The Rockford IceHogs welcomed fans back to the BMO Harris Bank Center on Saturday with a 3-2 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins. After taking a 1-0 lead in the first period, the Hogs were forced to hold off a rally by the Griffins in the third period. With the win, the Hogs improved to 3-2-0-1 on the season.

The IceHogs may have lost four games last week, but that didn’t keep them from welcoming back fans with a victory of their own. After a two-week hiatus, the IceHogs returned to the ice Thursday night to take on the Grand Rapids Griffins at the Rockford MetroCentre. Despite a late push by the Griffins, the IceHogs held on for a 3-2 victory.

The Rockford Icehogs (10-15-1-0) defeated the Grand Rapids Griffins (12-9-3-0) on Saturday night.

This will be the first time fans have been able to sit in the BMO Harris Bank Center in 420 days. IceHogs season ticket holders were invited into the building to catch a glimpse of some future Chicago Blackhawks team members.

The first half was very eventful for the IceHogs and their fans. Rockford started the period with a 7-0 run, dominating the game and moving up and down the ice. That momentum forced Grand Rapids to turn up the offense, and the Icehogs finished it off.

Just six seconds after the opening goal, Brandon Pirri scored the first goal of the game to make it 1-0. McKenzie Entwistle and Dylan McLaughlin had assists. Pirri extended his scoring streak to five games.

As the third period progressed, the Griffins gained momentum and began to win the battle and move the puck. Cody Franson was found guilty of kicking the minority, but Rockford got his benefit. McLaughlin passed the puck past a Grand Rapids defender and scored his seventh goal of the season, extending the Hogs’ lead to 2-0. With this goal, Chris Wilkie became the top scorer in Blackhawks history on the affiliate team.

Within 20 minutes, Rockford had a 10-7 advantage in shots, and Rockford goalie Ivan Nalimov was reliable in goal.

The IceHogs continued to heat up, firing off ten shots in the second period. Six minutes later, Alec Regula tripled his team’s lead with a goal, assisted by Dmitry Osipov and Michal Tepli.

But this time, Grand Rapids responded immediately. Taro Hirose then scored the Griffins’ first goal, making it 3-1 for the home team.

No other goals were scored in the remaining period, despite several power play chances for both teams. The IceHogs maintained their lead in shots and allowed their opponents just four tries, 20-11 after 40 minutes.

Grand Rapids reduced the firepower on Nalimov and the Icehogs in the final 20 minutes, but Rockford closed the bag. Midway through the third period, Dominic Turgeon ended the Griffins’ scoring streak by scoring his team’s second goal of the game, giving them a one point lead going into halftime, 3-2.

Just like in Game 2, each club got a chance on the power play, but neither took advantage of it. As time expired, Grand Rapids goalkeeper Kevin Boyle came out for an extra attacker. The final minutes were played in the Ishogs’ offensive zone, but Nalimov made some great saves to preserve the Ishogs’ lead. A forecheck from behind the blue line secured a 3-2 win for Rockford at the BMO Harris Bank Center.

Of course the fans, who came back to see the Icehogs, supported the offense and the victory. Head coach Derek King can be proud of the way the team played tonight, as well as the crowd that was enthusiastic all night.

The IceHogs’ next game is next Friday against the Iowa Wild.

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