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High On The Hog: Hartman Hot In Texas

The Rockford IceHogs opened this past week with a tough stretch of games in Texas ahead of them. With three of those four contests in the books, a four-game Lone Star sweep is within the reach of the IceHogs.

In what may be its most impressive stretch of the season, Rockford posted 15 goals in three victories. After winning a track meet against the Texas Stars Wednesday, the Hogs scored two wins over the San Antonio Rampage over the weekend. Rockford improved its season mark to 15-5-1-2 and sit at the top of the Central Division.

With several of last year’s leading scorers on the shelf, Rockford looked to be in need of some offensive punch against some good offensive teams.

Who provided a good portion of that punch? The above picture should spill the beans.

Ryan Hartman, Ryan Hartman

A big part of the Hogs Texas run has been spearheaded by the second-year forward. Hartman had a heck of a week for Rockford.

Potting goals in every game this week, Hartman had the game-winners in both tilts with the Rampage. He also contributed a pair of goals in a 6-5 overtime win over the Stars. The oft-penalized Hartman spent just two minutes in the sin bin this week and was arguably the best skater on the ice in each of the three contests.

Hartman was making plays at both ends of the ice. I would point to a shift on the penalty kill midway through the third period of Sunday’s 4-2 win over San Antonio as one of many that stand out.

Entering the Rampage zone and taking a pass from Jake Dowell, Hartman could have tried to take the puck through traffic and head to the net. Instead, he had the presence of mind to skate into the corner with the puck before sending a long pass back to Viktor Svedberg at the other end. The play denied San Antonio of possession and helped negate the Rampage’s man advantage.

In addition to the four goals, Hartman added an assist Wednesday night and was a plus-six for the week. He now leads all IceHogs skaters with 10 goals and 16 points. It wouldn’t surprise me if the AHL recognized the effort with some hardware. Regardless, Hartman was a difference-maker in three big road wins.


Morin Suspended

Two-thirds of a very effective line for the IceHogs was not on the ice Sunday afternoon. Bryan Bickell had been recalled and was skating a team-low 7:03 in Chicago. Jeremy Morin was in street clothes following supplemental discipline from the league.

Morin was handed a one-game suspension for actions that occurred late in Friday nights win in San Antonio. In a game that got pretty physical in the final frame, a retaliatory move by the winger led to his being held out of Sunday’s game.

At 6:40 of the third period Friday, Reid Petryk took a big run at Morin against the end boards of the Rockford zone. Petryk would have knocked Morin into next week had he scored a direct hit; even the glancing blow to Morin’s shoulder knocked him down. After skating toward the bench, Morin elected to stay out on the ice.

Not long after, Morin barreled into Marc-Andre Cliche just after the Rampage center had played a puck at the half boards. The hit sent Cliche to the ice, after which Morin added a shove. The officials called Morin for charging and sent him to the penalty box for two minutes.

Morin loudly protested the call on the ice. We know this because the Rampage radio broadcast picked up his difference of opinion with the officials. (“I was (expletive deleted) flat-footed, you (expletive deleted) idiot!” I can’t be 100 percent sure of his exact verbiage, though the F-Bombs rang loud and clear.)

Obviously he still had a bit of the red-ass; though Morin’s hit on Cliche was more devastating, Petryk’s attempt had equally bad intentions. Morin would have taken a direct hit from behind had Petryk scored a bulls-eye. It was of little surprise that Morin would seek some measure of retribution; ultimately it earned him a night in the press box.


Roster Moves

Bickell, who likely was on his way to Chicago Saturday, was officially recalled to the Blackhawks Sunday morning.

Swapping spots on Monday were centers Tanner Kero and Dennis Rasmussen. Kero returns to Rockford, where his six goals will be behind only Hartman on the current Hogs roster.

Rasmussen was on a six-game point streak prior to his recall to Chicago. He had 14 points (7 G, 7 A) in 22 games with the IceHogs. The big center should be able to contribute defensively both on the PK and at even strength.


Texas Trifecta-The Recaps

Wednesday, December 2-Rockford 6, Texas 5 (OT)

The IceHogs got on the teeter-totter with Texas, prevailing in an exciting contest. The lead changed hands five times before Dennis Rasmussen’s Gus Macker goal claimed victory for Rockford.

The Hogs drew first blood with Ryan Hartman’s seventh goal of the season, though Texas built a 2-1 lead in the middle of the opening period on tallies by Travis Morin and Radik Faska.

Bryan Bickell pulled Rockford even with a power play goal 3:49 into the second stanza. The IceHogs went up 3-2 less than a minute later. The goal was set up by Jake Dowell forcing a turnover in neutral ice. Garret Ross, seeing his first action in a week, drove into the Stars zone and sent the biscuit past the glove of Texas goalie Jack Campbell.

The Stars responded with a Greg Rallo power play goal two minutes later to tie the game once again. Texas then took a 4-3 advantage after Rockford misfired on a scoring chance.

Some nifty passing by Daniel Paille and returning center Phillip Danault set linemate Daniel Ciampini up at the right post with some open real estate in the Texas net. However, the puck skidded over Ciampini’s stick and off the endboards, where the home team took possession and swept to the opposite end. Julius Honka banged a shot from the top of the right circle that made contact with a Rockford skater and snuck under the crossbar at 16:06 of the second period.

The Hogs were down a goal until just over a minute remained in the period. Hartman took advantage of Campbell’s mishandle behind his net and got a hold of the disk. Hartman called bank, using the Stars goalie to ricochet the puck into the cage and making the score 4-4 going into the second intermission.

The scoring pace slowed in the final 20 minutes, though both teams continued to fly up and down the rink. Rockford gained a 5-4 lead at the 13:58 mark after Dowell won an offensive zone draw. Erik Gustafsson took a pass from Hartman at the left point and sent a slap shot past Campbell to light the lamp.

Not surprisingly on this evening, Texas had a response. Michael Leighton stopped an attempt by Justin Dowling but the rebound sat a few feet in front of the crease for a bit too long. Curtis McKenzie jumped on the chance and flipped the puck into the net to tie the game at five.

Both teams had power play opportunities in overtime; the Hogs started a man down due to a Hartman tripping penalty late in the third period but Rockford did not allow a shot on goal. Faska’s hooking infraction 1:36 into Gus Macker Time was the catalyst for Rasmussen’s game-winner. Gustafsson set up the Swede in the slot and Rasmussen united rubber and twine to end a highly entertaining game.

Rasmussen’s goal set him up with first star honors. However, second star Hartman had a huge night with two goals and an assist. He was a plus-four for the game and led Rockford with five shots.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Bryan Bickell-Dennis Rasmussen-Jeremy Morin

Garret Ross-Jake Dowell (A)-Ryan Hartman

Pierre-Cedric Labrie (A)-Vinnie Hinostroza-Chris DeSousa

Daniel Paille-Phillip Danault-Daniel Ciampni

Cameron Schilling-Ville Pokka

Viktor Svedberg-Erik Gustafsson

Nolan Valleau-Kirill Gotovets

Michael Leighton

Scratches-Kyle Cumiskey, Dane Walters, Mike Liambas, Dennis Robertson, Kyle Baun, Mark McNeill, Ryan Haggerty.

Power Play (2-4)



(On the 4-on-3 game-winner, it was Rasmussen-Bickell-Morin-Gustafsson)

Penalty Kill (Stars were 1-3 on the night)





Friday, December 4-Rockford 4, San Antonio 2

What looked to be a tough night for the Hogs early turned around with a trifecta of second period goals. Rockford won their second straight game while besting the Rampage.

San Antonio surged to a 2-0 advantage via the power play.  Garret Ross was called for hooking in the fifth minute, leading to a score by Andrew Agozzino. Early in the second, Ross hooked Colin Smith and then socked him for good measure.

A double minor was called: the Rampage converted before Ross’s second minor could expire. Joey Hishon gave San Antonio a two-goal lead exactly four minutes into the second stanza.

Soon after, the Hogs got down to business. Bryan Bickell swiped a puck in the left corner of the Rampage zone and found Jake Dowell in the slot. Dowell five-holed San Antonio goalie Calvin Pickard to cut the deficit to 2-1 at the 5:36 mark.

The power play tied the game at the midway point of the second. Pickard got in front of Ville Pokka’s shot from the point. However, the puck tumbled past Pickard and into the goal 10:48 into the period.

Ryan Hartman gave the Hogs their first lead of the night at 15:42 of the second. A Ross offering on net resulted in a long rebound which Hartman sent to the cord. The goal capped off a dominating 2o minutes, during which Rockford out shot the Rampage 15-3.

After taking control of the game in the second period, the IceHogs got a stranglehold four minutes into the final frame. Jeremy Morin won control of a puck along the half boards of the neutral zone. He slid the biscuit to Bickell, who skated into Rampage country, fired past Pickard and closed out the scoring for the evening.

Bickell’s three-point night earned him first star honors. Dowell and Hartman rounded out the three stars. Mark Visentin saw just 22 shots but had a solid night in picking up his second win of the season.

