Rockford IceHogs Fall Short In OT At Milwaukee

Rockford IceHogs defender Ville Pokka (29) skates the puck around a Milwaukee Admirals player on Friday (Photo: Scott Paulus)
Rockford IceHogs defender Ville Pokka (29) skates the puck around a Milwaukee Admirals player on Friday (Photo: Scott Paulus) /

It was a wild game for both the Milwaukee Admirals and Rockford IceHogs on Friday night in Milwaukee as the Admirals were able to make a comeback, powered by a hat trick from Frederick Gaudreau, and beat the IceHogs in overtime, 4-3.

IceHogs off to slow start

Playing on the road is obviously something that is not new to anyone on the professional level of sports. But the IceHogs had a bit of catching up to do once the puck dropped in Milwaukee on Friday night. The Admirals were all over Micahel Leighton and the IceHogs early on, outshooting them at one point in the opening period 8-1.

A few early penalties didn’t help the IceHogs’ cause, and they would pay for the sluggish start as Gaudreau would open the scoring just before the midway point of the first period. The early goal would mean Leighton, who is tied for the most shutouts in an AHL career, would have to wait for another opportunity to break the 57-year-old record.

Miraculously, the IceHogs were able to gain some momentum toward the end of the period, eventually ending the first 20 minutes with a 12-11 shot advantage.

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Momentum swings in the second

Once the second period was underway, the offensive momentum and chances swung from the Admirals’ side of the ice to the IceHogs’ side. Two quick goals from IceHogs captain Jake Dowell and Mark McNeill got the IceHogs on the board and then in the lead with more than half of the second period to play.

“I thought we got some kills done, got better at the end of the first and into the second, and just stuck with it,” IceHogs head coach Ted Dent said of his team’s effort at the midway point of the game, adding, “It was a good game overall, I thought.”

Cameron Schilling would add a third IceHogs goal to extend the lead to 3-1 and it looked as if Rockford would have three unanswered goals to build on heading into the third, but Gaudreau had other plans. With under three minutes to play in the middle period, Gaudreau would net his second of the night, giving the Admirals life heading into the third period, but the IceHogs held on to a 3-2 lead.

Late-game heroics doom Rockford

For 19 minutes of the third period, the IceHogs seemed content with holding the lead and containing the puck to block shots and preserve the one-goal advantage. Two powerplay opportunities would do nothing more than clear time off of the clock in Rockford’s favor, and it would take until one minute remained in the period before the Admirals pulled goalie Marek Mazanec for their last-ditch effort to tie the game.

That’s when, as if right on cue, Gaudreau would complete the hat trick and tie the game 3-3. Forty-seven more seconds ran off the clock, and the contest would need a 3-on-3 overtime period.

Both Milwaukee and Rockford had equally decent chances in the overtime session to end the game, but ultimately Admirals forward Kevin Fiala would get a breakaway chance and put the winner past Leighton to steal two points in the win, and send the IceHogs home with the pity point.

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NHL Trade deadline looming

It’s worth noting that there were members of the Winnipeg Jets organization seen at the game Friday night. With the NHL trade deadline coming up at the end of the month and rumors swirling that Jets captain and former Chicago Blackhawk Andrew Ladd may be in the mix to make a return to Chicago, the IceHogs could have displayed some prospect worth Friday night in the midst of a possible Ladd trade.

All speculation, of course.

After the game, Dent said of the upcoming trade deadline, “Things always happen, and being in Rockford here there always seems to be transactions at the deadline. More often than not we lose guys, rather than gain guys. It’s part of being in this organization and for this team.H opefully we don’t lose too may guys, if there are trades.”