Rockford, Illinois News

IceHogs snap six-game skid with first win of season

ROCKFORD – Forward Evan Barratt scored his first professional goal and goaltender Cale Morris records his first professional win to help the Rockford IceHogs log a 3-2 win against the Cleveland Monsters at the BMO Harris Bank Center Tuesday.

The comeback snapped a six-game losing streak and was Rockford’s first win of the season.

In his first professional start, IceHogs goaltender Cale Morris (35 saves) stood tall in the opening period denying all 13 Monsters shots to keep the contest scoreless after 20 minutes of play. The IceHogs registered six shots on Monsters keeper Veini Vehvilainen (21 saves).

Former IceHogs captain and Monsters forward Tyler Sikura opened the scoring on the power play at 6:26 of the second frame, banking a pass off a Hogs defenseman and past Morris for his first tally of the season. Late in the period, Barratt evened the contest with his first professional marker off a faceoff win at 15:52 with help from forward Tim Soderlund and defenseman Isaak Phillips.

The two sides continued to trade chances in the third period before Cleveland’s Evan Polei caught a bounce at 12:27 to reclaim the lead and make it 2-1. Pushing forward, the IceHogs locked up the score again as forward Andrei Altybarmakyan powered in his first goal of the season with 3:23 left to swing the momentum back over to the home club. With 93 seconds remaining, Barratt found Phillips at the left point to rifle in the game-winning marker and complete the comeback victory.

The IceHogs finished 0-for-1 on the power play while the Griffins went 1-for-3.

Rockford coach Derek King said grabbing the first of the season is a relief, but not a time to relax.

“There’s no relaxing,” King said. “We knew coming into this year that we wanted to see our young guys play, give them opportunities and there was going to be some nights that were frustrating. But they showed us (tonight) that if we battle for three periods hard, stay the course of our game plan, you give yourself a chance to win. They showed us what they can do for three periods. Now they’ve got to continue to do that.”

The IceHogs take their four-game series against the Cleveland Monsters on the road Saturday, Feb. 27, and Sunday, Feb. 28, at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland.