The Rockford IceHogs continue to maneuver through the COVID minefield that is the 2020-21 season. The IceHogs have had to adjust to several postponements throughout the campaign. This weekend may see more of that trend.
Rockford’s game last Saturday in Grand Rapids was postponed due to issues within the Griffins organization. After losing in Iowa Tuesday night, the Hogs are due to host the Chicago Wolves this Saturday before traveling to Hoffman Estates for a game with the Wolves Wednesday.
However, COVID issues affecting the Wolves forced Chicago to postpone Thursday’s game with the Griffins. This may put Saturday’s affair on hold, though the AHL has not yet postponed the contest.
All four of the Central Division teams on Rockford’s schedule have had to postpone games with the IceHogs due to COVID issues during the season. The game Rockford missed last Saturday is supposed to be played on May 3. A February 28 date in Cleveland has not yet been rescheduled.
The IceHogs have played 21 games heading into the weekend. They are 7-13-1 and in the basement of the Central Division standings.
Goalie Matt Tomkins is currently on the Blackhaws taxi squad. Tom Aubrun is on loan to the Indy Fuel. This leaves Rockford with just two goalies on the roster, Cale Morris and Ivan Nalimov.
Wednesday, defensemen Ian Mitchell and Nicolas Beaudin were brought up to the Hawks taxi squad, with forward Brandon Pirri being assigned yet again to Rockford. Despite playing in just three games for the Hogs this season, Pirri is second on the team with five goals.
On Thursday, the IceHogs announced that they had signed UMass forward Carson Gicewicz to an AHL contract through the 2022-23 season. Gicewicz had 17 goals and seven assists for the Minutemen, who recently were crowned NCAA Champs.
I can’t recall Rockford inking a player to a three-year deal in the past. Expect the 24-year old Gicewicz to get into some action, provided the Hogs have an opponent to play in the coming weeks.
Tuesday, April 13-Iowa 4, Rockford 1
The Hogs win streak ends at one game. Iowa put up four unanswered goals to beat Rockford.
With Cody Franson in the box for hooking, Rockford took the lead on a fine individual effort by Josiah Slavin. Winning a board battle in neutral ice, Slavin skated the puck into Wild territory and let fly from the right circle. The shot beat Iowa goalie Dereck Baribeau to the stick side for a 1-0 Hogs lead just 3:26 into the game.
The Wild tied the game with a transition goal that caught the Rockford defense on its heels. Damien Giroux got things started in the neutral zone and cleaned up a rebound of Connor Dewar’s initial attempt. Cale Morris was unable to make a second stop on the rush and the game was even at a goal apiece 9:03 into the first period.
Iowa built a 3-1 lead in the middle frame on goals by Will Bitten and Mason Shaw. The Hogs were unable to generate any offensive pressure in the third period, as Iowa would out-shoot Rockford 13-6 in the final twenty. Gerry Mayhew added an empty-net goal for the Wild in the final minutes to wrap things up.
Lines (Starters in italics)
Andrei Altybarmakian-Dylan McLaughlin-John Quenneville (A)
Josiah Slavin-MacKenzie Entwistle-Michal Teply
Evan Barratt-Garrett Mitchell (C)-Chris Wilkie
Mitchell Fossier-D.J. Busdeker-Tim Soderlund
Nicolas Beaudin-Cody Franson (A)
Issak Phillips-Ian Mitchell
Cole Moberg-Micheal Krutil
If all goes as planned, Rockford hosts the Wolves at the BMO Saturday night. Follow me @JonFromi on twitter for updates on the IceHogs throughout the season.