Franson, Delia Lead IceHogs to 3-2 Victory over Wild
Rockford, IL – Cody Franson scored two goals and Collin Delia stopped 35 shots as the Rockford IceHogs defeated the Iowa Wild on Saturday evening, 3-2. The loss dropped the Wild to 1-3-0 through the first six contests of their seven-game road trip. Two games have been postponed.
Iowa got off to a great start, taking the lead 4:26 into the contest. Will Bitten had the puck behind the Rockford net. He attempted to pass it in front, but the puck hit off the back of the goal to the other side where Mason Shaw quickly tapped it out in front. Gabriel Dumont was right there to knock the one-timer by Delia for his sixth goal of the year. That gave Dumont a point in nine straight games, the longest streak in the AHL this season.
The Wild had what they needed with the early lead, but the IceHogs responded with three unanswered goals. The first came at 9:23. Nicolas Beaudin passed the puck to the point, where Franson fired a missile that found its way by Iowa netminder Hunter Jones for his sixth goal of the year.
A little over three minutes later Rockford was back on the board. Beaudin fed the puck ahead to Matej Chalupa just before he entered the Wild zone. He moved in about 20 feet from the net, then fired a slapshot that beat Jones low to the blocker side to put Rockford on top 2-1.
The IceHogs had been outshot 13-3 in the first period but held the lead as Jones continued to look shaky. The Wild netminder had struggled in his first two professional starts, giving up seven to Texas on opening night and nine to Chicago in 40 minutes on February 20. However, with No. 1 goaltender Derreck Bairbeau out, this is Jones’ opportunity to turn things around.
He did settle down, stopping the first eight shots he faced in the second period, but a too many men on the ice penalty at 11:24 gave Rockford a power play and they scored just 10 seconds later. The IceHogs won the draw in the Iowa end. Beaudin had the puck along the boards, passing it to the point to Brandon Pirri, who dished it across to Franson just above the left faceoff circle. Franson settled the puck onto his stick, then fired a wrist shot through a screen that beat Jones five-hole to make it 3-1.
With a little less than five minutes left in the second, the Wild looked like they had pulled within a goal. Ian McCoshen fired a shot from the point that Delia saved but Bitten knocked the puck in with his skate. It was initially ruled a goal, but the referee ruled that Bitten had kicked it in, waving off the tally.
The Wild did not let this get them down, scoring their second goal of the game with a little less than four minutes left in the second period. Josh Atkinson blasted a slapshot from the point that Delia saved, but the rebound came right to Cody McLeod who knocked it in for his first goal of the year.
That Wild trailed by a goal, but they could not find the equalizer. Delia stopped all seven shots he faced in the final period, giving him 35 saves in 37 opportunities, securing the 3-2 victory. The loss was the first by Iowa to the IceHogs in regulation in eight games. Beaudin had three assists for Rockford.
Jones finished with 16 saves. Six Wild players had one point in the game.
Iowa closes out the seven-game road trip in Rockford on Sunday. The puck drops at 4:00.
By Robert Pannier