Rockford, Ill. – The Rockford IceHogs rallied in the final twenty minutes in Tuesday’s game with the Chicago Wolves, only to come up a little short. The IceHogs fell to the Chicago Wolves 3-2 at the BMO Harris Bank Center. The Wolves are off to a 5-0 start; Rockford drops to 0-3-1.
“We didn’t start the game on time. At least we’re fighting back. That’s probably a positive out of this,” said IceHogs coach Derek King.
This is the IceHogs’ third loss to the Wolves in as many tries.
The Wolves quickly went up 1-0 on Anthony Richard‘s quick strike past Hogs goalie Matt Tomkins 1:22 into the game. The scoring play was started by Jeremy Davies hauling in a wayward shot attempt by Rockford’s Cole Moberg. The puck rapidly made its way to Tom Novak, who hit Richard coming into the Hogs zone. Richard finished off a 2-on-1 rush by finding the top right corner of the net.
The IceHogs were nailed with a too many men on the ice infraction midway through the first period. Chicago converted late in the man advantage. Ryan Suzuki did the honors, taking a pass from Richard in the near right circle and one-timing into the open net. The Wolves led 2-0 at the 12:55 mark and took that lead into the first intermission.
Tomkins denied several high-percentage shots from the Wolves in the second period. However, Philip Tomasino got himself open in the slot, taking a pass from David Cotton and driving home his third goal of the season at the 13:32 mark. Rockford came up empty on three power-play chances in the second stanza and went to the locker room down 3-0.
Two goals in the span of 19 seconds midway through the final frame brought the Hogs roaring back into contention. Brad Morrison brought the puck out of the Rockford zone, up the left side, and into the high slot. There, he floated a backhand shot toward net. Just before Wolves goalie Beck Warm could glove the attempt, Chris Wilkie batted it into the net at 7:01 of the third.
On the ensuing faceoff, Wilkie found himself with the puck on his stick just outside the Chicago blue line. He passed to a pinching Issak Phillips, who drove to the net and sent a shot that Warm stopped with his left pad. Phillips, who continued to drive to the net behind his shot, scooped up the rebound and cut the Wolves lead to 3-2 at the 7:20 mark.
The IceHogs kept the pressure on Warm, firing 15 shots on the Chicago rookie in the third period. Despite a frantic push in the final minutes, Rockford was unable to complete the comeback.
“I liked our third period,” King said. “Again, at least we gave ourselves a chance. The message to these guys is you have to play for 60 minutes and not just 35, 40 minutes.”
Warm stopped 37 of 39 shots on the evening to pick up the win. Tomkins kept the Hogs in the contest with several point-blank saves, finished with 33 saves on 36 shots.
Three Stars: Richard (First), Wilkie (Second), Tomasino (Third).
- Rockford skated without captain Garrett Mitchell, who was serving a one-game suspension for a cross-check to the head of Iowa’s Ryan O’Rourke on Saturday.
- The Wolves offense generates a lot of open looks at the net with speed and passing. In contrast to Chicago, Rockford really has to work for its opportunities. The Hogs are going to have to put together a near-perfect defensive effort in order to hang with the Wolves in the eight remaining games they have with Chicago.
- Tomasino led all skaters with seven shots on goal. Chad Krys paced Rockford with six.
- The Hogs attempt to get that first win under their belts Thursday night, when they host Grand Rapids at 6:00 p.m.