Rockford, Ill. – It took five games, but the Rockford IceHogs offense finally came alive and the team picked up their first win of the season as they defeated the Charlotte Checkers 5-4 at the BMO Harris Bank Center on Sunday.
After a slow start to the game by both squads, 58 seconds into the middle frame Marcus Kruger fed a wide open Martin St. Pierre in the slot who buried his first goal of the season to put the Hogs out in front 1-0.
Rockford extended their lead to 2-0 at 7:55 in the second period. Defenseman Ben Youds corralled a puck in the IceHogs defensive zone and found Brandon Pirri at the far blue-line who sniped a long shot past Checkers netminder Justin Peters.
The Checkers began to chip away less than three minutes later as a centering pass from Chris Terry bounced off the leg of Nick Leddy and past Alec Richards to cut the IceHogs lead to 2-1 at the 10:20 mark.
Charlotte got the equalizer 1:10 later to make it a 2-2 game. Brandon Bollig played a puck over the boards for a delay of game penalty and Drayson Bowman capitalized on the power play to tie the score. The goal was Bowman’s third in two nights and his fourth on the young season.
At the 8:59 mark in the third period Jimmy Hayes gave the IceHogs a 3-2 lead after some tic-tac-toe passing from Peter LeBlanc and St. Pierre. It was Hayes’ first of the season, but not his last of the evening.
Less than two minutes later, Charlotte’s power play unit took advantage of a Philippe Paradis tripping penalty to even the score at 3-3. Zach Boychuk snuck one over the glove of Richards with help from Victor Rask and Marc-Andre Gragnani.
With the final seconds of a power play ticking off the clock, Hayes put the Hogs up once again on a pass from Joe Lavin for his second goal of the night. St. Pierre recorded his third point of the evening with a secondary assist as the Hogs took a 4-3 lead at the 14:24 mark.
Brandon Bollig added some needed insurance at the 18:41 mark on a pass from Andrew Shaw behind the net to increase the IceHogs lead to 5-3 as Kruger added an assist, his second of the game.
With less than five seconds remaining, Charlotte’s Zac Dalpe scored to bring the Checkers within one, but time was on the IceHogs’ side as they held on to win 5-4 and picked-up their first victory of season.
Richards finished the night with 23 saves for the Hogs while Peters stopped 36 of 41 shots for the Checkers.