Friday night was your typical Rockford-Milwaukee game. Hard-fought to the end, more than a little chippy and full of energy with a solid home crowd in attendance.
It was the Hogs’ first visit to the Bradley Center this season with the series tied 1-1 heading in.
Carter Hutton began the game with a 9-1 record against the Ads, but over the course of the game, Milwaukee got plenty of traffic in front of him.
Rob Flick saw all three of his shots turned away by Jeremy Smith but other than that our friend Flicka wasn’t heard from very much.
Smith got flat out beat on a break by Nick Leddy just 40 seconds into the game. Leddy pulled up for a slapper from the top of the left circle and beat an unscreened Smitty.
Then the Admirals got a big power play chance early after a roughing call on Wade Brookbank.
The Admirals scored their second power play goal in as many games after breaking an 0-15 streak Tuesday. Victor Bartley fed a pass from the right circle that bounced off Taylor Beck in front of the net and right to a waiting Gabriel Bourque who put it in.
Brandon Saad gave Milwaukee another opportunity with a four-minute double minor for high sticking.
And again Bourque struck with 8:26 left in the period to give the Ads a 2-1 lead. Ellis chipped a pass to Bourque in front of the net and he was able to knock it down out of the air right through Hutton’s five hole.
Brandon Bollig and Joonas Jarvinen tangled with 5:44 left, and while Bollig landed some pretty big blows, Jarvinen seemed a bit outmatched.
Then, in a grind against the boards Kyle Beach appeared to grab Michael Latta’s face, and Latta responded by knocking him over at 4:46 to start another rumble.This one was a bit more evenly matched but Latta got a little bloodied.
Beach went to the box for instigating however, opening another four-minute power play window. The Ads wouldn’t put up any shots this time but ended the period with the lead.
Coach Dean Evason talked about the power play and what helped it break through this time around.
At 11:02 of the second period, Milwaukee added to its lead.
Jimmy Hayes couldn’t clear the puck and it was held in by Milwaukee. Beck took a shot near the inside of the right circle that came off Hutton into a crowd of blue jerseys. Cam Reid took a whack at it and saw his rebound go to the goalie’s right side where Beck collected it and fed it back to Latta who had a wide open net.
Twice more in the period the Admirals could’ve put it away early.
Mueller couldn’t get enough behind a 1-on-1 breakaway attempt, and on the next possession Austin Watson had a 2-on-1 thwarted by a sprawling Rockford defender.
The end of the period was a bit of a letdown for the Ads as Brandon Pirri collected a clean Hogs faceoff win in the Ads zone with just seven seconds left and fired a slapper right passed Smith to make it 3-2.
As time expired there was some group shoving in the far left corner just behind Smith. The scene brought back memories of last year’s bench-clearing brawl.
Beck started the third period in the penalty box after the scrum, giving the Hogs their second power play chance. Smith stopped two Rockford shots as the Ads continued their recent success on the kill.
The IceHogs got their equalizer, however, after a questionable sequence of events.
Beach smacked call-up Charles-Olivier Roussel in the face with his stick to work it along the boards to Bollig. His backhanded pass found a wide open Martin St. Pierre, who beat Smitty from near the top of the left circle at 4:04.
Mueller tried to answer with a wrister with 14:11 left that Hutton gloved nicely out of the air.
Smith made a nice glove save of his own when Leddy tried for another long slapper from just under the Perkins logo, breaking his stick in the process.
Jon Blum did a good job shutting down a break by Saad with just under 7 minutes left to go.
Daniel Bang found himself alone at the top of the offensive zone and fired a shot that Hutton gloved out of the air with 1:27 left.
That was the last real chance either team had to break the tie as Milwaukee held the puck behind its net for the final 10 seconds to head into overtime.
Jeremy Morin got a good break and shot on a 2-on-1 that deflected up off Smitty’s pads over the net with about 3:40 remaining in OT. Then the Ads got the break they needed.
Kevin Henderson started the rush into the Rockford zone, but passed the puck into a flurry of red jerseys. The puck somehow came back to Henderson and he threw it on net to beat a surprised Hutton five-hole to secure the sudden death win.
Henderson was both thrilled and surprised by the opportunity to win the game.
After some borderline harsh comments last week, Evason’s critque of his goaltender was much different tonight.
Evason also gave his usual chime in on injuries. Scott Valentine is out with a “short-term upper body” injury, while Jani Lajunen missed the game with sickness.
Milwaukee is now 2-1 vs. Rockford and will travel to Peoria tonight, return home against Hamilton Sunday and host two more games against the Hogs next week.