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High On The Hog: Rasmussen Gets A Call From The Hawks

After a big week of action that saw the Rockford IceHogs hold two consecutive opponents scoreless, the Chicago Blackhawks called up a forward. That player may come as a bit of a surprise. Dennis Rasmussen will be joining the Blackhawks as they head on their post-All-Star break road trip.

The 24-year-old center is in his rookie season in Rockford and has eight goals and eight assists in 44 games with the IceHogs. He’s a plus-ten and has been a mainstay on a strong penalty kill unit.

With Kris Versteeg moving to the injured reserve list and Daniel Carcillo serving five more games of suspension, it makes sense that Chicago brings up a 13th forward to take on the road. Rasmussen has played pretty well, has good size (6’3”, 201) and should be able to perform defensively in a lower-line role.

However, it would seem that the Hawks are set up well at center and may have benefited by recalling a wing…specifically Mark McNeill or Garret Ross. This doesn’t figure to be a long stint for whoever was recalled, though.

Chicago may just want to see what they have in the free agent signed last summer from Sweden. This also may be a cap-related move to maximize Versteeg’s stint on LTIR, as was Stephen Johns’ short stay with the Hawks earlier this season. In any event, add Rasmussen’s name to the list of Rockford players to be recalled to the NHL.


McNeill Headed For Utica

McNeill was named the replacement for Joakim Nordstrom at the AHL All-Star Classic. McNeill hasn’t been as hot as he was in November before suffering a lower body injury but he still is second on the team with 12 goals.

McNeill also has 11 helpers on the season and is a plus-nine. Despite just a pair of goals and one assist this month, McNeill has been a key to a very aggressive PK effort. McNeill is not the only IceHogs forward struggling in the scoring department at the moment, so to see him in uniform for the Western Conference certainly isn’t a stretch.


Where Rockford Sits At The Break

The Hogs go into the All-Star Break with a record of 25-13-4-2, good for 56 points in 44 games. Saturday’s win over Utica vaulted Rockford into second place in the Western Conference.

The Midwest Division is going to be tough as the season winds down. Milwaukee trails the IceHogs by three points right now and has three games in hand. The Admirals, who have won nine in a row, have three straight games with Rockford February 6, 7 and 13.

In fact, no team in the Western Conference has played as many games as the IceHogs at this point of the season, so Rockford will have to play well to stay near the top. However, recent seasons have seen the Hogs outside the playoff picture around this time, so it’s hard to complain about their play so far this season.


Last Week’s Action

Monday, January 19-Chicago 4, Rockford 1

This one got away from the IceHogs in the final 20 minutes as Chicago busted out a trifecta of goals to win this special holiday matinee.

Rockford’s lone tally in this contest came off the stick of Pierre-Cedric Labrie, who posted a shorthanded goal during a lengthy Wolves power play. Ryan Hartman had caught Chicago forward Colin Fraser with a high stick in the opening period. No call was initially given but once Fraser showed his heavily-stitched chin to the officials, a double minor was called that gave the Wolves four minutes of man advantage time to begin the middle frame.

Labrie’s goal tied the game and it was 1-1 after two periods. However, Shane Harper delivered the game-winner with a power play goal in the fifth minute of the third period. Pat Cannone added an insurance goal midway through the period and Fraser sealed Rockford’s fate with an empty netter in the final minutes.

Hartman was summarily given a one-game suspension for the high stick on Fraser. Making matters worse was Stephen Johns twisting his knee quite badly in the second period. Johns, who was playing in just his third game since a concussion November 26, was helped from the ice and will miss 2-3 weeks, according to the team.

Lines (Starters in italics)
Garret Ross-Phillip Danault-Mark McNeill
Brandon Mashinter-Peter Regin(A)-Pierrre-Cedric Labrie(A)
Matt Carey-Dennis Rasmussen-Ryan Hartman
Ryan Schnell-Drew LeBlanc-Cody Bass

Klas Dahlbeck(A)-Stephen Johns
T.J. Brennan-Ville Pokka
Viktor Svedberg-Adam Clendening

Scott Darling

Scratches-Zach Miskovic, Kyle Cumiskey, Jamie Wise, Alex Broadhurst

Power Play (0-3 for the afternoon)

Penalty Kill (Chicago was 2-7, though Labrie had the shorty)


Thursday, January 22-Rockford 1, Iowa 0

Michael Leighton delivered with his fourth shutout of the season, lifting the Hogs to a road win in DesMoines.

