ROCKFORD, Ill. — In a game for the record books, the Rockford IceHogs handled the Chicago Wolves Friday night with a 7-3 Illinois Lottery Cup victory at the MetroCentre.
Forwards Brett Sterling and Eric Kattelus and defenseman Jim Vandermeer scored for Chicago (35-27-5-4), which surrendered a franchise-record 58 shots to the IceHogs. Milwaukee set the previous mark of 56 on Feb. 10, 1995.
With the loss, the Wolves (79 points) dropped into 10th place in the Western Conference playoff chase with five games to play. Milwaukee and Rockford (81 points) are tied for the eighth and final playoff spot.
With playoff implications weighing heavy on both teams, scoring started early and happened often. Sterling lit the lamp first with an unassisted strike that trickled past Rockford goalie Carter Hutton at 8:30 of the first period.
The lead held until IceHogs right wing Ben Smith rocketed a cross-crease feed over the top of Wolves goaltender Matt Climie. Smith’s power-play score at 17:43 would be his first of three on the night.
Rockford (38-31-2-1) scored three times in the second period to take a 4-2 lead after 40 minutes. Kattelus’ deflection of a Brad Hunt shot on the power play had cut the IceHogs margin to 3-2, but Smith scored with 45 seconds left in the second to regain the two-goal lead.
The IceHogs scored three more times in the third period before Vandermeer’s slap shot on the power play closed the scoring with 29 seconds to play.
Climie (22-23-3) stopped 40 of 44 shots before being replaced by Joe Cannata (11 saves in 14 shots) at the start of the third period.
The Wolves return to Allstate Arena at 7 p.m. Saturday as they welcome the Charlotte Checkers.
— Chicago Wolves