Pierre-Cedric Labrie netted a hat trick leading the Rockford IceHogs (33-14-7-7) to a 5-2 victory over their Central Division rival Milwaukee Admirals (36-20-3-0). The win created a little extra space between the 1st place IceHogs and the Admirals with about a month to go in the season.
Under the new standings system, the Admirals are currrently in 3rd place with a .636 winning percentage, trailing the Grand Rapids Griffins by .02, although the Admirals have one more point. This oddity will be worked out by the season's end, but I am less concerned with 2nd or 3rd as I am with 1st place, where the IceHogs hope to be.
The Admirals jumped to an early 1-0 lead, which is how the first period ended. JohngysBeat.com's Hockey Correspondent Jason Fleigel addressed that in the post-game media session (see video below).
Coach Ted Dent downplayed Jason's suggestion that the IceHogs got off to a slow start, but there was no denying that the IceHogs did amp it up in the second period.
Starting with Labrie's first goal, the IceHogs netted three goals in 4:49 during the second period. Jake Dowell and the newly-acquired Matt Fraser score the other two.
Labrie scored again early in the third period. The Admirals answered with a goal by Adam Payerl. Labrie ended the scoring by putting the puck into an empty net to seal the 5-2 victory and earn his hat trick. Yes, fans did toss a good number of hats onto the ice (although I kept mine on my head).
Labrie was named the first star of the game, with Jake Dowell being second and Kyle Baun was third. Goalie Michael Leighton also received consideration based on his saving 26 of 28 shots, including a critical stop on a penalty shot.
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(Post-game media session video courtesy of IceHogs.com)