Something about the Wells Fargo Arena gets Rockford in a shooting mood. The IceHogs outshot Iowa 16-3 in the first period on the way to tossing 42 shots at John Curry. The Wild net minder stopped all but a Matt Carey power play tally 13:16 into the final frame. Carey took a pass from T.J. Brennan in the slot and fired past Curry for the lone goal of the game.

Leighton who had stopped a two-man rush to the Rockford net off a Viktor Svedberg turnover earlier in the period, was easily the first star of this contest. Leighton stopped every one of the 23 shots offered by Iowa.

Lineup (Starters in italics)
Garret Ross-Phillip Danault-Mark McNeill
Brandon Mashinter-Peter Regin(A)-Pierrre-Cedric Labrie
Matt Carey-Dennis Rasmussen-Cody Bass (A)
Ryan Schnell-Drew LeBlanc-Jamie Wise

T.J. Brennan-Ville Pokka
Klas Dahlbeck-Kyle Cumiskey
Adam Clendening(A)-Viktor Svedberg

Michael Leighton

Scratches-Zach Miskovic, Stephen Johns, Ryan Hartman, Alex Broadhurst

Power Play (1-3 for the night)

Penalty Kill (shut down all five Iowa chances)


Saturday, January 24-Rockford 3, Utica 0

It was Scott Darling’s turn to post a shutout as the Hogs entered the All-Star break with an impressive victory over the Comets, who lead the AHL’s North Division.

Jacob Markstrom, starting in goal for the Western Conference Monday night in the AHL’s All-Star Classic, was in net for Utica but the IceHogs were able to figure him out. Rockford scored late in the first on the game’s first power play.

With the time in the man advantage running out, Klas Dahlbeck floated a shot from the top of the left circle. The puck escaped the eyes of Markstrom and went in high to the glove side. Whether Markstrom was screened by Pierre-Cedric Labrie or simply was fooled by the changeup, the IceHogs led 1-0 at the 17:44 mark and held that advantage going into the first intermission.

Rockford’s penalty kill made a strong stand when Garret Ross was called for a cross check in the seventh minute of the second frame. The Hogs got a breakaway chance from Labrie (his third in as many games) and an odd man rush, both of which were stopped by Markstrom.

However, soon after the penalty expired, Rockford came into the Comets zone with numbers. Adam Clendening hit Ross driving into the slot and the kitten was flipped over Markstrom’s mitten. The IceHogs owned a 2-0 lead 9:08 into the period.

Labrie secured the third Rockford goal early in the third period, sending another changeup from the left circle as the Hogs attempted to set up in the Utica zone. The puck caught the toll taker napping and snuck into the Promised Land 3:52 in. The softie on Markstrom closed out the scoring and sent a full house at the BMO home with Rockford’s second straight win.

Darling, who had dedicated his game to his mother on the Hogs Pink in the Rink night for breast cancer awareness, came up with 31 saves for his second shutout of the season. He was named first star of the game, with Labrie and Clendening rounding out the three stars.

Lines (Starters in italics)
Brandon Mashinter-Peter Regin(A)-Pierre-Cedric Labrie(A)
Garret Ross-Phillip Danault-Mark McNeill
Matt Carey-Dennis Rasmussen-Ryan Hartman
Drew LeBlanc-Jamie Wise-Cody Bass

T.J. Brennan-Ville Pokka
Klas Dahlbeck(A)-Kyle Cumiskey
Viktor Svedberg-Adam Clendening

Scott Darling

Scratches-Zach Miskovic, Stephen Johns, Alex Broadhurst, Ryan Schnell

Power Play (A goal in two chances)

Penalty Kill (Held Utica scoreless in four chances)


Next Up: A Pair With The Wolves

The IceHogs (minus Brennan and McNeill, who are playing Monday in Utica) are off until Friday. This weekend is a big home-and-home with the Chicago Wolves, starting Friday in Rockford.

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