Goaltender Garret Sparks broke the Chicago Wolves franchise record for longest shutout streak, but the Rockford IceHogs rallied for a 4-1 victory in Illinois Lottery Cup action on Sunday afternoon at Allstate Arena.
Over the course of four games, Sparks went 191 minutes, 14 seconds without allowing a goal. That broke the Wolves record of 173:57 set by Matt Climie in Jan. 2013. The Elmhurst native rejected 115 consecutive shots during his streak that began during the second period Oct. 23 against Texas.
“I thought Garret played really well and kept us in the game,” said Wolves head coach Rocky Thompson. “I thought our special teams was really good today and gave us an opportunity to maybe squeak out a potential win – or a point.”
Defenseman Dylan Coghlan scored for the Wolves (7-7-1) while forwards Anton Wedin, Matthew Highmore and Tyler Sikura and defenseman Lucas Carlsson scored for the IceHogs (7-6-0). Rockford posted two empty-net goals in the final two minutes.
The Wolves jumped on the board on their first power-play opportunity. Defenseman Jimmy Schuldt and forward Lucas Elvenes moved the puck on the perimeter before Schuldt set up Coghlan for a one-timer from the top of the left circle. Coghlan’s blast went between goaltender Matt Tomkins’ legs at 18:21 of the first.
The IceHogs finally solved Sparks on their 24th shot of the night. Former Wolves defenseman Philip Holm steered a pass into the slot for forward Anton Wedin, who redirected the puck over Sparks’ right shoulder for a 1-1 tie at 14:28 of the second period.
“In the second period, we took a penalty right away and that hurt us for the rest of the period,” Thompson said. “It was really difficult to recover from it.:”
Rockford took the lead with 11:29 remaining when defenseman Lucas Carlsson collected a pass on the left wing and slalomed his way toward the left circle for a quick blast that made it 2-1 IceHogs.
Thompson called a timeout with two minutes left and pulled Sparks to get an extra attacker on the ice, but Rockford’s Highmore raced the length of the ice and scored an empty-net goal seven seconds later to push the margin to 3-1. Sikura added another empty-netter with 35 seconds to go.
Tomkins (2-1-0) finished with 18 saves while Sparks (4-3-1) stopped 34 of 36 shots.
The Wolves travel to Milwaukee on Wednesday night before returning home at 7 p.m. Saturday to face the Iowa Wild.