Tyson Strachan picked the most opportune moment to tally his first goal of the season for the Iowa Wild as he scored in overtime to hand the Rockford IceHogs a 4-3 defeat Saturday night in front of a near capacity crowd at the BMO Harris Bank Center.
A back-and-forth contest saw neither team gain more than a one-goal advantage despite a four-goal second period. Pierre-Cedric Labrie became the second IceHogs player to reach the 20-goal plateau in the overtime loss.
Forward Grayson Downing put the Wild on the board first with his 19th tally of the season just 1:15 in to the contest. Marc Hagel sprang Downing on a breakaway and he snapped one past Drew MacIntyre.
After a sluggish start, Mike Liambas jolted his team with a spirited fight against Iowa’s Kurtis Gabriel. Following the scrap the IceHogs nearly found the equalizer when Steven Michalek denied a drive by David Rundblad on the power play and then stopped Tanner Kero while the teams were skating four aside.
The Hogs kept the pressure and added a little luck to find the equalizer. Defenseman Nolan Valleau tossed a clearing attempt high up in the air from behind the goal line. Labrie chased down bouncing rubber after it hopped away from a Wild defender and slipped it through the five-hole of Michalek to knot the game at 1-1.
Rockford used the back end of a double minor to Scott Sabourin to take the 2-1 advantage in the second. Michalek blocked Rundblad’s initial shot but the rebound kicked straight out to a waiting Ville Pokka and he blasted it to the back of the net at 5:50.
Iowa responded with a pair of strikes in a span of 3:27 to regain the lead. With heavy traffic in front of MacIntyre, a long shot from Gabriel found its way in to tie the game up at 2-2. Then, Dylan Labbe potted his fourth of the season to give the visitors a 3-2 advantage with 4:44 remaining in the second.
After nearly setting up Kyle Cumiskey while down a man earlier in the frame, Mark McNeill came through with a shorthanded goal of his own to lock the game back up at 3-3. Cumiskey chipped the puck out of the IceHogs zone for McNeill to chase down and the IceHogs leading goal scorer raced in and beat Michalek for the club’s second shorthanded strike in as many nights.
The defenses tightened up in the final frame of action, with the best opportunity coming in Iowa’s favor in the final minute of regulation. Colton Beck centered a pass, as time wound down, which found Hagel just feet from the cage, but he couldn’t finish and give the Wild the win in regulation.
Iowa wrapped the game up midway through overtime, though, as Strachan jumped on a rebound and beat MacIntye over his right shoulder with his first goal of the season. The defeat marked the eighth loss for Rockford in their last nine games decided in overtime, but reduced their magic number to five with seven games remaining.
MacIntyre stopped 25-of-29 shots while Michalek turned away 28 of the IceHogs 31 shots he faced. Rockford cashed in on one of their five chances on the power play while holding the Wild off the board on three opportunities.