Two days after letting in three goals during the first period the San Antonio Rampage let in four in the first in a loss to Rockford. The Ice Hogs held on to earn a 6-5 victory Friday night at the Rockford MetroCentre.
For the second game in a row Justin Pogge let multiple shots past in the first period – Wednesday the Wolves netted three, Friday Rockford netted four. The Rockford offense was lead by Matt Keith who scored his first career American Hockey League hat trick.
San Antonio (24-22-3-6, 57 points) has allowed nine goals in their last two games, well over their 2.84 goals allowed per game before Wednesday and Friday’s matches. Rockford (33-21-2-3, 71 points) moved to within three points of Chicago (35-17-0-4, 74 points) for the West Division lead.
The Rampage jumped out to an early lead on Stefan Meyer’s goal at 2:52 in the first. Meyer received a pass from Rampage newcomer Jimmy Sharrow and beat Corey Crawford high on his glove to put the Rampage up 1-0.
The IceHogs took over the reaming time in the period and would score four goals in a little more than ten minutes. Keith scored his first goal of the night at 7:37 after receiving the puck in the slot from Evan Prophey and beat Pogge high on the left side. Mike Brennan scored on a Jack Skille rebound at 15:49. Brennan received the puck after Pogge’s block and then beat the netminder on his stick side to put the home team up 2-1. Keith scored his second goal of the night just 26 seconds after Brennan when he took a Pete MacArthur pass from behind the net and beat Pogge on his glove side. At 18:13 Rockford scored their fourth goal of the opening frame when Richard Petiot scored on a slap shot from the left faceoff circle.
With Rockford heading into the second period up 4-1 Josh Tordjman entered the net to try his hand against the IceHog shooters.
The Rampage brought the game within two off Mikkel Boedker’s goal at 4:24 in the second. Boedker moved the puck through a crowded Rockrod offensive zone to beat Crawford down low in the slot. The second newest member of the Rampage, defenseman Justin Kinnuen earned his first assist with the team on Boedker’s eigth goal of the season. Boedker earned an assist on San Antonio’s next goal after Kevin Porter took a pass and beat Crawforfd low through the five-hole at 5:46.
Rockford added to their lead at 18:49 when Kyle Greentree beat Tordjman low on his glove side. Greentree scored on a one-timer from Skille to give the IceHogs a 5-3 lead heading into the third period.
San Antonio scored their first power play goal since February 12 at 5:42 into the third. Kyle Turris gathered a loose puck in front of the Rockford net and beat Crawford on the right side to put the visitors within one. Rockford would increase their lead to two again on Keith’s third goal of the night. Keith earned his first career hat trick and the IceHogs’ first of the season at 17:49 when his shot was ruled a goal after it hit the crossbar. With 57 seconds left in the game Brett MacLean to move to within one goal again but it would prove to be too little, too late as Rockford held on for the win.
Pogge blocked 8 of 12 shots and Tordjman stopped 17 of 19 in the loss while Crawford stopped 29 of 34 to earn his 16th win of the season.
The Rampage are still struggling on the power play but there penalty kill has stayed strong as San Antonio held Rockford scoreless on four man advantages.
The two teams will see each other again on Saturday before the Rampage head back to Chicago on Sunday. San Antonio will travel to Grand Rapids (24-29-2-1, 51 points) to play their 14th and final game of the road trip before returning to the AT&T Center to host the Manitoba Moose (28-25-5-1) on Feb. 26 and 27.