By Chris Block
Twenty four hours after surrendering a two-goal lead and losing in Hamilton, the Rockford IceHogs performed a comeback of their own, scoring three unanswered goals to defeat the Toronto Marlies, 3-2 before a crowd of 4,184 fans at Ricoh Coliseum.
Rockford was down 2-0 midway through the game when a Drew Leblanc offensive zone penalty put the IceHogs penalty killers on a crucial kill. That unit was up to the task and the momentum gained from that stand carried over into back-to-back tallies from Alex and Terry Broadhurst to tie the game before the second period expired.
Jeremy Morin then scored late in the third period to give the IceHogs a lead they would not relinquish.
The IceHogs were skating in their league-leading 7th road game in 8 overall contests on Wednesday. Rockford is looking ahead to playing four of their next five games on home ice, but not before Antti Raanta led the IceHogs onto the Ricoh Coliseum ice for Rockford’s lone visit to the GTA on the 2013-14 campaign.
Toronto struck first when Greg McKegg potted his second goal of the season. The Marlies were able to able to capitalize after Rockford had only partially changed some personnel. Garret Ross skated to the bench to allow Terry Broadhurst to hop on. Facing an even-numbered attack, Brad Winchester attempted to step up on Toronto’s Spencer Abbott as he sped towards the IceHogs’ blue line. Seeing this, Broadhurst got caught anticipating a turnover in the neutral zone. But Abbott skated by Winchester, gained Rockford’s zone along the right side and fired a pass across the top of the zone to McKegg, who was left unaccounted for. McKegg skated to the left face off dot and unleashed a wrist shot that beat Raanta off the far side post and in to give the Marlies a 1-0 lead at 4:18 of the opening period.
Rockford had what could have been a tying goal waved off seven minutes later. Byron Froese blocked a Stuart Percy shot down just inside the IceHogs zone. The puck re-directed behind Percy and Froese was off to the races. Percy did a good job in pursuit of Froese but took the IceHogs third-year forward down in Toronto’s end as Froese approached Drew MacIntyre from the right circle. Percy tripped Froese down face-first, sending him sliding into MacIntyre. No Marlies touched the puck before Alex Broadhurst swooped in and shot the puck into the net with MacIntyre lying on top of Froese. But referee Jean-Phillipe Sylvain skated into the zone, blew the play dead, ruled no-goal and no penalty shot. The IceHogs did get a power play that MacIntyre was forced to make a few nice stops on to hold his team’s one goal advantage.
With five minutes left in the first, Phillip Danault stole a Toronto puck inside the IceHogs zone and then raced down toward the Toronto goal. Danault gained the zone and set up Drew Leblanc beautifully near the goal, but his attempt was stuffed at the right post by MacIntyre.
Alex Broadhurst committed a hooking penalty deep in the Toronto zone with 2:11 to go in the first. The Marlies spent much of their power play time looking to set up one-timers that didn’t materialize and the first period ended with IceHogs trailing 1-0.
Toronto paced much of the action over the first eight minutes of the second period.
At 8:23 of the frame, Carter Ashton notched his second goal of the campaign when he cleaned up a Raanta rebound after Ashton’s linemate Spencer Abbott rushed past two IceHogs skaters to the Rockford net. NHL veteran John-Michael Liles picked up the secondary assist. Raanta did a good job to fend off the initial Abbott chance, but he had no chance on Ashton’s rebound try as it sailed over Raanta’s left glove hand into the twine in the upper corner.
Drew Leblanc committed a hooking penalty 190 feet from his own net with 8 minutes to go in the second period. Leblanc was hounding John-Michael Liles behind MacIntyre’s net after Jeremy Morin lost an offensive zone faceoff. This time the IceHogs penalty killers did so well that Toronto barely had any zone time during the second minute of its man advantage.
Shortly after Leblanc’s minor expired, Dylan Olsen stood in the way of a Josh Leivo chip-and-chase move. Olsen took possession and put the puck up the wall. Garret Ross tied up a Marlies player – and probably got away with a holding the stick call – as three other Toronto skaters stood flat-footed inside the Rockford zone, watching the struggle. As he held on, Ross used his feet to kick the puck out to Alex Broadhurst, who started the IceHogs rush the other way. He got the puck over to the right side to Adam Clendening, who led the rush the rest of the way. Clendening gained the Toronto line and fed Alex Broadhurst perfectly across to the back side at 14:33 to trim the Marlies’ lead to 2-1. Ross got an assist instead of a penalty, on Alex Broadhurst’s 2nd tally of the season.
Three minutes later, Terry Broadhurst scored to tie the game 2-2. It may or may not have been an intentional play, but after battling off a faceoff deep in the Rockford end, Klas Dahlbeck hoisted a puck up and through the neutral zone, down into the Marlies’ end. Garret Ross hustled down the ice and beat both Toronto defensemen to the puck behind MacIntyre’s goal. Ross quickly settled the puck and dished a backhand pass by MacIntyre, into the slot, to an oncoming Terry Broadhurst. The goal was Terry Broadhurst’s 3rd of the season. Ross and Dahlbeck picked up the helpers.
Rockford spent the final two minutes of the sandwich stanza on their 2nd and final power play of the evening. But the score would remain tied after forty minutes of play. Rockford was outshot 12-4 by Toronto in the middle frame.
48 seconds into the third period, Garret Ross was called for tripping Petter Granberg deep in the Toronto zone. Ross was finishing his check in the corner to MacIntyre’s right. On the follow through, Ross’s right skate got behind Granberg’s legs and the Toronto blue liner went crashing to the ice. The Marlies, however, were once again stonewalled by the IceHogs penalty killers.
