Dylan Sikura scored three goals in a six-minute stretch of the third period to rally the Rockford IceHogs to a 7-4 victory over the Chicago Wolves in Illinois Lottery Cup action Sunday afternoon.
Defensemen Zach Whitecloud and Jimmy Schuldt and forwards Lucas Elvenes and Reid Duke scored for the Wolves (6-5-1-0), who surrendered the chance for a sixth win in their last seven games that would have pulled them within two points of first place in the AHL’s Central Division.
Sikura’s hat trick highlighted a four-goal spree that transformed a 4-2 Wolves lead at the third period’s midpoint into a 6-4 IceHogs advantage with 3:20 to go.
The Wolves seized the early lead on Whitecloud’s power-play tally 11:59 into the game. Keegan Kolesar’s cross-ice pass set Whitecloud’s one-timer blast from the left circle that served as his first goal of the season and gave the Wolves a 1-0 lead.
Elvenes came through with his fifth goal of the year at 14:27 to make it 2-0. His pull-and-drag move fooled an IceHogs defender and got him into the slot. Elvenes tried to dish to a teammate breaking to the net, but it went off a skate and back to Elvenes for a deft backhand.
The Wolves pushed their lead to 3-0 at 5:51 of the second. Elvenes spun away from an IceHogs forward along the boards, then spied Schuldt breaking to the left circle for a whistled wrister that beat goaltender Collin Delia on the glove side.
Schuldt’s first professional goal doubled as forward Paul Cotter’s first professional point – and sparked a spree where each team scored two goals in a four-minute, 48-second span.
Rockford (5-5-0-0) got on the board with center Jacob Nilsson’s redirect, but Duke responded with a backhand from close range to restore a 4-1 Wolves lead at 9:48. IceHogs forward MacKenzie Entwistle capped the flurry with a goal at 10:51 to cut the margin to 4-2.
Dylan Sikura’s power-play goal pulled Rockford within 4-3 with 9:18 remaining, then Brandon Hagel roofed a shot from close range to forge the 4-4 tie with 7:53 to go. Sikura’s one-timer from the right faceoff dot with 6:23 left gave Rockford its first lead.
Sikura wrapped up his hat trick when his brother, Tyler, fed him just outside the crease for a quick shot at 16:40. Reese Johnson added an empty-netter with 22 seconds left to make it 7-4.
Delia (2-3-0) finished with 21 saves while Wolves goaltender Oscar Dansk (2-3-0) stopped 16 of 22 shots.
The Wolves wrap up their five-game road trip at 10:30 a.m. Thursday against Iowa. Chicago returns to Allstate Arena on Saturday, Nov. 9, to face Manitoba as part of Military Appreciation Weekend.