Powered by a strong offense in front of him, Rockford IceHogs goaltender Michael Leighton earned his 200th career AHL win in Rockford’s 5-2 thrashing of the Iowa Wild on Friday.
A three point night from Bryan Bickell (1g-2a), along with two points from Jeremy Morin (1g-1a) and Ville Pokka (1g-1a), was more than enough as the IceHogs knocked off the Wild for the fourth time in the season series.
Dennis Rasmussen nearly got the scoring started for the IceHogs at 12:24 in the opening frame. Working in tight on Iowa’s Leland Irving, Rasmussen spun in front of the net before slipping the puck between the goaltender’s legs. The refs initially ruled that it was a good goal but after further review it was determined the net was off its moorings.
Just over a minute later, Pierre-Cedric Labrie made sure his goal was going to count. Vince Hinostroza raced into the Wild zone before feeding Labrie with the easy tap-in at 13:41 in the first period to put the IceHogs in front 1-0.
The scoring opened up in the second period with the IceHogs and Wild each tallying two goals.
It didn’t take long for Rockford to get going in the middle frame and double the lead to 2-0. Jake Dowell fired a puck off the back board for Pokka to wrap in for his second of the season just 40 seconds into the stanza.
Iowa used their third power play of the game to get on the board 3:06 into the second period. Iowa’s captain, Maxime Fortunus, set up Michael Keranen at the blue line, who blew a one-timer past a screened Leighton.
Rockford got the goal back and regained their two goal advantage when Bickell notched his second goal of the season. Bickell drove into the Iowa zone and ripped a shot top-shelf over Irving to make it a 3-1 contest at 14:02 of the second.
Just before the period ended however, Iowa responded to cut into the lead once again. Stationed behind the Rockford cage, Brady Brassart, found Kurtis Grabriel and he hammered a shot from point blank range past Leighton.
Rockford continued to pressure the Wild in the final 20 minutes and pulled away from the home squad. Rasmussen followed up his own rebound at 17:32 before Jeremy Morin capped the scoring at 8:55. Bickell picked up the secondary assist on the play for his third point of the night and now shows points in all three games he’s appeared in with the IceHogs.
Leighton not only picked up the milestone victory but also extended his personal seven-game unbeaten streak (6-0-1) this season by turning away 27 shots.
The IceHogs have now knocked off the Wild in seven straight games dating back to Jan. 16 during the 2014-15 campaign.