The Rockford IceHogs took some lumps in Iowa this past weekend. The Blackhawks AHL franchise continued what is going to be a six-game road trip in DesMoines, losing back-to-back games to the Wild.
Rockford led Friday’s affair twice before being snowed under by a four-goal middle frame by Iowa. The Wild outshot the Hogs 53-19 while pulling away to win 6-3. In the rematch, Rockford fell behind by three goals and dropped a 5-2 decision to Iowa.
As a result of the two losses, the piglets fall to the bottom of the Central Division standings, with the Wild soaring to the top. The IceHogs are 1-3 on the young season. They have two games this week with the team just above them in the Central, the Texas Stars. Rockford will play in Cedar Park Thursday and Saturday this week.
On Saturday, after he posted a goal and an assist against Iowa the night before, the Blackhawks recalled forward Reese Johnson. Johnson looked good in his first three games with Rockford. His time up with the Blackhawks showed on the ice; Johnson has been a leader despite not being much older than the rookies.
Johnson also showed the desire to plant himself in front of opposing goalies and hold his ground against defenders. His goal Friday was a tip-in from the front of the net.
On Sunday, defenseman Ian Mitchell was recalled by Chicago in time to take part in that night’s game with the Red Wings. Mitchell was scoreless with a minus-four rating in two games with the Hogs.
- Rockford coach Derek King has tried several combinations early in the season. However, he has been fairly consistent with having Lucas Reichel center Alexander Nylander and Brett Connolly. The Hogs have a potentially standout line for the time being. Reichel currently leads the team with four points (2 G, 2 A) and had points in both games this weekend.
- Nylander has looked very good in his return from a knee injury, pacing the IceHogs with three goals. He has also looked good at both ends of the ice.
- Jakub Pour has shown some scoring touch. The 22-year old Hawks prospect picked up a goal and an assist Friday night, then lit the lamp again in Saturday’s loss.
- Evan Barratt was in the lineup for both games this weekend. However, he was not on the bench for the third period of Saturday night’s contest.
- Chad Krys did not make the trip to Iowa. He may be missing some extended time after suffering a knee injury on October 16 in Chicago. Fellow defenseman Alec Regula is still working out some back issues that have kept him out of action for several weeks.
- Several of Rockford’s AHL contracts saw their first action in DesMoines this weekend. Forward Dylan McLaughlin was in for both games, picking up an assist Saturday. Defenseman Cliff Watson played both nights, assisting on Reese Johnson’s goal Friday. Forward D.J. Busdeker also drew into the lineup Saturday, making his season debut.
- In lieu of Johnson, who was one of Rockford’s alternate captains until his recall, Connolly donned the “A” on Saturday.
- No IceHogs defenseman has tickled twine in the first two weeks of action. Issak Phillips leads the defense with two assists. Phillips is seeing a lot of time in the top two pairings so far this season with several blueliners on the shelf in Rockford and Chicago. His plus-two skater rating though four games leads the club.
- Ian Mitchell, recently assigned to Rockford, skated both games this weekend. He was considerably less noticeable than Phillips.
- Andrei Altybarmakian was able to showcase his game with a thinner prospect pool last season. He’s been relegated to bottom-six duty in most of his three games this month. He did some nice work on the end boards with McLaughlin to set up Pour’s goal Saturday night.
- The Hogs power play went 1-10 over the weekend. Rockford’s man advantage units are hitting at a paltry 6.7 success rate. They’ve allowed more shorthanded goals (two) than they have scored (one).
- The penalty kill isn’t faring much better. Iowa was 2-4 on Saturday after the IceHogs stopped all four Wild chances the evening before. Overall, Rockford’s kill rate is near the bottom of the AHL as 68.4 percent.
Recaps From DesMoines
Friday, October 22-Iowa 6, Rockford 3
The Hogs were out shot 53-19 on the evening. Despite leading on two occasions, Rockford dropped the first meeting with the Wild this season at Wells Fargo Arena.
