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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Gordie Howe hat trick in up and down night; 4-3 OT win over Hogs

Chicago—Chicago Wolves defenseman Nathan Oystrick was credited with a Gordie Howe hat trick in a 4-3 overtime win over the Rockford IceHogs Thursday night at the Allstate Arena. Oystrick had a hot and cold performance that threatened to sink the Wolves at one point.

Rockford, with seven players called up by the Chicago Blackhawks, more than meets the definition of a decimated team. Five of the team’s six top point producers were not on the ice Thursday. The team captain, Jim Fahey, and a leading blue liner, Prestin Ryan, sat the game out. And winger Kris Verteeg was a scratch.

The IceHogs depended on a number of players who were just signed to professional tryouts, not even calling up their own players from the Blackhawks ECHL affiliate.

Yet, the IceHogs, behind Corey Crawford’s 35 saves, forced the Wolves into overtime, nearly stealing the game due to defensive blunders. Although the Wolves dominated the first period, putting ten shots on goal compared to just five for the Hogs, second period power plays by the Wolves seemed to break the game open.

The Wolves scored on three of seven power play opportunities. Finally winning the game on a power play in the overtime period. A Wolves 5:3 led to two goals in the second period. However, the Hogs answered late in the period, putting the score at 2-1 Wolves.

Then, as Oystrick made a behind the net pass, it was picked off by Derek Nesbitt in the slot, playing on a professional tryout, for a quick Rockford goal, his first in the American Hockey League; and, a tie score at the end of the second frame.

Whether Oystrick would have been credited with an unofficial Gordie Howe hat trick at that point was rendered mute in the third period as he assisted the Wolves to go ahead again. Then, the Wolves held the Hogs till a goal by Danny Richmond forced the game into overtime with under four minutes to play. It was the second time in the game a Rockford player had scored their first goal in the AHL.

An overtime penalty against Gavin Morgan gave Chicago a 4:3 advantage. Chicago put its first line out along with blue liner Joel Kwiatkowski in an effort to win. Brett Sterling, sitting on the goal, received a pass from Jason Krog for the game-winning goal.

"We should have put this game away in regulation, but it's a positive that we still found a way to win,” Sterling said.

The Hogs lead the Wolves by three points in the Western Division, with the Wolves having four games in hand against the Hogs.

Rockford 0 2 1 0 -- 3
Chicago 0 2 1 1 -- 4

First Period---None. Penalties---Hobson, Rockford (kneeing), 2:06; Brouwer, Rockford (hooking), 8:15; Domish, Rockford (hooking) 13:04; Deveaux, Chicago (charging), 17:35.

Second Period---1, Chicago, Martins 11 (Schultz, Little), 8:19; 2, Chicago, Oystrick 6 (Krog, Sterling), 9:52; 3, Rockford, Skille 8 (Richmond, Brouwer), 16:42 pp; 4, Rockford, Nesbitt 1 (unassisted), 17:42. Penalties---Richmond, Rockford (fighting), 3:30; LaVallee, Chicago (fighting), 3:30; Morgan, Rockford (slashing), 6:50; Fraser, Rockford (fighting), 11:24; Oystrick, Chicago (fighting), 11:24; Sterling, Chicago (tripping), 14:38; Kwiatkowski, Chicago (high-sticking), 15:08; Fahey, Chicago (hooking), 18:45.

Third Period---5, Chicago, Krog 13 (Oystrick, Haydar), 12:12; 6, Rockford, Richmond 1 (Fraser, Nesbitt), 16:10. Penalties---Stokes, Rockford (tripping), 6:47.

Overtime---7, Chicago, Sterling 19 (Krog, Haydar), 4:06 pp. Penalties---Morgan, Chicago (hooking), 2:34.

Shots on goal---Rockford: 5-15-7-3--30. Chicago: 10-10-14-5--39. Power plays---Rockford: 1-4. Chicago: 3-7. Goalies---Rockford, Crawford (35-39), Chicago, Pavelec (27-30). A---8,131. Referee---Jamie Koharski. Linesmen---Peter Chichy and Al Stensland. notched an assist on the tally to complete the Gordie Howe Hat Trick (goal, assist and fighting major). - tied the game at three apiece with 3:50 remaining in regulation.

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