TORONTO 9, CONNECTICUT 2
Led by five points from Christian Hanson, the Toronto Marlies rolled to a 9-2 win over Connecticut in front of a school-day crowd of 7,779 at Ricoh Coliseum on Wednesday.
Hanson had a goal and four assists, matching his offensive output from his previous 11 games combined. Alex Foster, who had scored twice in his previous 29 games, picked up two goals and two assists. Danny Richmond entered the game with 0-1-1 in 17 contests since Christmas, then dished out four assists.
Nazem Kadri, Marcel Mueller, Ryan Hamilton, Jeff Cowan and Simon Gysbers gave the Marlies a 5-0 lead at the first intermission, as Toronto scored more goals (five) than it allowed shots (four) in the opening period.
Jonas Gustavsson stopped all four shots he faced in the first period, and Jussi Rynnas made 20 saves on 22 shots the rest of the way as the Marlies moved to within one point of third-place Lake Erie in the North Division.
Toronto, which heads out for a four-game road trip to Abbotsford and Winnipeg, has now won five of its last seven games and is 7-2-0-0 against Eastern Conference opponents in 2010-11.
OKLAHOMA CITY 2, SAN ANTONIO 0
Martin Gerber made 33 saves for his fourth shutout of the season, backstopping Oklahoma City to a crucial 2-0 win over San Antonio on Wednesday afternoon.
Alexandre Giroux and Chris Vandevelde scored for the Barons, who closed to one point behind the San Antonio, Milwaukee and Houston for first place in the West Division entering Wednesday’s evening action.
Defenseman Bryan Helmer played his 999th career AHL game for the Barons; he will have to wait more than a week for number 1,000, as Oklahoma City is now off until taking on Abbotsford in Calgary on Feb. 18.
The Rampage have now scored one goal on 96 shots in their last three meetings with Gerber and the Barons, including two consecutive shutout losses.
HERSHEY 2, MANCHESTER 1 (SO)
Boyd Kane tallied the lone shootout goal for either side in the fifth round, sending red-hot Hershey to a 2-1 road win over Manchester on Wednesday at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
Bears goaltender Todd Ford made 28 saves on 29 shots through the first 60 minutes before turning aside all five of Manchester’s attempts in the shootout.
Defenseman Patrick McNeill gave Hershey a 1-0 lead midway through the opening period with his second goal of the year, but Monarchs forward Bud Holloway answered late in the second frame, tallying his 17th goal.
The Bears earned a sweep of their two-game regular-season series with the Monarchs and extended their overall points streak to 10 games (9-0-0-1). At 32-14-1-3 overall, Hershey moved back within eight points of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for first place in the East Division.
Despite the shootout loss, Manchester’s own points streak now stands at seven games (4-0-0-3). The Monarchs moved three points up on idle Portland for the Atlantic Division’s top spot.
ABBOTSFORD 1, ROCHESTER 0
Matt Keith notched the game’s lone goal, and Leland Irving posted a 30-save shutout as Abbotsford wrapped up a season-high 10-game road trip with a 1-0 win over Rochester on Wednesday at Blue Cross Arena.
Irving collected his fourth shutout of the season and his league-leading 22nd victory (22-16-2), and he made 15 of his 30 saves during a third period in which Rochester held a 15-8 shots advantage.
The Heat finished their road trip at 5-4-0-1 and will return to the Entertainment & Sports Centre to host Toronto for a pair of tilts this weekend.
The Americans have now dropped two straight games – totaling one goal in that span – on the heels of a three-game winning streak.
HOUSTON 4, ROCKFORD 1
Houston fell into a 1-0 hole after the opening 20 minutes but then scored four unanswered goals to take a 4-1 road decision from Rockford at the MetroCentre on Wednesday.
Patrick O’Sullivan and defenseman Nate Prosser each had a goal and an assist for the Aeros, while Jean-Michel Daoust and Carson McMillan also scored. McMillan’s tally went into an empty net in the closing seconds to seal the Aeros’ victory.
Houston rookie goaltender Matt Hackett earned the win with 24 saves on 25 shots in net.
The Aeros (31-19-1-3) extended their winning streak to a season-high four games and improved to 11-1-0-1 in their last 13 contests. Houston maintained its place atop the West Division with 66 points.
Jeff Taffe initially gave the IceHogs a 1-0 lead on the power play late in the opening frame, but Rockford dropped to 1-6-1-0 in its last eight contests.
GRAND RAPIDS 7, CHICAGO 5
Francis Pare racked up a game-high four points (1-3-4), and Grand Rapids scored four times in the opening period en route to a 7-5 road win over Chicago on Wednesday at Allstate Arena.
Grand Rapids jumped out to a 5-0 advantage by early in the second period before Chicago scored the game’s next four goals to pull within 5-4. Pare’s marker 15:20 turned out to be the game-winner for the Griffins, who recorded their greatest offensive output since a 10-8 win over the Wolves in the same building on Nov. 27.
The Wolves, who fell to 1-3-0-1 in their last five outings, got goals from Darren Haydar (1-1-2), Riley Holzapfel, Nigel Dawes, Andrew Kozek, and Ryan Garbutt. Defensemen Paul Postma (0-3-3) and Mark Matheson (0-2-2) had multiple assists in the losing effort.
PEORIA 4, MILWAUKEE 3 (SO)
Chris Porter’s sixth-round shootout goal sent Peoria to a 4-3 come-from-behind win over division-rival Milwaukee on Wednesday at the Bradley Center.
Nicholas Drazenovic also scored in the shootout for the Rivermen, who rallied back from a 3-0 deficit in regulation and won for just the second time in their last six games (2-3-0-1).
Milwaukee entered the night with an 18-1-2-2 record when leading after two periods, but Peoria bucked the trend by tallying three goals in the final 20 minutes. Derek Peltier notched his first of the season at 1:10, and then red-hot T.J. Hensick scored at 3:30 and 18:08 to tie it up.
Rivermen goaltender Ben Bishop stopped 39 of 42 shots through regulation and overtime before denying five of six in the shootout. Mark Santorelli netted Milwaukee’s lone shootout goal in the opening round.
Milwaukee’s four-game winning streak came to an end.