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High On The Hog: View From The Top

The Rockford IceHogs were left a bit shorthanded for last weekend’s action. Adam Clendening, Joakim Nordstrom and Phillip Danault are all traveling with the Blackhawks. Mark McNeill and Michael Leighton are recovering from injuries. It wasn’t a stretch for you to believe the Hogs might take some lumps with three Midwest Division games in three days.

In this case, you’d be wrong.

Rockford ran the table this weekend, winning home games with Iowa and Milwaukee at the BMO Friday and Saturday before shutting out the Wolves in Chicago Sunday afternoon. With 29 points through 19 games, Rockford (14-4-0-1) is currently on top of the AHL.

Stepping Up To The Trough

With injuries and call-ups hitting the roster hard, several players raised their games over the weekend to help build what is now a four-game win streak.

Ryan Schnell, the lone forward on an AHL deal, missed time with a hand injury suffered last month in Toronto. Schnell, who hails from Cary, Illinois, got back into action November 14 and played in all three games this weekend.

The 6’3”, 225-pound wing was a big part of a comeback win Friday against Iowa, posting a Gordie Howe Hat Trick. He added a helper in Saturday’s win over the Admirals. Coach Ted Dent had confidence in Schnell as the weekend progressed. Schnell was out on the PK unit in Chicago Sunday. He certainly took advantage of a chance to showcase his physical game.

Mac Carruth has been waiting for a chance in net. With Leighton still a few days away from being ready to roll and Scott Darling having started Friday and Saturday nights, Dent put Carruth between the pipes. Carruth responded with the finest game of his short IceHogs career.

Carruth shut out the Wolves, stopping all 23 shots sent his way. This included several highlight-quality saves. Leighton is expected back this week but Carruth made his case to Dent as best he could. Next step for Carruth is to go down to Indy and build on Sunday’s performance.

Zach Miskovic, often a healthy scratch due to the dearth of defensive prospects in Rockford, played Saturday and Sunday. He was part of a seven-man rotation on the blue line against Milwaukee and skated as the 12th forward Sunday.

Miskovic, who signed an AHL deal with Rockford before the Hawks traded for T.J. Brennan and Ville Pokka, probably saw himself on the ice more than he has been this season. The River Forrest native was solid filling in as needed this past weekend.

 

Teuvo’s Adventures In Shawshank

Many of you crave an update on Teuvo Teravainen, who was pointless over the weekend. Here’s some initial food for thought concerning two players, their perception by fans and their production so far:

Brandon Mashinter, ham-handed enforcer: 4 G, 7 A, 11 points, plus-three (16 games).
Teuvo Teravainen, savior of the second line: 2 G, 8 A, 10 points, minus-four (17 games).

Maybe Teravainen is going to excel in the NHL and maybe Mashinter is a fourth-liner at best in that league, but I want you to ponder those numbers. (Mashinter, who often skates on Teravainen’s wing, had three points on the weekend, by the way).

By all accounts (Chris Block and Scott Powers), the young Finnish forward is experiencing frustration playing in the AHL. There are times where he makes a pass that isn’t handled by a less-talented line mate. I’ll also point out that Teravainen is often replaced in the faceoff circle by the likes of Peter Regin and Cody Bass.

Teravainen is a set-up man by trade and if he isn’t piling up assists his point totals aren’t going to be padded with a ton of goals. He’s been shooting more (second on the team with 44 shots this season), so we could see a goal-explosion in his next few games.

Let me stress that he hasn’t been a train wreck out there. On the other hand, this would have been a great weekend for the Hawks most hyped prospect to break out with a display of his vaunted skills. My most notable weekend observation of Teravainen’s play was Friday night when he got beat to a rebound, leading to an Iowa goal.

I hope I can report a big week for the kid in my next post. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope…

 

Broadhurst Struggling To Repeat Rookie Success

Last season, Alex Broadhurst posted impressive numbers in his rookie season, scoring 45 points (16 G, 29 A) in 75 games. Older brother Terry was an assist away from matching Alex’s 2013-14 totals.

The Blackhawks did not re-sign Terry Broadhurst this past summer. I was a bit surprised, though there is a lot of talent skating in Rockford and the Orland Park native was the odd man out. Terry signed an AHL deal with the Wolves and faced off with his brother for the first time in their pro careers on Sunday.

Terry has three goals and six helpers for Chicago in 15 games. Alex’s season has not been as successful. Broadhurst has been scratched on five occasions and has just two assists in 14 contests.

Through the same amount of playing time last year, Broadhurst had four goals and seven assists and was consistently getting pucks to the net. Sunday, he did manage a pair of shots. However, this was the first time in over a month that he registered multiple shots on goal in a game.

With some of this year’s top scorers toiling for the Hawks, this is a key stretch for Alex Broadhurst. He’s going to have to produce and soon to turn his season around.