Rockford took a 1-0 lead late in the first period, courtesy of a nice give and go play by the piglets. Issak Phillips got the clearing pass out of his zone and to the stick of Jakub Pour. Pour sent a cross-ice pass to Reese Johnson in the neutral zone, then skated to the right circle to take Johnson’s drop pass. The shot beat Wild goalie Andrew Hammond low to the blocker side at 17:51 of the opening period.
Iowa tied the game 32 ticks into the middle frame on a Connor Dewar goal. Rockford re-established the lead at the 5:53 mark when Johnson sent a feed from Cliff Watson over Hammond’s glove. Two goals from Iowa’s Nick Swaney put the Wild up 3-2 midway through the second.
The IceHogs tied the game on a power play 11:30 into the period. Lucas Reichel was attempting to send a pass through the crease when the puck struck the skate of Wild defenseman Jon Lizotte. Hammond could only watch as the carom entered the goal, and the game was even at three goals.
Damien Giroux flipped a backhander past Hogs goalie Arvid Soderblom 14:51 into the second to give Iowa a 4-3 at the second intermission.
Things got out of hand in the final twenty, with the Wild going up 5-3 on a Mitchell Chaffee tally 3:45 into the third. Iowa made it 6-3 on Giroux’s second of the night.
Lines (Starters in italics)
Alex Nylander-Lucas Reichel-Brett Connolly
Dylan McLaughlin-Josiah Slavin-Michal Teply
Jakub Pour-Reese Johnson (A)-Evan Barratt
Andrei Altybarmakian-Garrett Mitchell (C)-Dmitri Osipov
Ryan Stanton (A)-Ian Mitchell
Cliff Watson-Issak Phillips
Jakub Galvas-Michael Krutil
Saturday, October 23-Iowa 5, Rockford 2
After two goals the previous evening, Nick Swaney victimized the IceHogs for two more Saturday night, leading the Wild to their second-straight win over Rockford.
Swaney put Iowa up 1-0 early with a power play tally. With Lucas Reichel in the box for slashing, Swaney skated into the slot with the puck, beating Hogs goalie Collin Delia high to the stick side at 1:11 of the opening period.
The IceHogs were 0-6 on the man advantage for the game and whiffed on three power play chances in the first period. Iowa took advantage of a Reichel turnover in neutral ice to go up 2-0 at the 11:51 mark. Cody McLeod chased down the loose puck after the Hogs rookie lost the handle, leading Swaney on an odd-man rush toward Delia. Swaney converted on the tap in to put Rockford in a hole.
Another quick strike to lead off the second period saw the Wild take a 3-0 advantage. Delia left a long rebound on a Will Bitten shot; Mason Shaw collected it in the slot and fired to the twine 1:28 into the second.
The IceHogs got on the board with an Alex Nylander goal coming off of a faceoff win by Reichel. Nylander got the the puck near the top of the left circle and sent a shot past Iowa goalie Dereck Baribeau at the 4:30 mark.
Iowa restored the three-goal lead on the power play. Swaney set up Kyle Rau in front of Delia with Andrei Altybarmakian serving a penalty for high sticking. The goal came off of Rau’s leg and past Delia at 7:53 of the middle frame for a 4-1 Wild lead.
The Hogs would cut the lead to 4-2 on a Jakub Pour goal, set up by Altybarmakian and Dylan McLaughlin 10:51 into the second. The Wild responded with a goal by Adam Backman, who beat Delia from the left dot at the 17:08 mark. Rockford entered the locker room down 5-2; neither team scored in the final twenty minutes.
Delia took the loss for the Hogs, giving up five goals on 31 Iowa shots.
Lines (Starters in italics)
Alex Nylander-Lucas Reichel-Brett Connolly (A)
Cameron Morrison-Josiah Slavin-D.J. Busdeker
Jakub Pour-Dylan McLaughlin-Andrei Altybarmakian
Evan Barratt-Garrett Mitchell (C)-Dmitri Osipov
Issak Phillips-Ian Mitchell
Ryan Stanton (A)-Nicolas Beaudin
Cliff Watson-Jakub Galvas
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