It took a hat trick but the Texas Stars finally got the best of the Rockford IceHogs, spoiling Rockford’s home opener with a 5-2 victory at the BMO Harris Bank Center on Saturday night.
Rockford was riding an 11-game winning streak against the Stars going into Saturday’s contest but Texas forward Drew Shore helped snap the streak as he notched a hat trick to continue his red-hot start to the 2015-16 season. Shore now shows six goals through Texas’ first three tilts.
After exchanging penalties early in the first period, Rockford captured the game’s first tally when they converted on their second man advantage. Ryan Hartman found Mark McNeill in the slot and he blasted a one-timer past Maxime Lagace at 9:17 to put the IceHogs in front 1-0.
Less than a minute later the IceHogs again found themselves with an extra skater after Matej Stransky was whistled for a double high-sticking minor. But this time it was Texas that lit the lamp while short-handed to even the score at 1-1. Shore struck again just 36 seconds later, this time during 4-on-4, when he collected the puck off a faceoff and slid a backhander into the net. The Stars carried the 2-1 lead into the intermission.
Second period proved to be more chippy as two IceHogs found themselves in the penalty box for nearly half of the period. Jake Dowell alone sat for two separate minor penalties, boarding and goaltender interference, occurring within five minutes of each other. Texas doubled their advantage in the frame, as Derek Hulak found himself open in the slot and wristed the puck past Leighton to push the lead to 3-1 entering the third.
Shore polished off his hat trick 7:26 into the third frame. Remi Elie took the puck into the attacking end and found Shore just inside the left circle where he blasted home the shot to stretch the Texas lead to 4-1.
The IceHogs were able to find the back of the net midway through the frame. Marko Dano helped retrieve the puck in the attacking zone and found Ville Pokka at the blue line. Pokka fired a shot that Tanner Kero deflected over the shoulder of Lagace to pull Rockford back within two.
With a minute and a half left of regulation, and Leighton pulled for the extra skater, Brendan Ranford added to the Texas lead with an easy empty-netter and finished off the Hogs at 5-2.
Leighton was tagged with his second straight loss, stopping 30 of the 34 shots he faced. Lagace earned his first win of the season with a 25 save performance.
Rockford held Texas off the board on seven short-handed situations while converting on one of five chances with the extra skater.
The same two clubs will return to the BMO Harris Bank Center on Sunday for a 4 p.m. puck drop.