After a less-than-stellar start to the season, the Rockford IceHogs got their season back on track with wins over the Texas Stars and Hershey Bears over the weekend to open the year at home. Rockford exacts a bit of revenge with their win over the Stars, who eliminated the IceHogs last season from the Calder Cup Playoffs.
Rockford IceHogs Open BMO Harris Bank Center With Win Over Stars
Opening the BMO Harris Bank Center on Saturday night, the Rockford IceHogs played hosts to the Texas Stars in a rematch of the Calder Cup Western Conference Finals last season, where the Stars eliminated the IceHogs in Six games to advance to the Calder Cup Finals. It was also a welcoming game for the Stars to the Central Division after spending the last three seasons since the AHL moved to a four division format in the Pacific Division.
It wouldn’t take long for the IceHogs to begin their search for revenge as the Sikura brothers got Rockford on the board early for the game’s opening goal. Tyler Sikura was able to bang in a rebound off his brother Dylan Sikura‘s shot from the right circle and the IceHogs took a 1-0 lead. The lead wouldn’t last long, though, as the Stars would tie the game on a goal from James Phelan and then with less than a minute to play, a miscommunication led to the Stars getting a goal from Denis Gurianov to end the period 2-1 for Texas.
The middle frame would see Henrik Samuelsson net his first goal of the season, a rebound chance to tie the game at 2-2 less than two and a half minutes into the period. The Stars would once again answer the bell mid-way through the period as Justin Dowling would re-direct a shot from the blue-line past Collin Delia to give the Stars the lead at 3-2 heading to the third period.
Rockford would again tie the game in the third period as Matheson Iacopelli buried the cross-ice feed from Graham Knott to make it 3-3, mid-way through the final period. Not long after that, the IceHogs found the lead for good as Dylan Sikura would score his first goal of the season to give Rockford the 4-3 lead on a 3-on-3 rush. Darren Raddysh would add the empty-net insurance goal and the IceHogs come away winners over the Stars 5-3.
Collin Delia gets his first win of the season, stopping 34 of 37 shots faced, earning the first-star of the night honors in the win. The IceHogs killed off both powerplays they faced against the Stars and scored on one of their six powerplay chances for.
Rockford IceHogs Route Hershey Bears
The celebration for the first win of the season wouldn’t last long for the IceHogs. After getting the 5-3 win on Saturday night, Rockford played host again on Sunday, this time hosting the Hershey Bears for an afternoon puck drop.
Much like Saturday’s contest, the IceHogs would get on the board early as Tyler Sikura, Henrik Samuelsson, and Anthony Louis teamed up for a great tic-tac-toe goal on the rush with Louis finishing it off for his first goal of the season. With the assist, Tyler Sikura hits a three-game point streak early on this season. The lead wouldn’t survive the period, though, as the Bears would tie the game on a Tyler Lewington shot from the blue-line that found its way by Collin Delia.
The game would enter the second period at 1-1, until the IceHogs capitalized on a powerplay opportunity with Dylan Sikura setting up Jordan Schroeder with a cross-ice pass that Schroeder put home for the 2-1 lead. Schroeder’s first goal of the season and Dylan Sikura’s third assist of the season, putting both Sikura brothers on three-game point-streaks. The Bears would answer back in the second period, a game-tying goal coming from Liam O’Brien on a quick turnaround shot to knot it up at 2-2, seven minutes into the period. But just over 90 seconds later, Graham Knott would find a rebound and get his first goal of the season to give Rockford the lead for good as they headed to the third period.
In the final frame, the IceHogs extended their lead to 4-2, thanks to a goal from Terry Broadhurst coming from a great feed from Jordan Schroeder for Broadhurst’s first goal with the IceHogs in his return this season. Broadhurst played previously with the IceHogs from 2012-2014. Matthew Highmore would add an empty-net goal late in the period to give the IceHogs the 5-2 win on Sunday.
Head Coach Jeremy Colliton
Collin Delia, in back-to-back starts, earns his second win of the season with another 30+ save performance. Delia stopped 36 of 38 shots faced to rebound from his 21 of 26 first start of the season and improve his save-percentage to .906 after three games. The IceHogs were a perfect 3-for-3 on their penalty kills and scored on one of their four powerplay opportunities.
The Rockford IceHogs are back on the road next weekend as they travel Southwest to Arizona to take on the Tucson Roadrunners. The IceHogs and Roadrunners square-off in back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday, with both puck drops scheduled for 8:05 pm CT.