Mink's Career Game Lifts Rivermen Over Rockford
Opponent: @Rockford IceHogs
Date: February 21, 2011 2:05
Score(Home/Away): 3-6 W
Graham Mink and the Peoria Rivermen offense exploded on Monday afternoon in a 6-3 win over the Rockford IceHogs at the Rockford MetroCentre. Mink recorded his first four-goal game since March 16, 2002 when he was a member of the Portland Pirates. He became the second Rivermen to record a hat trick this season.
The win snapped Peoria’s three-game losing skid and improved their record to 6-2-0-0 against the IceHogs this season. Peoria (32-21-2-3, 69 pts) jumped San Antonio in the West Division standings and advanced to fourth place, two points behind division leaders Milwaukee and Houston.
After scoring a combined three goals in the last three games, the Rivermen opened up the floodgates by scoring four goals in the first 19 minutes against Rockford goaltender Alec Richards. The first of those came at the 3:48 mark when Graham Mink buried his sixth power-play goal of the season. Only 7 seconds after Brian Connelly was called for delay of game, T.J. Hensick won a face-off on the left dot and got it to Mink who gave Peoria a 1-0 lead. Hensick and Adam Cracknell notched the helpers.
The Rivermen made it 2-0 less than 4 minutes later when Mink scored again at 7:44. Ian Cole, celebrating his 22nd birthday, found Mink on the right circle who put a wrist shot over the right shoulder of Richards.
Rockford’s Jeff Taffe cut the lead in half at the 14:09 mark of the first period. Taffe brought the puck into the Rivermen defensive zone with a 2-on-1, but didn’t use the help. Instead, he wristed a shot towards the upper part of the net as Jake Allen went down, resulting in a 2-1 score. Ryan Potulny picked up the only assist on the goal.
Nick Drazenovic answered right back at 15:09 with his 16th goal of the year. During a delayed penalty call, Dave Spina put a slap shot on goal. Richards could not hold onto the puck and gave a rebound opportunity up to Drazenovic who made the most of it just outside the crease.
Hensick provided the fourth and final tally of the first period at the 18:39 mark with his team-leading 17th of the season. The veteran displayed his speed by skating past the blue line through the slot and towards the right side of the net. Hensick then beat Richards near side. Mark Cundari and Nathan Oystrick were credited with the assists.
At the 8:02 mark of the second, while on the power play, Cole took a slapshot from the blue line that was tipped in the crease by Mink for his third goal of the game. It was Mink’s first hat trick since Oct. 8, 2008 with Hershey. Cole and Cundari each picked up their second assists of the game as well.
Rockford’s all-star selection Brian Connelly gave the IceHogs their second goal of the game at 1:25 of the third period. Shawn Lalonde fed Connelly a crisp pass along the blueline who turned and took a slap shot through traffic, past Allen, and into the back of the net. Lalonde and Brandon Pirri got the helpers.
A mistake at the blueline gave Rockford’s Peter LaBlanc a breakaway opportunity halfway through the final frame. LaBlanc came through with the chance, sliding the puck just past Allen’s left toe as he moved to his right. The goal made it 5-3 at the 10:19 mark.
The final tally of the game came less than 4 minutes later from whom other than Mink. At 14:09 of the third period following a Garnet Excelby roughing minor, Hensick controlled the puck in the left corner behind Rockford’s goal. He then fed a pass into the crease that was knocked in by Mink before Richards could glove it.
Mink’s four-goal game is tied with Derek Nesbitt (Jan. 5, 2011), Derek Armstrong (Jan. 30, 2010), and Jean-Guy Trudel (Dec. 28, 2007) for the most goals in a single game since the Rivermen joined the AHL.
Allen finished with 28 saves on 31 shots in picking up the victory. He is now 4-0-0-0 against the IceHogs. Richards ended the game saving 32 of 38 Rivermen shots.
Peoria also ended the contest 3-for-5 on the power play while the Rivermen penalty kill went a perfect 4-for-4.