On Wednesday night, the Rockford IceHogs took another big step towards securing a Calder Cup Playoff spot with a 4-2 win over the San Antonio Rampage in San Antonio. With the win, the IceHogs improved their record to 10-2-2 since the beginning of March and extended their current winning-streak to five games. While Rockford got the win in regulation, the Milwaukee Admirals also gained two points on Wednesday night with a 6-3 win over the Cleveland Monsters, keeping the space between the IceHogs in fourth-place and Milwaukee in fifth-place at five points in the AHL Central Division.
Wednesday: Rockford IceHogs def. San Antonio Rampage, 4-2
Wednesday night started off on the right foot for the IceHogs. With Collin Delia making his return to Rockford and his return to the starting position, the IceHogs were able to get on the board first early in the opening period. Matthew Highmore was able to bury a drop pass from Tanner Kero for the game’s first goal. Leading 1-0 on Highmore’s team-leading 23rd goal of the season, Rockford’s advantage was quickly erased as the Rampage were able to get a game-tying goal less than two minutes later. It would be another two minutes and the Rampage would find themselves up 2-1 on the IceHogs at the mid-way point of the period.
Rockford, quickly on their heels, were able to crawl back into the game and get an equalizing goal late in the first period. Anthony Louis floated a puck towards San Antonio’s goalie Spencer Martin, but it was difficult to handle and Lance Bouma was able to be at the right spot at the right time and scored the 2-2 goal on the fumbled puck. Bouma’s sixth goal of the season with Rockford and the teams would head to the dressing room tied 2-2 after the opening 20 minutes.
The IceHogs wouldn’t take long to break the 2-2 tie in the second period as William Pelletier was able to control a breakout pass from Highmore and bury the 3-2 goal while short-handed. Pelletier’s 12th goal of the season gave Rockford the lead just under four minutes into the middle frame. Delia would get some help in the second and third periods from his goal posts, but was able to save all 10 shots he faced in the period and Rockford would hold onto their 3-2 lead heading into the final 20 minutes.
In the third period, the game began to tighten up as both the IceHogs and Rampage were looking to stay alive in the Calder Cup Playoff race, putting the game in to a playoff-type feel. Delia would again be called on to keep Rockford’s lead intact and he answered the bell, saving all nine shots he faced in the period as Rockford was able to put home an empty-net goal with less than a minute to play. Pelletier would out-race the Rampage defense late in the game and tally his second goal of the game and give the IceHogs a 4-2 win to open a four-game road-trip and extend their winning streak to five-games.
Delia made 24 saves on 26 shots faced in his return to the Rockford roster and improved his record to 15-6-4 on the season and 8-0-2 over his last 10 appearances. William Pelletier notched his 12th and 13th goals of the season, Highmore extended his team-lead in goals and tied Louis for the team-lead in points with 40 on the season. Additionally, Lance Bouma extended his point-streak to three games, Chris DiDomenico extended his point-streak to nine games and has 13 points (4G, 9A) over that time. All good things for a team that is fighting off two teams for the fourth and final Calder Cup Playoff spot in the Central Division.
Calder Cup Playoff Race
After Wednesday night, here’s the AHL Central Division Calder Cup Playoff Race (games remaining):
- Chicago Wolves – 38-21-11, 87 pts, .621 pts% (6)
- Manitoba Moose – 39-24-8, 86 pts, .606 pts% (5)
- Grand Rapids Griffins – 39-24-8, 86 pts, .606 pts% (5)
- Rockford IceHogs – 38-25-8, 84 pts, .592 pts% (5)
- Milwaukee Admirals – 37-29-5, 79 pts, .556 pts% (5)
- Iowa Wild – 30-26-15, 75 pts, .528 pts% (5)
- Cleveland Monsters – 23-38-10, 56 pts, .394 pts% (5)
Over their last ten games, the IceHogs are 8-1-1 and since the beginning of March, hold a 10-2-2 record. Compared to the last ten of the Admirals (6-4-0) and the Wild (1-8-1), Rockford might be peaking at the right time to seal a Calder Cup Playoff spot within the next few days. Once that happens, it becomes a pick’em of who will be their opponent with the Wolves, Moose, and Griffins so close in the top three of the division.
The IceHogs are back in action on Friday as they prepare for back-to-back contests against the Texas Stars in Cedar Park, Texas. Friday night’s game is slated for a 7:30 pm Central Time puck drop and then again on Saturday night for a 7 pm Central time puck drop. Rockford closes their four-game road trip on Tuesday with a Central Division matchup against the Iowa Wild in Iowa. Tuesday night’s puck drop is set for 7 pm Central Time.