Johngy's Beat made our return to Rockford along with over 5,000 fans braved the cold and snow to cheer on the Icehogs on Valentine's Day. We were rewarded with a 4-2 comeback victory over their division rival Grand Rapids Griffins.
I love the IceHogs, but even I was surprised at the attendance, all things considered. It just goes to prove the rabid fanbase of the IceHogs (aka the Blackhawks of tomorrow).
Liza Nolan, making her official Johngy's Beat debut, wants to give credit to her lucky tiara. I am smart enough not to argue that point, but I will also give credit to the IceHogs tenacity, despite being down 2-0 midway through the first period. Three time Stanley Cup champion Bryan Bickell gets extra points for his momentum changing goal near the end of the first and the goal-ahead goal in the third.
Ryan Hartman and Mark McNeill contributed the other two goals. McNeill and Hartman also assisted on the other's goal. Michael Leighton made 25 saves on 27 shots.
The real story of the game was the comeback. Granted, it was only 2-0 and still in the first period, but that could have been a spirit-breaker. The IceHogs never let up and when the veteran Bickell got his first goal, you could almost feel the game shift. The Griffins really didn't muster a legitimate threat after that first period. Even pulling the goalie late in the game didn;t help the Griffins mount a strong offensive attack.
Coach Ted Dent discussed the penalties, the slow start, the Griffins and more in the post game media session. Dent was his usual open and honest self.
The IceHogs moved into first place of the Central Division of the Western Conference. Their record of 28-11-5-4 with 65 points is also good for first place overall in the Western Conference. There is still a lot of hockey to play though, with 28 games remaining. The IceHogs have clinched a playoff spot, but now positioning is the goal.
Check out IceHogs.com for more info, updates and news. Stay tuned here for more covreage, as well. Most important, get to a game! You'll love it as much as I do.
(Interview video courtesy of IceHogs.com)