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Rockford Report: IceHogs top Stars in Mark McNeill’s return

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And Matheson Iacopelli scored his first professional goal with Rockford in the win.

One of the recently added rookies got the game-winner in a 3-1 IceHogs victory over the Texas Stars Friday night at the BMO Harris Bank Center in Rockford.

On Thursday, Vinnie Hinostroza was recalled to Chicago while Matheson Iacopelli and William Pelltier were signed to the IceHogs with amateur tryout contracts. Iacopelli, 22, also signed to a two-year NHL deal with the Blackhawks beginning next season. Texas signed former Michigan Tech star Reid Sturos to an ATO at age 24. The contest also marked the Rockford return of fan-favorite Mark McNeill, who was traded to the Dallas Stars earlier this season after several productive years in Rockford.

First period action saw only one score at the 8:17 mark. A Texas breakaway was aborted from behind resulting in a penalty shot. Rockford netminder Lars Johansson was beat by Stars forward Caleb Herbert to open the scoring. A facial injury to Hogs wing Tyler Motte just four minutes in resulted in extra line changes as Rockford looked to juggle new additions while making up for recent subtractions on a roster collectively struggling to find the net.

Motte could miss the game Saturday night as a result.

Rockford finally got the monkey off its back after over 168 minutes of scoreless hockey just 35 ticks into the second period. During a power play carried over from the first, Brandon Mashinter broke the streak by beating Stars goalie Justin Peters to tie the game at 1-1. Mashinter now leads the Hogs in goals with 15. The confidence level rose for the Hogs in the second with tighter defense and a steady rise of shots on goal to push their total to 26 pucks through two periods.

Entering the final 20 minutes, Texas was still looking to gain ground in the Pacific Division playoff chase with Bakersfield and Stockton. At the halfway point of period three, a newcomer lit the lamp for Rockford when Iacopelli scored his first professional goal, assisted by Michael Latta and Evan Mosey, to put the home team up 2-1. A late Texas flurry with Peters pulled came up short and at 19:38 Jake Dowell found the empty net (shorthanded) to set the final 3-1 Hogs. Johansson totaled 29 saves for his efforts in net. Shots favored Rockford, 36-30.

No rest for the weary with the Hogs hosting the first-place Grand Rapids Griffins at 7:00 p.m. CT on Saturday night at the BMO.