WINNIPEG, Manitoba-The Rockford IceHogs took a while to develop chemistry in their season opener in Manitoba Saturday afternoon. When they figured it out in the offensive end, it was in a big way.
Trailing 3-0 entering the third period, the Hogs went on a tear, tying the game twice to send it into overtime, then capping an epic comeback with a Brett Seney goal to prevail 5-4 over the Moose.
For most of the first 40 minutes, it was Manitoba who controlled the action. The Moose played like a team that was returning a host of key skaters from last year’s Central Division runner-up. Leon Gawanke opened the scoring 2:54 into the game with a long-distance point shot. Daniel Torgersson and Chaz Lucius tallied 1:47 apart in the middle of the second period, and it didn’t look to be Rockford’s day.
Things turned around early in the final frame. Luke Philp one-timed a long backhanded pass from Nicolas Beaudin at the left post to get the Hogs on the board at the 1:24 mark. At 7:36, Lukas Reichel hit David Gust coming into the Manitoba zone. With a flick of the wrist from the left circle, Gust cut the lead to a single goal.
Just 25 seconds later, Cliff Watson forced a turnover just inside the Hogs blueline and sprung Reichel for a breakaway goal past Moose goalie Arvid Holm, tying the contest at 8:01 of the third period. Manitoba righted the ship just seconds later when Kristian Reichel sent a shot off of the skate of Rockford’s Adam Clendening and past Hogs goalie Arvid Soderblom.
However, the IceHogs still had time for a response.
Bringing Soderblom to the bench with over two minutes to play, Rockford head coach Anders Sorensen saw the move pay off almost immediately. Reichel sent a shot to the Manitoba net. Philp got a piece of it, sending it past Holm and into the goal with 2:04 remaining in regulation.
A late scoring chance by the Moose was reviewed before overtime at the request of Manitoba coach Mark Morrison. The ruling of a no-goal from minutes earlier held up, and the 3-on-3 began. Just 1:24 into the extra session, Seney found a sliver of open net just above Holm’s shoulder. Firing from the bottom of the left circle, Seney brought the game to an end in favor of the IceHogs.
- Philp completed the Gordie Howe Hat Trick with his assist on Seney’s game-winner. He had a two-goal debut in addition to the helper and a clean fight win over Kristian Reichel in the first period.
- Rockford rookie forward Cole Guttman was taken to the locker room in the third period after falling to the ice following a collision with several players. He did not return to action.
- The Three Stars on Saturday: Seney (First), Mikey Eyssimont (Second, two assists for the Moose), and Philp (Third).
- Gust and Reichel both had three point games for Rockford. Each player wound up with a goal and two helpers.
- Clendening recorded an assist on Philp’s second goal and led the IceHogs with six shots on goal.
- Soderblom and Holm were each peppered with shots throughout the game. Soderblom stopped 38 of 42 shots to pick up the win; Holm made 35 saves on 40 shots in defeat.
- After a highly-entertaining opener, Rockford and Manitoba are back at it Sunday afternoon. Puck drop is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. CST.
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