Despite tallying four goals in the first period, the Rockford IceHogs (37-22-10-4) could not maintain their lead, falling 5-4 to the Manitoba Moose (25-40-4-3) in the final head-to-head meeting of the season. The Moose earned regulation wins in all four games against Rockford.
The first period started with a bang, as rookie forward Tyler Motte knocked home his first professional tally 25 seconds into the game. Vince Hinostoza bounced a puck in front of the net and Motte redirected it over the line to quickly give Rockford a 1-0 lead.
Motte found the scoresheet again less than four minutes later, this time with his first professional assist. With the IceHogs on the power play, Motte skated down the right wing and faked a shot at the cage. He quickly moved a pass to Cameron Schilling on the left post, and the IceHogs blueliner tapped the puck home to put the Hogs up 2-0. It was Rockford’s first two-goal lead since March 8.
Manitoba continued to battle, and got on the board at 9:39 of the first. Jansen Harkins won an offensive zone faceoff that was tipped back to Brenden Kichton at the blue line. Kichton whipped a wrister through traffic and into the cage, cutting Rockford’s lead to 2-1.
The score held for about five minutes before Manitoba tied the game at 14:45. A shot from Andrew MacWilliam along the left wing was tipped by Chase De Leo just in front of the goal crease, knotting the game up at 2-2.
A span of 36 seconds helped Rockford restore their two goal lead. Ryan Haggery potted his ninth goal of the season with a wrister into the top left corner of the net at 18:11, and David Rundblad followed it up by chipping in a rebound to finish off a three-on-two chance for Rockford at 18:47. The IceHogs held on for the remainder of the period to take a 4-2 lead into the second period.
After a hectic opening frame, the scoring slowed down in the middle stanza. The lone goal of the period was provided by Brenden Lemieux, who found himself with a wide-open chance on top of the right circle while on the power play. Lemieux fired a wrist shot low to the left corner to trim Rockford’s lead down to 4-3 after 40 minutes of play.
The IceHogs were whistled for a slashing penalty as time expired in the second, and that set up Manitoba’s game-tying goal to begin the third. De Leo collected his second goal of the game less than a minute into the period when he walked into the left circle and ripped a shot off the right post and into the net, locking the score at 4-4.
It was not until late in the third when the Moose grabbed their first lead of the gmae. Scott Kosmachuk worked a puck free behind the net and up to Sean Escobedo at the left point. He scooted a pass to Dan DaSalvo, and the Moose forward picked the bottom corner of the cage with 2:42 to play. It proved to be the game-winner as Manitoba completed a season sweep over Rockford.
The IceHogs potted four goals in the game, their largest goal output since earning a 5-2 win over Milwaukee on March 8. Drew MacIntyre stopped 25 shots but was tagged with a loss.