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Matt Tomkins wins 3rd straight, Rockford IceHogs top Chicago Wolves 4-2

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Tomkins made 31 saves for Rockford to improve to 5-0 this season against Chicago.

Rockford IceHogs goaltender Matt Tomkins makes a save in front of Chicago Wolves forward Tye McGinn, left, in Rockford’s 4-2 win Friday, Nov. 29, 2019, at the BMO Harris Bank Center in Rockford.
Todd Reicher/Rockford IceHogs

ROCKFORD, Ill. — Matt Tomkins made 31 saves for his third straight win in the Rockford IceHogs’ 4-2 victory over the Chicago Wolves on Friday night at the BMO Harris Bank Center.

Alexandre Fortin and John Quenneville each had a goal and assist for Rockford (10-8-0-1), which won its fifth straight against the Wolves (9-13-1-0) this season. Dylan Sikura and Brandon Hagel also scored.

“A look at the first period (Friday night), controlled the whole play and the whole period, and that carried throughout the game,” said Tomkins, who is 4-1 with a 2.38 goals-against average and .921 save percentage this season. “It’s been easy on me and just a great team game overall.”

Ben Jones and Brandon Pirri both scored for the Wolves, who are 3-8 in their last 11 games. Oscar Dansk made 22 saves.

Quenneville gave the IceHogs a 1-0 lead at 15:24 of the first period when he fired a wrist shot around Curtis McKenzie from the slot that banked off the bottom of the right post and into the net. It was Quenneville’s first game against the Wolves since he suffered an upper-body injury Oct. 19 that sidelined him for almost a month.

“I didn’t think for that,” Quenneville said about having extra motivation against Chicago. “I was just thinking of it as our rival team. You want to show up and set the tone. That’s what it’s all about. We want to go into their rink and beat up on them and they want to do the same thing, of course that’s hockey.”

Fortin collected a rebound at the hashmarks of the left faceoff circle and sent it past Dansk’s blocker side at 3:50 of the second period to make it 2-0.

With the game at 4-on-4 due to dueling penalties by Tim Soderlund and McKenzie, Sikura increased Rockford’s lead to 3-0 at 6:01. Philipp Kurashev sent a pass to the slot for Sikura, who backhanded a shot past Dansk. Sikura is tied with his older brother, Tyler Sikura, for the team lead in goals (eight) and points (13) with Dylan playing one less game.

Jones cut the lead to 3-1 at 9:27 off a feed from Jared Loewen, who recorded his first AHL point on the goal.

Hagel scored on a breakaway at 11:28 to make it 4-1. Hagel has five points in his last five games, and leads all IceHogs rookies this season with 10 points.

“He’s been real good,” Rockford head coach Derek King said of Hagel. “He’s a real solid player. It’s just one of those things development wise where he’s got a get a little bit bigger and stronger like everybody. Other than that he’s got all the tools.”

Pirri’s slap shot from the left faceoff circle on the power play trimmed the deficit to 4-2 at 15:42. Tomkins then pushed the net off its moorings in frustration.

“The net was off,” Tomkins said. “I thought during the play, and I thought that was one of the reasons it went in. Just a little bit of frustration there. It was heat of the moment type of thing.”

Rockford was 3-for-4 on the penalty kill, including killing off two penalties with less than 10 minutes remaining in the game. The IceHogs were also 0-for-4 on the power play after scoring two goals on the man advantage in their last game, a 3-2 loss Tuesday at San Antonio.

What’s next

The IceHogs play the second game of a back-to-back Saturday against the Grand Rapids Griffins (Red Wings) at 5 p.m. at the BMO Harris Bank Center.