Rockford came on strong in the first half with his offense and his fists. In just 15 seconds, Dmitry Osipov and Keaton Thompson were engaged in a long fight that Osipov eventually won. Soon after, Chris Wilkie gave the IceHogs their first lead of the game after numerous chances for Rockford. It was the sixth consecutive game in which the Pigs scored first. Josiah Slavin had an assist in the game after Carson Gickiewicz, a recent NCAA champion and the youngest player to make his AHL debut, just missed.
Iowa would later tie the game on a frenzied rebound. The puck bounced wildly off Rockford goalie Cale Morris on an attempted throw-in. The ball ricocheted off the post and straight to Jerry Mayhew who deposited it in the net to decide the game.
After some time between the two clubs, the IceHogs scored their second goal during a four-on-four, with captain Garrett Mitchell heading in the winning goal for the 2-1 victory. The Ice Hogs had one more chance to score before the end of the third, but the result was very worrisome.
As Wilkie deposited the puck into the net, he collided with goalie Derek Baribeau and a brief scuffle ensued. As the officials handled the play, Baribeau took off his helmet and fell to the ice. He needed help getting into the locker room and will be replaced by Hunter Jones. Wilkie received a five-minute penalty for an elbow and a game misconduct. After the first period, the score was 2-1 Rockford. With 4:19 to go, the power play went to the Wild.
Iowa led by two goals at the midway point, while the IceHogs struggled to find the equalizer. In the ensuing shootout, Connor Dewar evened the score for the Wild after just 1:30 of play. On the power play, Hogs forward DJ Busdeker was brought down on a breakaway and hit the post for Rockford’s first three shots of the third inning.
Later, another ringing shot chases the pigs. This time by Gicevic, who followed in a 4-on-1 rush. Iowa answered that momentum with a goal from Brandon Duhaime to give his team a 3-2 lead. His shot from the circle beat Morris, who missed the initial rebound.
Rockford continued its offensive play and McKenzie Entwistle showed what should have been a highlight reel by skating around several Wild defenders, but with Jones on his neck, he sent the puck straight to the post. The second set of 20 ended with a 3-2 lead for Iowa.
Rockford kept the pressure on in the final period in what looked to be a complete game, but Iowa’s defense took control and did not allow the lead to be cut. The game continued to be filled with many events, but once again, nothing fell as much in favor of the Ice Hogs as it did in the first half.
Rockford killed a tumbled baby with 3:16 to go, then Morris pulled in front of an additional attacker with less than a minute to go. Their tight offensive coverage in the final 30 seconds put the Wild in trouble, but Jones held on to seal the 3-2 victory for his team. The final score was 29-27 in favor of the visitors, but in the end Iowa was the better one.
Saturday night at Wells Fargo Arena, both clubs have a quick turnaround and it will be back to the drawing board. Face-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. local time. For the Wilds, Baribeau’s status is uncertain, so the goaltender situation could be different in Game 2.
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