Rockford gets best of Chicago Wolves
Old-school hockey fans who miss the fighting, hard hitting and flat-out nastiness of the NHL in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, fear not.
That kind of action still exists.
All one has to do is attend a Rockford IceHogs-Chicago Wolves game and some sort of histrionics are more likely than not to develop.
Take Nov. 27 in Rockford, for example, when there were four fights and 102 combined penalty minutes. Or how about Dec. 19 at the Allstate Arena when there was just one fight, but a whopping 132 penalty minutes.
Saturday night, it was more of the same as the teams racked up a combined 12 penalties for 46 penalty minutes -- in the first period alone! -- during the visiting IceHogs' 4-2 victory in front of 11,629 fans.
The feistiness certainly shouldn't come as a surprise as these are (mostly) young guys doing everything they can to reach the next level. Add in the fact that you have the minor-league teams of the Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues clashing a dozen times this season and it's no wonder tempers flare on a regular basis.
Tanner Kero scored the game-winning goal, deflecting in a pass from Kirill Gotovets with 5:08 remaining. Kero has 7 goals in his last 16 games. Dane Walters added an empty-netter with 28.2 seconds remaining.
The IceHogs' (29-13-9) other goals came in the first period from defenseman Dennis Robertson and forward Ryan Haggerty. Haggerty, whom the Blackhawks acquired for Antti Raanta in the off-season, has 6 goals in just 24 games this season. He broke a 10-game goal-scoring drought.
The Wolves (23-23-5) got their goals from Dmitrij Jaskin and Danny Kristo, with Kristo's tying the game at 7:41 of the second period.
Bryan Bickell, who assisted on Robertson's goal, took 5 shots on goal in the first 20 minutes and nearly scored on three different attempts less than 15 seconds apart on a first-period power play. Bickell also laid out one of hist trademark hits with 5:30 left in the game.
Rockford was 1-3-3 in its last seven games, including an ugly 9-1 loss to Grand Rapids on Feb. 5.
The squads have met nine times this season and have piled up 506 penalty minutes, an average 56.2 per game. There were nearly three fights Saturday at one time in the first period (only one actually breaking out between Rockford's Mike Liambas and the Wolves' Emerson Clark).
Fans have three more chances to see these teams clash: March 18 and 30 at Allstate and March 19 in Rockford.