Wolves lose second straight to Tyler Sikura, IceHogs

Separated by just 70 miles, the Wolves and IceHogs are seeing each other 12 times this season. The rivalry has had moments that went viral for their ferocity, but it’s also been incredibly even.

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The Wolves and IceHogs faced off for the second of 12 times this season.

Dale Woltman/Chicago Wolves

osters change frequently in the AHL. Players don’t stay in one place long enough to get too familiar with their own settings or the fans of opposing teams.

That hasn’t stopped the Wolves and Rockford IceHogs from developing a rivalry.

IceHogs coach Derek King, who played with the Islanders and was part of heated games against the Rangers, relishes the rivalry. No, it doesn’t quite measure up to those New York matches, but King said “you can see that the guys get up for the games a little more maybe than when you go somewhere else to play.”

“It’s almost like you’re coming to Rockford you know you’ve got to hate Chicago, and the same with going to Chicago, you’ve got to learn to hate Rockford,” King said. “It’s good competition. I think it brings the best out of some players and it’s fun to coach in. I enjoy it.”

Rockford enjoyed the result Saturday thanks to two goals from Tyler Sikura, the second coming at the 4:48 mark of overtime to give the IceHogs a 3-2 win. A close game between the two franchises isn’t much of a surprise, since Saturday’s win was Rockford’s 70th in the all-time series, while the Wolves are close behind at 68.

The rivalry has had moments that went viral for their ferocity, but it’s also been incredibly even. The frequency of the matchups - 12 this season - also contributes to the intensity.

“We play each other so often and so there’s a lot of familiar faces on their side, and there’s some familiar faces obviously on our side,” Wolves coach Rocky Thompson said. “Every game is so important. (Friday) night, the intensity was probably less rivalry than it was the fact that we’ve had one win in three games, they (hadn’t) won yet. It’s an important game.”

Rivalry aside, Saturday was also an important game for the Wolves.

On Friday, the 3-2 loss in Rockford masked a slow start when they fell behind 3-0. A night later, the Wolves went down 1-0 in the first when Sikura was credited with a goal at the 12:22 mark after the shot knocked off defenseman Brayden Pachal and into the net. Unlike Friday, the Wolves answered with 4:57 to go in the period when Lucas Elvenes scored his third of the season.

Rockford re-took the lead on Philip Holm’s goal 4:50 into the third. But with 3:54 remaining, the Wolves’ Curtis McKenzie scored on a power play when his centering pass went off Dennis Gilbert and past Matt Tomkins.

“(Friday) night at Rockford, we were terrible in the first period and they scored three, but then the rest of the game we were fine and we dominated,” forward Gage Quinney said. “(Saturday), it’s the same thing. First five minutes of the third, they score and then we’re playing catch-up the whole third period.”

Still, it was better than Friday.

“I thought we competed (Saturday),” Thompson said. “We had our moments that we were on our heels, but not like (Friday) night where we didn’t compete for a third of the game and then we competed. That’s important, and that’s good and I think that helped us get a point.”

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