 

Recapping The Weekend’s Action

Friday, November 21-Rockford 4, Iowa 3 (OT)

In what was a sloppy affair for the first 40 minutes, the shorthanded Hogs tied the game midway through the third period. Rockford took the second point in the fifth minute of extra time thanks to Ryan Hartman’s second goal of the evening.

The going was tough to say the least early in this contest. An interference call on Cody Bass led to a quick Iowa power play goal before the end of the second minute. Meanwhile, the IceHogs couldn’t seem to get a puck to stick to the tape. Rockford fired 16 shots on Wild goalie Johan Gustafsson but failed to connect on what could have been several prime scoring chances.

Ryan Schnell tied the contest 3:32 into the middle frame, taking an Alex Broadhurst pass from behind the net and skating to the right dot. With no pass options, Schnell snapped off a shot that beat Gustafsson for Schnell’s first goal of the season.

The action really picked up in a 65 second span later in the period. Justin Falk gave Iowa a 2-1 lead 13:57 into the second. Less than a minute later, Garret Ross capped off a nice shift in the Wild zone by hitting Viktor Svedberg at the top of the left circle. The one-timer was off the left post and in to tie the game at two.

On the next shift, Scott Darling gave up a juicy rebound of a Stephane Villieux attempt. Teuvo Teravainen was a little…um…lazy late in defending Kurtis Gabriel in the slot and Iowa regained a 3-2 advantage that they would hold at the intermission.

Coach Ted Dent made some line adjustments, taking Teravainen off the top line, sliding Peter Regin to the middle and inserting Ryan Hartman to skate with Regin and Brandon Mashinter. At that point, Rockford began to click as much as it would on this night.

Darling turned away an odd-man Iowa rush, leading to Hartman bringing the puck out of the Hogs zone. The biscuit went from Hartman to Regin to Schnell, who sent the puck toward Gustafsson. Hartman picked up some love on the rebound, tying the game 3-3 when his put-back from the slot kissed cord 8:52 into the final stanza.

The overtime winner was set up by a nice rush to the net by T.J. Brennan. Brennan went coast to coast after corralling a rebound and got a wraparound attempt on the Iowa net that Gustafsson managed to stop. However, Hartman kept on knocking and the BMO started rocking. The backhand on the doorstep ended the contest with the Hogs on top.

Despite scoring both the equalizer and the game-winners, Hartman could only muster second star honors for the contest. First star went to Schell, who garnered a Gordie Howe Hat Trick despite getting the worst of it from Joel Rechlicz in the second period.

Lines (starters in italics)
Brandon Mashinter (A)-Teuvo Teravainen-Peter Regin
Garret Ross-Drew LeBlanc-Cody Bass
Matt Carey-Dennis Rasmussen-Ryan Hartman
Ryan Schnell-Alex Broadhurst-Pierre-Cedric Labrie (A)

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

Scott Darling

Scratches-Zach Miskovic, Mark McNeill, Michael Leighton

Power Play
Mashinter-Teravainen-Regin-Brennan-Pokka
Carey-Rasmussen-Hartman-Dahlbeck-Cumiskey

Penalty Kill
Hartman-Labrie-Dahlbeck-Johns
Ross-Bass-Brennan-Pokka

 

Saturday, November 22-Rockford 3, Milwaukee 2

The IceHogs had lost eight straight meetings with the Admirals, including three already this season. On this night, however, Rockford got a big effort from Scott Darling to post a huge win in a very physical contest with a Midwest Division rival.

The Hogs took advantage of their first power play opportunity midway through the opening period. Kyle Cumiskey, playing on a new look second power play unit (see below), took a pass from Dennis Rasmussen at the top of the Ads zone and let it rip over Marek Mazanac’s glove. Puck and twine had a tearful reunion at the 8:49 mark to give Rockford a 1-0 lead.

Rasmussen got in on the goal scoring with an opportunistic tally in the fourth minute of the second period. Ryan Schnell set up Zach Miskovic with a nice pass from the half boards to the right dot. Mazanac came up with the pad save but the rebound met the Swede on the front porch. Rasmussen cued the horn and with 3:26 gone in the middle frame, the Hogs owned a two-goal advantage.

At this point, things started getting rough and the Ads climbed back into the game. The IceHogs killed off a Peter Regin roughing infraction but Garrett Noonan scored before Regin could get back into action.

Schnell did a little too much chirping after Michael Liambas interfered with Darling a couple of minutes later and both wound up in the sin bin. Both came out of the box swinging, with Schnell earning a decision in a closely contested bout. Hogs broadcaster Ted Dent cracked me up with the following assessment: “This is an ANGRY fight!”

Richard Clune and Pierre-Cedric Labrie were tossed into the penalty box before they could throw hands. Brandon Leipsig scored from the right dot on the resulting 4-on-4 session to draw the Ads even. The officials couldn’t prevent Stephen Johns and Noonan from dropping their gloves shortly thereafter.