The third period was a back-and-forth struggle until Jeremy Morin gave the IceHogs the lead with 5:27 to go in regulation time.
After a television time out, Ted Dent sent Byron Froese out for a faceoff in the Toronto zone against the Marlies’ best faceoff man, Jerred Smithson. Froese won the draw in the left circle back. Morin pounced on it there and quickly fired off a snap shot that beat Drew MacIntyre clean over his left glove hand and the IceHogs gained the 3-2 advantage. Froese got the lone assist on the goal.
Morin’s 4th of the season would stand as the game-winner.
Antti Raanta stopped 22 of 24 shots in the victory. Raanta is now 3-1 on the season with a 2.88 GAA and .903 save percentage.
Rockford has played a league-leading 7 road games and Wednesday’s win has them with a road record of 4-2-1-0 to start the season.
Overall, the IceHogs are 5-2-1-0 and lead the Midwest Division by way of points and margin of games played. Rockford has a +1 goal differential after 8 games.
The IceHogs will fly home early Thursday morning and begin preparations for a set of home games this weekend at the BMO Harris Bank Center in Rockford.
Charlotte visits the BMO on Saturday, for a rare 3pm Saturday afternoon contest.
Then, on Sunday, the Texas Stars visit the BMO at 4pm. Texas sits atop the Western Conference right now. The Stars have allowed just 12 goals in 7 games. However, 4 of those 12 goals were surrendered to Rockford on October 6th in a 4-3 IceHogs victory in Cedar Park, Texas.
–Wednesday’s lines, pairings, scratches & special teams vs. Toronto
37-Terry Broadhurst / 11-Brad Winchester / 19-Jeremy Morin
17-Jimmy Hayes / 14-Drew Leblanc / 16-Brad Mills
26-Garret Ross / 18-Phillip Danault / 28-Mark McNeill
/ 24-Byron Froese / 25-Alex Broadhurst
10-Klas Dahlbeck / 6-Jared Nightingale
3-Dylan Olsen / 2-Adam Clendening
8-Viktor Svedberg / 22-Theo Peckham
31-Raanta, Antti (starter)
33-Simpson, Kent (backup)
Scratches: LW-15-Wade Brookbank… C/W-20-Pat Mullane… C/W-23-Joakim Nordstrom (lower body, minor, day-to-day)…. RW-36-Maxim Shalunov….
Power play I: Morin-Winchester-Hayes with Dahlbeck & Clendening
Power play II: A.Broadhurst-Mills-T.Broadhurst w/ Olsen & McNeill
PK forwards: Mills-McNeill, Danault-Hayes, Morin-Winchester,
—Joakim Nordstrom sat out again with a minor “lower body” injury. Officially he’s listed as day-to-day. Going into this back-to-back in Ontario it was thought he may be able to play against Toronto, but that didn’t happen.
–Jeremy Morin has scored a goal in 3 of the IceHogs last 4 games.
–Rockford committed 3 penalties in the game. All 3 occurred in the Marlies’ zone, behind the Toronto goal line. That’s not good. Though, that’s not to say the IceHogs couldn’t have been called for more penalties. Theo Peckham ran a Marlies player who didn’t have the puck in the final minute but that went uncalled.
–One of the more ridiculous non-calls you’ll ever see came in the third period when Froese was on the receiving end of a two-handed stick-chop from Marlies’ defenseman Korbinian Holzer.
Holzer had taken a spill in front of the Toronto bench, where he was going for a puck as the referee blew the play dead. Then, from his the seat of his pants, Holzer turns and takes a hard two-handed swing with his stick and randomly chops Byron Froese’s forearm as he skates by. Froese was hunched over for some time but did return a few minutes later to win the face off on the Morin game-winner.
–The decision to dress seven defensemen, and short the forwards by a skater in the second game of a back-to-back sure was a strange one. Joe Gleason didn’t play much. If going in one of the defenseman has an injury that potentially could have taken him out of the game at some point, then its understandable. But, there was a point in the second period when the Rockford forwards looked like they didn’t have any steam left in their legs – and it could have been a very long night from then on had the Marlies not got a little too overzealous and given up that odd-man chance that led to the first IceHogs goal. It was the PK unit killing off the Leblanc minor that rejuvenated Rockford, but that goal changed the complexion of the contest. Toronto had dominated the second period and much of the game to that point.
—Brad Mills had been playing his natural center position since Brandon Pirri’s recall. Mills moved back to wing in this game. Mills essentially returned to his 2012-13 role for this game against the Marlies. He was taking a chunk of the face off draws for Drew Leblanc (as he did for Pirri last season).
Of course, that move, along with Mullane being out of the lineup, forced Brad Winchester to act as center on the Morin line. He did fine but Morin would be better off with Leblanc, Alex Broadhurst, or even Hayes as his center.
–Toronto’s Spencer Abbott has a 5-game assist streak going now. 2 assists for him on Wednesday night. Abbott is fast and can hang onto the puck even at top speed.
—Nice story here on Toronto’s Wade MacLeod, who it was discovered had a brain tumor last season.
–The Marlies visit Rockford on January 20th for a 1pm Monday matinee puck drop.
–Toronto Marlies lines and defense pairings vs Rockford on Wednesday
18-Carter Ashton / 9-Gregg McKegg / 13-Spencer Abbott
29-Jerry D’Amigo / 44-Jerred Smithson / 22-Tyler Biggs
7-Wade MacLeod / 16-Sam Carrick / 14-Josh Leivo
15-David Broll / 21-Andrew Crescenzi / 24-Jamie Devane
10-Stuart Percy / 3-T.J. Brennan
17-John-Michael Liles / 8-Petter Granberg
2-Andrew MacWilliam / 5-Korbinian Holzer
34-Drew MacIntyre (starter)