ABBOTSFORD, B.C. – Evan Brophey opened the scoring for Rockford on the first shot of the game and the Ice Hogs never looked back, spoiling the Abbotsford Heat’s home opener with a 5-0 win in American Hockey League action Friday night.
Brophey beat Leland Irving for his second of the season when he picked up the bounce off the end boards and put it past the Heat starter, who was down and out on the play.
“It’s definitely huge, especially for their home opener,” said Brophey. “We wanted to come out and match their intensity right off the bat and I thought we did that.
“I think everybody had more energy throughout the 60 minutes. We were just clicking all game.”
Rockford (2-2-0) took charge in the second, scoring three times on 13 shots.
Less than three minutes in Rob Klinkhammer beat Irving, who appeared to be interfered with by Kyle Beach, for his second of the early season.
The Ice Hogs then struck on the man advantage as Jeremy Morin put home his own rebound in the slot.
Jeff Taffe made it 4-0 as he picked up the loose puck stepping out of the penalty box and slid it five-hole on Irving.
“I just thought it was a solid period of hockey. I thought we did a lot of good things with the puck, but also away from the puck,” said Ice Hogs head coach Bill Peters.
“It’s good for our guys to get rewarded and we’ll have a tough task in front of us (in the rematch Saturday).”
Abbotsford forward Cam Cunning and Matt Keith both had quality scoring chances in the second, but could not solve Ice Hogs starter Alec Richards.
“I think our compete level, we sat back and didn’t take control of the game,” said Cunning. “We’ve got to learn as a team, everyone of us has to come out and be ready to play every shift.”
Brandon Pirri made it 5-0 early in the third on the power play after re-directing Brian Connolly’s shot past Irving.
Rockford finished 2-for-5 with the man advantage while Abbotsford (2-2-0) went 0-for-5.
Richards turned aside 28 shots picking up the shutout while Irving made 22 saves in the loss.