The 5258 fans at the BMO were treated to Johns dropping some Norte Dame B’s on Noonan, who was responding to a big hit Johns laid on Frederick Gaudreau. Despite Noonan jumping into a whipping, no instigator penalty was called and the Ads had a power play based on an interference call on Johns. Ryan Hartman was upended by Mikka Salomaki a minute later to bail the officials out.

The game-winner came on the resulting IceHogs power play once the Johns penalty expired. Regin kicked to the stick in the neutral zone and got the entry pass to Brandon Mashinter at the blue line along the left half boards. Mashinter brought the puck into the Milwaukee zone and slid it across the ice to T.J. Brennan at the top of the right circle. Brennen did exactly what Brennan does in these situations, sniping an offering that did the limbo under the crossbar to Manzanac’s glove side. Puck, meet net…net, meet puck. The two hit it off and Rockford led 3-2.

From there, it was Darling and the Hogs protecting the lead in the final 20 minutes. Darling turned away 38 of the 40 shots he faced to earn first star honors. Cumiskey and Rasmussen were second and third stars, respectively.

Lines (Starters in italics)
Note: Dent went with seven defensemen so the pairings varied throughout the evening.
Garret Ross-Cody Bass-Ryan Hartman
Brandon Mashinter (A)-Teuvo Teravainen-Peter Regin
Matt Carey-Dennis Rasmussen-Pierre-Cedric Labrie (A)
Ryan Schell-Alex Broadhurst (Regin centered this line at times)

T.J. Brennan-Ville Pokka
Klas Dahlbeck (A)-Kyle Cumiskey
Stephen Johns-Viktor Svedberg
Zach Miskovic

Scott Darling

Scratches-Drew LeBlanc, Mark McNeill, Michael Leighton

Power Play
Mashinter-Teravainen-Regin-Brennan-Pokka
Ross-Rasmussen-Carey-Hartman-Cumiskey

Penalty Kill
Rasmussen-Hartman-Dahlbeck-Cumiskey
Labrie-Rasmussen-Johns-Svedberg
Ross-Bass-Johns-Svedberg

 

Sunday, November 23-Rockford 3, Chicago 0

For their third game in as many days, the IceHogs traveled to the Allstate Arena to face a Chicago Wolves squad that was right behind them in the Midwest Division standings. Both teams showed the effects of a long weekend but it was Rockford that was able to grind out its fourth straight win.

The Hogs started on their heels, spending most of the first ten minutes killing penalties. By the end of the first, Rockford had begun to tilt the rink away from its own net. In fact, it was after a successful kill midway through the second period that the IceHogs drew first blood in the contest.

Viktor Svedberg recovered a loose puck created by a whiff on the part of Chicago’s Philip McRae at the Rockford goal line. Svedberg flipped the biscuit up and over the neutral zone, where Brandon Mashinter caught up with it behind the defense. Mashinter bore down on Matt Climie before dropping a pass back to Garret Ross. Ross finished the play by hoisting the kitten over Climie’s mitten at the 8:25 mark.

Rockford doubled the lead midway through the final period right after time expired on a power play. Klas Dahlbeck collected a pass from Kyle Cumiskey at the top of the left circle. The resulting shot was stopped by Climie. However, Ross was camped in front of the blue paint. He easily tucked the rebound into the back of the net to make it 2-0 Hogs with 9:25 gone in the third.

The Wolves pulled Climie in the 18th minute to attempt to get back into the game but the Hogs held firm in front of Carruth. Mashinter got a stick on the puck as it left the defensive zone. He chipped the puck over several Wolves players and outhustled them to it coming across the Chicago blue line. Mashinter set the puck up with a twine blanky in a comfy empty net and Rockford completed a weekend sweep with a 3-0 victory.

Mashinter was the game’s third star. Carruth, who was making his first start of the year for the IceHogs, recorded a shutout with 23 saves and was second star. Ross drew first star honors.

Lines (Starters in italics)
Brandon Mashinter (A)-Teuvo Teravainen-Ryan Hartman
Garret Ross-Peter Regin (A)-Cody Bass (A)
Ryan Schnell-Dennis Rasmussen-Pierre-Cedric Labrie
Alex Broadhurst-Drew LeBlanc-Zach Miskovic

Klas Dahlbeck-Kyle Cumiskey
T.J. Brennan-Ville Pokka
Stephen Johns-Viktor Svedberg

Mac Carruth

Scratches-Matt Carey, Mark McNeill, Michael Leighton

Power Play
Mashinter-Teravainen-Regin-Brennan-Pokka
Ross-Rasmussen-Hartman-Dalhbeck-Cumiskey

Penalty Kill
Bass-Hartman-Dahlbeck-Cumiskey
Labrie-Ross-Dahlbeck-Johns
Regin-Schnell-Svedberg-Johns

 

Looking Forward

The Hogs are back to the grind on Wednesday when they again host the Iowa Wild. Friday and Saturday sees Rockford in what should be a tough home-and-home with the Wolves.

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