Pirri’s six-pack sparks IceHogs


(icehogs.com) — Brandon Pirri and Ben Smith combined for 10 points and sparked a sold out BMO Harris Bank Center Friday evening as the Rockford IceHogs defeated the Chicago Wolves, 7-3, in the IceHogs’ home finale. (Boxscore)

With the win, Rockford remains tied with Milwaukee for eighth place in the Western Conference, two points ahead of Chicago. The Admirals and Wolves both have two games in hand on the IceHogs.

Pirri tied AHL season highs with five assists and six points, and opened up a five-point lead over Hershey’s Jeff Taffe for the league scoring lead (21-48-69).

Smith recorded the second IceHogs hat trick of the season to go along with an assist.

Rockford peppered Chicago goaltending with a franchise-record 58 shots on goal — the most in by an AHL team since Providence took 59 shots in a game at Albany on Nov. 8, 2008 — including 25 in the second period.

Shawn Lalonde also set an all-time team record with a plus-6 rating.

The Wolves opened the scoring at the 8:30 mark of the opening period. With the puck in the Rockford zone, Brett Sterling snatched the puck from defenseman Ryan Stanton’s possession and squeaked it under IceHogs goaltender Carter Hutton to give Chicago the 1-0 advantage.

Rockford’s onslaught of goals began on their second power play of the contest and with 2:17 remaining in the first period. Down a goal, tic-tac-toe passing from Pirri to Lalonde to Smith on the doorstep resulted in the Hogs’ first tally. It marked Smith’s 20th goal on the campaign, which set a career high.

Just 1:42 into the second period and with three second remaining on a Chicago power play, Pirri stripped the puck at center ice and broke free. The center capitalized on the breakaway opportunity, finishing top-shelf for his 21st of the season, and marking his second point of the night.

Less than a minute later, Rockford came back with another tally, this time coming from reigning CCM/AHL Player of the Week Rostislav Olesz. The forward picked up a pass from winger Kyle Beach and finished top-shelf as well, giving the Hogs a 3-1 advantage. Pirri also assisted on the play for his third point of the contest.

Chicago cut into the Hogs’ lead while on their third power-play opportunity. A Brad Hunt shot through traffic was deflected by Eric Kattelus off the glove of Hutton and into the back of the net to bring the score to 3-2.

With 44.1 seconds remaining in the middle frame, a Pirri shot from the point was blocked down by Climie, but Smith was located in front of the net to pick up the rebound and stickhandle around the sprawled out goaltender to up the Hogs’ advantage to 4-2.

Joe Cannata came in net for the final period for the Wolves, but he couldn’t subdue the Hogs scoring efforts.

Less than three minutes into the final frame, Beach potted the fifth Hogs goal when he one-timed a Joakim Nordstrom pass over Cannata for his 16th goal on the campaign.

Hats went flying on to the BMO Harris Bank Center ice as Smith completed his hat trick at the 7:57 mark of the third period. Smith picked up a rebound from a Pirri shot, and finished top-shelf over Cannata for his first career hat trick. The goal marked Pirri’s fourth assist of the night.

Pirri’s record-setting sixth point came at the 16:00 mark of the third stanza when he was credited with the secondary assist on Morin’s team-leading 29th goal of the season. Smith added the primary helper for his fourth and final point of the night.

Jim Vandermeer capped the scoring with 29 seconds remaining in the game when scored on the power play for Chicago.

With 6,228 in attendance, it marked the fifth sellout of the season at the BMO Harris Bank Center, which set a franchise record for average attendance of 4,515 fans per game.