By Chris Block
A complete 60-minute effort was all the IceHogs needed to defeat second-place Milwaukee on Saturday night.
Rockford improved their season record to 11-14-1-2 on goals from Pete Leblanc, Brandon Bollig and two from the team’s leading scorer, Brandon Pirri.
Rockford’s power play entered Saturday night’s game having scored just 3 times in its past 40 chances. Against the Milwaukee Admirals, the IceHogs power play scored 3 times on 5 chances Saturday. Two of those goals came off the stick of Brandon Pirri, the other was set up by Pirri.
“I thought our power play really helped us out tonight,” head coach Ted Dent said after a week of working with that unit in practices. “We finally figured that out.”
Pete Leblanc capitalized on an early power play opportunity when he snuck into the low slot and chipped a feed from Brandon Pirri past Milwaukee Admirals starter Jeremy Smith. Ben Smith was in front of the net disturbing Smith’s vision as well on the play, putting the Hogs up 1-0 at 10:35 of the opening period. The assist marked Pirri’s 50th professional helper (49 AHL, 1 NHL)
Two minutes later, after failing to convert on a second power play, Brett McLean was called for roughing, giving Milwaukee its first chance with the man advantage. The Admirals wasted little time converting as defenseman Jonathan Blum whizzed a shot from the left point past Carter Hutton’s glove to tie the game at 1-1. Admirals forward Ryan Thang was in front battling for position with Joe Lavin, and Hutton was late reacting to Blum’s shot.