With the end of the season creeping closer and closer, the IceHogs found themselves in a 3-games-in-3-nights situation in week 22 of the AHL schedule. In order to stay close in the playoff race, the Hogs needed to take at least 4 of the 6 possible points–and they did just that.
On Friday, March 8th, the Hogs took on the Oklahoma City Barons in the Sooner state. They came out on top 4-3, but barely. Terry Broadhurst and Ben Smith scored for Rockford in the second period, and Adam Clendening scored with 2 seconds remaining in regulation to send the game into overtime, and then into a shootout. Brad Mills scored the game winner for the Hogs in the fifth round of the skills competition. Carter Hutton was in net for the Hogs.
The following night, the Hogs took on the Barons again. After falling behind 3-0 in the first period, the Hogs scored 7 goals in the last 40 minutes to win 7-4. After Jimmy Hayes tallied at the beginning of period number 2 to cut the OKC lead to 2 goals, Mark Arcobello restored the Barons’ lead. Then, the Hogs went on a tear and scored 6 unanswered goals. They received two more from Hayes for his first professional hat trick, two from winger Jeremy Morin, the game tying goal from Brandon Pirri and the game winning goal from Brandon Svendsen. Henrik Karlsson was in net for Rockford.
On Sunday morning, the Hogs flew into Chicago from OKC for a 4 o’clock game at the Allstate Arena against the Chicago Wolves. The Hogs dropped this contest 3-2, despite having a last minute power play in the third period. Jeremy Morin tallied a shorthanded goal for Rockford in the first period and defenseman Ryan Stanton scored his first goal of the season with a shot from the left point in the second period. Carter Hutton was in net for the Hogs in this tilt.
-It might be overkill to say that Jimmy Hayes could do no wrong on Saturday night, but he really couldn’t. He racked up 5 points (3 G, 2 A) against the Barons and played a solid, all-around game. He was using his speed and size effectively and used his hockey sense to get to the good scoring areas on the ice. His last goal was an empty netter, but hey, a hat trick’s a hat trick, right? Hayes’ first goal was also his 20th of the season, which made him the first IceHog to hit that mark this season.
–Jeremy Morin. What else do I really need to say? He just continues to play well in all areas of the ice and he’s being rewarded with all these points he’s racking up. He even sat out on Friday night with an injury, but apparently it wasn’t serious at all since he played on Saturday and Sunday.
–Henrik Karlsson looked shaky on Saturday night in net, especially at the beginning of the game. On OKC’s first goal, he brutally coughed the puck up behind his net 1:04 into the game and OKC’s Philippe Cornet didn’t miss the wide open cage. It’s a good thing the offense heated up and the defense got their act together in that game, or it may have been a long night for the Hogs.
-I would be remiss if I don’t mention Brandon Svendsen again. I feel like his great defensive play gets more and more noticeable every game. He’s fearlessly getting into shooting lanes and blocking shots like it’s no one’s business–be it on the PK or not.
–Adam Clendening has improved his defensive zone play greatly over the course of this season. He’s more confident in his own zone now than at the beginning of the year, even at the halfway point of the season. He also seems to have gained more confidence in the offensive zone in regards to making smart passes to keep a play alive.
–Brad Mills continues to prove to be a solid pick-up by the IceHogs. He’s a very reliable centerman and can normally be seen taking important draws in all 3 zones, especially the defensive zone. He’s been great on the penalty kill and has even chipped in offensively as he has scored two game winning shootout goals for Rockford so far since he joined the team in February.
-To recap all of Tuesday’s IceHogs transactions: The Blackhawks recalled forward Jimmy Hayes; the Blackhawks reassigned defenseman Steve Montador to Rockford after he cleared waivers; the Blackhawks reassigned forward Byron Froese from Toledo to Rockford; and the IceHogs sent defenseman Ben Youds down to Toledo. *takes breath of air after all of that*
-Tuesday, March 12th, was IceHogs forward Byron Froese‘s 22nd birthday.
-The IceHogs’ record is 30-27-1-1 (62 points). They’re tied for 3rd in the Midwest Division and 11th in the Western Conference with the Milwaukee Admirals, but the Ads hold both spots because they have a game in-hand. The Hogs sit 3 points out of 8th place, which is held by the Abbotsford Heat. **Before Wednesday’s games had gone final.
What’s Next For Rockford?
Friday, March 15 vs. Chicago at 7:05 pm.
Saturday, March 16 vs. Peoria at 7:05 p.m.
Sunday, March 17 at Chicago at 3:00 p.m.