ROCKFORD, Ill. – The Rockford IceHogs found themselves without an answer to the red-hot Grand Rapids Griffins Wednesday night. The Griffins have now won five of their last six games after besting Rockford 9-4 at the BMO Harris Bank Center.
The IceHogs fall to a disappointing 1-7-1 on the season despite a pair of goals by Brandon Pirri in his first action for Rockford since being assigned there Wednesday morning. Collin Delia was pulled after giving up seven goals in just 28 minutes of action.
The Griffins out shot Rockford 49-21 on the night, dominating most of the contest. In all, 13 Grand Rapids skaters got into the box score, led by rookie forward Max Humitz. Humitz picked up his first two pro goals to go with an assist in the Grand Rapids win.
Pirri needed less than five minutes to pick up his first tally of the season. The goal came from the right dot on a power play set up by a Dylan McIlrath tripping infraction. Cody Franson got the play started by digging a puck out of a scrum at the left half boards. Pirri struck with a one-timer of Wyatt Kalynuk‘s pass at 4:37 of the first period.
Grand Rapids exploded for 21 shots on goal in the opening twenty, including the next three goals of the contest. Dominik Shine tied the game at the 8:15 mark, getting to the front of the net and redirecting Humitz’s snapshot from the high slot past Delia.
On the same shift, Humitz was on hand to collect a blocked attempt by Joe Hicketts between the circles. Delia was in position but the puck beat him to the stick side at 8:53 of the first for a 2-1 Grand Rapids advantage.
Delia continued to be deluged with vulcanized rubber. The Hogs fell behind 3-1 at the 16:04 mark on a power-play goal by Patrick Curry. The shot came after Troy Loggins snuck a pass through the Rockford defense. Curry gathered in the puck at the bottom of the right circle and sent it into the far corner of the cage.
The Griffins would extend their advantage to 5-1 with goals by Humitz and Tyler Spezia in the first two minutes of the second period. Pirri potted his second goal of the evening, getting a pass from John Quenneville in the slot and five-holing Grand Rapids goalie Kevin Boyle at 3:39 of the second.
After Pirri’s goal cut the lead to 5-2, it was all Grand Rapids for the rest of the middle frame. The Griffins outshot Rockford 21-4 in the second, picking up goals from Riley Barber and Turner Elson to send Delia to the bench in favor of rookie Tom Aubrun.
Grand Rapids welcomed Aubrun to the AHL with goals from Barber and Spezia. Rockford went into the second intermission down 9-2. The Hogs did pick up a power-play goal from Lucas Carlsson 19 seconds into the third period. Chris Wilkie added his fourth goal of the season at the 7:07 mark, but that’s as close as the Hogs got to making this one respectable.
Delia, on a conditioning assignment from the Chicago Blackhawks, surrendered seven goals on 30 shots. Aubrun made stops on 15 of the 17 shots he faced. Meanwhile, Boyle saw just 21 shots come his way, making 17 saves to pick up the win.
Rockford will try and move forward from this defeat. The Hogs play host to the Iowa Wild this weekend, with games on Saturday and Sunday.