the IceHogs defense on an odd man rush and dished pass for Hensick to slap in at 16:13 to make the score 2-1.
Then, with Peoria on a power play it was the IceHogs taking advantage with their second goal of the night, both shorthanded. Peter LeBlanc picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone, skated in towards the Peoria goal and rifled a shot past Allen to tie the game at 2-2 at 7:58 in the middle frame.
The Rivermen regained a one goal advantage at the 13:53 mark in the middle period. Derek Nesbitt blasted a shot from the faceoff circle with help from Hensick to put the Rivermen up 3-2.
The Hogs look to get back on track Friday night against Houston, after dropping three-straight to Midwest Division teams.
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