TANGENT ALERT! I am not a believer in writing open letters to organizations; if I really want to convey a message I will just send them a direct note. I will state to you, however, that the in-house video for Friday’s game resembled a grandfather videotaping an afternoon pee-wee game from the top row of the arena. Boy, was it dark.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Bryan Bickell-Dennis Rasmussen-Jeremy Morin

Pierre-Cedric Labrie (A)-Phillip Danault-Vinnie Hinostroza

Daniel-Paille-Dane Walters-Chris DeSousa

Garret Ross-Jake Dowell (A)-Ryan Hartman

Cameron Schilling-Ville Pokka

Viktor Svedberg-Erik Gustafsson

Kirill Gotovets-Dennis Robertson

Mark Visentin

Scratches-Nolan Valleau, Kyle Cumiskey, Mike Liambas, Kyle Baun, Mark McNeill, Daniel Ciampini, Ryan Haggerty.

Power Play (1-4)



Penalty Kill (San Antonio was 2-5)





Sunday, December 6-Rockford 5, San Antonio 2

The IceHogs again used a big second period to pull away from San Antonio. This time, a pair of goals in the middle 20 paved the way for Rockford’s third-straight win.

The Hogs were a little shorthanded up front with the recall of Bryan Bickell and the suspension of Jeremy Morin. Coach Ted Dent iced seven defensemen to go with his 11 available forwards; the team didn’t miss a beat.

It was Rockford’s turn to score first. That goal came 4:23 into the game after Pierre-Cedric Labrie had his shot attempt knocked into the left corner by Nathan Pickard. Nolan Valleau collected the loose puck and headed behind Pickard’s net.  He entered to Phillip Danault in the slot and Danault one-timed it into the promised land. It was his first goal since Danault returned to action on Wednesday and the Hogs now led 1-0.

The Rampage used their first power play chance to tie the game thanks to a Mikko Rantenen goal. Shortly thereafter, Rockford got its first man advantage of the night and quickly capitalized.

Ville Pokka took a pass from Garret Ross at the right point and maneuvered to the high slot while looking for an opening.  Finding what he was looking for, Pokka slammed home the rubber biscuit at the 13:47 mark.

San Antonio would catch the Hogs in a line change late in the first period, with Colin Smith taking a stretch pass from Maxim Noreau behind the defense. Smith netted his attempt to make it 2-2 with 1:14 left in the period and it stayed that way at the buzzer.

Ryan Hartman made his tenth goal of the season an opportunistic one as well as the eventual game-winner. Noreau had gained control of the puck from Hartman, but his attempt to ring the puck along the boards hit s snag. The attempt took an odd hop off the end boards and wound up on Hartman’s backhand. He quickly sent the puck to San Antonio Savings and Twine, putting Rockford up 3-2 at 4:29 of the second.

The IceHogs never looked back. A boarding penalty by Patrick Bordeleau was the catalyst for another power play conversion. Viktor Svedberg sent a shot toward Pickard from the left point on which Labrie got his stick.

The redirect was on the money, though the goal was initially waved off because of what was announced as a high stick. The officials conferred briefly before changing the call and awarding Labrie his fifth goal of the campaign. The score was 4-2 IceHogs at 6:34 of the second stanza.

From there, it was Michael Leighton and the defense that keep the lock on the Hogs net. The Rampage tried yanking Pickard with 3:30 to play in the game to try and get back in the contest. However, Jake Dowell gathered in a defensive draw by Danault and hit Daniel Paille coming out of the Rockford zone. The veteran skated the puck all the way down the ice and recorded his first goal with the Hogs on an empty-netter.

Leighton was excellent in net again, stopping 33 of 35 shots. Labrie and Rasmussen were the first and second stars of the game.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Daniel Paille-Jake Dowell (A)-Chris DeSousa

Garret Ross-Dennis Rasmussen-Ryan Hartman

Pierre-Cedric Labrie (A)-Phillip Danault-Vinnie Hinostroza

Dane Walters-Daniel Ciampini

Cameron Shilling-Ville Pokka

Viktor Svedberg-Erik Gustafsson

Dennis Robertson-Kirill Gotovets

Nolan Valleau

Michael Leighton

Scratches-Kyle Cumiskey, Mike Liambas, Jeremy Morin (suspended), Kyle Baun, Mark McNeill, Ryan Haggerty.

Power Play (2-3)



Penalty Kill (The Rampage was 1-4 on the afternoon.)





This Week

Rockford finishes up the Lone Star jaunt with a game Tuesday against Texas. The IceHogs then return to the BMO Harris Bank Center for two Central Division clashes. Iowa is in the Forrest City Friday night, with Grand Rapids visiting on Saturday.

Follow me on twitter @JonFromi to be deluged with game updates and occasional news and pondering.