Rockford IceHogs offense is clicking on all cylinders right now. For the second straight Friday, the IceHogs offense put up record numbers as this time around they blew out the San Antonio Rampage 9-4 at the AT&T Center.
The nine goals is a single-game record for Rockford and the win kept the club in stride with the Milwaukee Admirals for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Rockford concludes the regular season tomorrow night while the Admirals still have two games remaining.
Rockford tallied on their first shot on goal Friday. Jeremy Morin hit Jimmy Hayes with a backdoor pass and the winger flipped in his 24th goal of the season at 3:12.
San Antonio responded 36-seconds later to tie the game at 1-1. Jack Combs cleaned up a rebound from a John Rheault shot for his 15th tally of the season at 3:46. The Rampage kept the pressure up and grabbed a 2-1 lead when Jared Gomes buried a Combs centering pass at 9:42.
But like San Antonio, Rockford bounced right back on the bump-up shift. Brad Mills beat Dov Grumet-Morris in transition at 9:59 for his seventh goal on the campaign, set up by Rostislav Olesz and Brandon Pirri.
A power play gave Rockford an opportunity to take the lead and they seized it. Ben Smith picked up a Morin rebound and tucked his 24th marker behind Grumet-Morris at 14:29. Hayes had a chance to make it a two goal game with a penalty shot attempt, but was denied by Grumet-Morris at 18:03.
Smith struck again in the second period to extend the Hogs lead to 4-2. Klas Dahlbeck's initial shot was blocked down, but Smith followed with his second goal of the game, this one at 4:58 of the second.
Combs was cherry picking at the Rockford blueline later in the frame and was hit with a Zach Miskovic pass for a breakaway goal at 10:42 to reduce the Hogs lead to a goal. Just 36-seconds later, Rockford restored their two-goal lead. Brandon Svendsen potted his fifth goal of the season in transition off of a Maxime Sauve pass at 11:16.
The offensive affair continued as San Antonio solved Karlsson again at 12:32. Miskovic's slapshot from the right point was tipped over Karlsson's shoulder and in off of an IceHogs stick to make it 5-4 at the second intermission.
In the third period, two early goals broke the game open for the IceHogs. Hayes fired home his second goal of the night at 4:46 before Morin made it 7-4 Rockford at 6:33.
Trying to get back into the game later in the third, San Antonio pulled Grumet-Morris, but Pirri dumped his 22nd goal into an empty Rampage cage at 14:48. Sauve put the finishing touches on the record setting night when he flipped home his 11th tally on the year, and first with Rockford, at 15:06.
That might be because the team has been in postseason mode for nearly a month now and the their playoff hopes come down to their two final games in Texas. The IceHogs open the final weekend of the 2012-13 regular season tonight at the AT&T Center in San Antonio against the Rampage at 7:30 p.m.
To watch tonight's road tilt, tune into Antenna TV 23.2, Comcast Cable channel-436, Charter Cable channel-970 or Mediacom channel-101. Fans can also watch online or listen to the free audio web stream through AHLlive.com.
Entering play on Friday, Rockford is tied with the Milwaukee Admirals for the eighth and final playoff spot in the AHL's Western Conference. Milwaukee still has a game in hand on the Hogs as the Ads will play three-games in three nights to close out the season.
Rockford has won six of their last seven contests, but might need two more wins to close out the regular season to qualify for the Calder Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2010. In 29 games since Feb. 5, Rockford is 20-8-1-0 (.707).
The goaltending duties will likely fall on Henrik Karlsson this weekend with Carter Hutton on recall to the Chicago Blackhawks. Over his last eight starts, Karlsson is 6-1-1-0. The Swedish backstop made his IceHogs debut in San Antonio back on Feb. 1, but was saddled with a 1-0 loss after making 18 saves.
In three games with the Rampage this season, Rockford is 2-1-0-0 with both victories coming on home ice at the BMO Harris Bank Center. The games have been low scoring, however, as Rockford has managed just five goals against the Rampage while allowing three.
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