Tyler Sikura scored on a breakaway at 4:48 of overtime to give the Rockford IceHogs a 3-2 Illinois Lottery Cup victory over the Chicago Wolves on Saturday night at Allstate Arena.
Forwards Lucas Elvenes and Curtis McKenzie scored for the Wolves (1-3-1-0) while Garret Sparks made 36 saves, including several of the spectacular variety.
The IceHogs’ game-winning goal occurred shortly after the Wolves turned over the puck in the offensive zone, which enabled Sikura to take off ahead of the pack.
“We’re a young team,” said Wolves head coach Rocky Thompson. “I thought we made young mistakes when there was some pressure there. We had some good moments. We made some good plays, too. Our game’s just not tight enough right now, which is normal this time of the year.”
Rockford (2-3-0-0) broke on top with Tyler Sikura’s goal at the 12:22 mark of the first. Sparks rejected Sikura’s blast from the left circle during a 3-on-2 rush. The rebound thumped off Sparks’ pads, hit a Wolves defenseman and reversed direction into the net.
The Wolves pulled even at 15:04 when rookie defenseman Brayden Pachal found Elvenes open as he raced through the right circle. Elvenes’ pinpoint shot eluded goaltender Matt Tomkins for his third goal of the year.
Rockford regained the lead 4:50 into the third period when defenseman Philip Holm, who helped the Wolves win the 2018 Central Division crown, collected a Aleksi Saarela pass in the left circle and wristed a shot top-shelf.
The Wolves answered again as McKenzie produced a power-play goal with 3:54 left in regulation. McKenzie was rushing through the right circle when he tried to backhand a pass across the crease to teammate Nicolas Roy. An IceHogs defender went to the ice to smother the pass, but he redirected the puck through Tomkins’ legs to make it 2-2.
Tomkins (1-0-0) made 31 saves in his first game of the season.