The end of week seven was going to be a challenge for the IceHogs as they traveled down to Charlotte for two games against the division leading Checkers. They needed to at least grab some points in the Tar Heel State before coming back to the BMO Harris Bank Center for week eight on Wednesday to start a season long five game homestand, which could be a turning point in their season.
Friday, November 18 at Charlotte – Friday’s tilt started off pretty rocky for the Hogs. The Checkers dominated the first period, where most of the time was spent down in the Rockford zone. Due to that, Charlotte outshot them 21-7 in the period. Alec Richards, who started in net for the Hogs, stood strong and stopped every shot. Rostislav Olesz, in his first game in a Hogs sweater, scored 1:11 into the second period, on a power play, to give Rockford the 1-0 lead. Michal Jordan answered the bell for Charlotte at the 12:21 mark and tied the game with his third goal of the season, and his second against the Hogs. 4:25 later, Andrew Shaw also tallied his third of the year to give the Hogs their lead back. Rockford held onto this lead until late in the third. At 16:23, Zac Dalpe, back from being recalled to the Hurricanes, tied it up with his first of the season. The game went into overtime, and then a shootout. Richards stopped Dalpe, Chris Terry, and Matthew Pistilli and Olesz, Brian Connelly, and Brett McLean scored on Checkers goalie Justin Peters to give the Hogs the 3-2 win.
-Brandon Pirri was the lone shooter for the Hogs not to convert in the shootout and Drayson Bowman was the only one to score in the shootout for the Checkers. That all happened in the second round.
-Charlotte outshot Rockford 8-2 in overtime. They outshot Rockford 50-33 in the game as a whole.
-Richards’ 48 saves were the most in a single AHL game this season so far.
-The Hogs went 2-4 on the power play. The Checkers went 0-4.
-Shaw and Joe Lavin each had a team high five shots on goal.
-The scratches for Rockford were Kyle Beach (shoulder), Byron Froese, and Ben Youds (healthy).
Sunday, November 20 at Charlotte – The second game on this weekend set in Charlotte was much different than the first. The shots in the first period were much more normal, 11-8 in Rockford’s favor, and Peter LeBlanc got the Hogs on the board first at the 9:21 mark of the period. Chris Murray tied it up at 11:40 while the Checkers were on a power play. Jon Matsumoto gave Charlotte their first lead on the weekend 5:18 later with his seventh goal on the campaign. Jimmy Hayes gave the Hogs some momentum ten seconds before the end of the period as he tied things up at two with his third goal of the year and second against Charlotte. Chris Durno gave Charlotte the lead back in the second and Pistilli made it a two goal lead at 3:07 of the third period. Olesz made things interesting as he closed the gap to 4-3 at 11:18, but the Checkers held on for the victory.
-Rockford outshot Charlotte 37-29.
-The Hogs went 0-5 on the power play and the Checkers went 1-6.
-Pirri and Hayes each had five shots on goal.
-With an assist on LeBlanc’s goal, Rob Klinkhammer registered his first point since October 9th against Peoria.
-Richards started in net for the second straight game, but was pulled in favor of Alexander Salak after Pistilli’s third period goal.
-The Rockford scratches were the same as Friday’s game.
Wednesday, November 23 vs San Antonio – Starting with this tilt against the Rampage, the Hogs really needed to start winning games on home ice since it was the start of their five game homestand and 11 of their next 16 games, including Wednesday’s matchup, will be at the BMO. To try and change their luck, the whole team didn’t wear their helmets during warmups. It apparently worked. 4:12 in, Pirri gave the Hogs a 1-0 lead. Captain Brandon Segal tipped in McLean’s shot from just above the left circle on the power play to make it 2-0 at 16:42. David Gilbert registered his first goal of the season at 4:46 of the second period to make it 3-0. San Antonio closed the gap to within one before the period ended with tallies from Evan Barlow and David Marshall. They then tied it up early in the third on Greg Rallo’s fifth goal of the season. 1:47 later, Pirri regained the lead for the Hogs with a flukey goal that rose high up in the air, then came down and rolled across the goal line. Olesz added to the lead with his third goal in as many games at 13:39. He danced around the Rampage defender, got goaltender Brian Foster down, and backhanded a shot home. Pirri made his big night even bigger as he scored at 14:41 to complete his first professional hat trick. Lavin’s shot from the left side went off of Shaw in front of the net as he provided traffic, and the puck came right to Pirri on Foster’s left. He got his stick on it and put it home to electrify the home crowd and make it 6-3. The Hogs held on for their second home win of 2011-12.
-Rockford outshot San Antonio 40-23.
-The Hogs went 3-8 on the power play. Olesz’s goal and Pirri’s third goal were both 5-on-3 power play goals. San Antonio went 1-2.
-Pirri led the team with seven shots on goal.
-Connelly had four assists.
-Lavin had one of his best games as a professional since joining the team at the tail end of last season. He was in the starting lineup and played with a lot of confidence. It was evident in his stride and the way he handled the puck. He was rewarded with power play time as well.
-The scratches were the same.
-The lines and D pairs from Wednesday were:
Jeremy Morin – McLean – Segal
Shaw – Pirri – Olesz
Philippe Paradis – LeBlanc – Hayes
Brandon Bollig – Gilbert – Klinkhammer
Ryan Stanton – Connelly
Dylan Olsen – Shawn Lalonde
Lavin – Brian Fahey
-Salak started in net.
-On Monday, November 28th, Hog Talk is back. Connelly, Youds, and head coach Ted Dent will be the guests. Tune in to 100.5 NTA FM, online at nta.fm, or come on out to Granite City Food and Brewery to catch the show.
-On Black Friday, November 25th, from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., the IceHogs are offering a deal where fans can buy three ticket vouchers, a Hogs hat, foam finger, and water bottle for $30. Fans can still receive this offer after 11, but for $20 more, until 7 p.m. (icehogs.com)
-Friday, November 25 vs Peoria at 7:05
-Saturday, November 26 vs Oklahoma City at 7:05