The Rockford IceHogs continued their winning ways this past week, coming out on top in two of their three games. The piglets followed up a big win over Milwaukee at the BMO with a weekend split in the first two games of a Canadian road jaunt.
I have a lot of thoughts to share on how the season is going for the Hawks prospects, including the crowded Hogs net and some youngsters who are going to have to step things up in the coming weeks. Those thoughts will remain in my head until Friday, or on twitter @JonFromi throughout this week.
For now, let’s get caught up on the latest from the farm:
- The Hogs are 15-10-0-1, having won seven of their last ten. Rockford is in second place behind Milwaukee in the Central Division with 31 points.
- Anton Wedin is back in Rockford, having been reassigned by Chicago. Dylan McLaughlin, Dmitri Osipov, Matthew Thompson and Mikael Hakkarainen were recalled from Indy.
- Dylan Sikura and Matthew Highmore, along with Adam Boqvist, were recalled by the Blackhawks.
- F Alex Krushelnyski was released from his PTO and is back with the Fuel. The Hogs signed D Ben Youds, who spend two seasons in Rockford from 2011-2013, to a PTO.
Tuesday, December 10-Rockford 2, Milwaukee 1 (OT)
The Admirals out shot Rockford 56-14 in this game. The out shot the Hogs 25-2 in the third period. It took a record-setting effort by Kevin Lankinen, but he and the piglets avenged Saturday’s loss at the BMO with a win over the Central Division leaders.
Rockford could muster just two shots on goal in the first period. However, Lankinen fended off 19 Milwaukee shots to keep things scoreless through the first intermission. The Hogs converted nine seconds into their first power play chance of the night in the middle frame. Brandon Hagel hauled in a rebound of a Phillipp Kurashev shot and threw a backhand past Ads goalie Connor Ingram. Rockford led 1-0 at the 6:41 mark.
Milwaukee got one puck by Lankinen on this night, but it took a wild scrum in front of the Rockford net and a video review by the officials for the Admirals to officially tie the score 12:46 into the third. Lankinen made save after save to keep the Hogs even through regulation.
The Gus Macker Hero turned out to be Anton Wedin, who took the puck from Ben Youds, skated to the left dot and fired past Ingram for the game-winner 1:02 into extra hockey.
Lankinen’s 55-save evening set a new IceHogs record. Rockford gave up six power plays to the Admirals, but Milwaukee was turned away each time.
Friday, December 13-Belleville 5, Rockford 2
The IceHogs battled but couldn’t complete a third-period comeback, dropping the team’s first-ever meeting with the Senators to kick off a three-game road trip.
Belleville took advantage of sloppy play by the Rockford power play unit, scoring shorthanded via Jean-Christophe Beaudin’s breakaway goal 13:54 into the opening period. Just 28 seconds into the second, Eric Brannstrom sent a shot off of the pads of Hogs goalie Matt Tomkins. The rebound came right out to Jordan Szwarz at the bottom of the right circle. Szwarz knocked the puck past Tomkins for a 2-0 Belleville advantage.
Rockford got on the board at the 15:40 mark, just after the Hogs came up empty on their fourth power play chance of the night. Ben Youds hauled in a cleared puck in the Rockford zone and sent a long pass to Reese Johnson. Johnson took the puck off the half boards and slid it to Nicolas Beaudin. The rookie defenseman did the rest, skating to the slot and firing past Belleville goalie Filip Gustavsson. Beaudin’s first pro goal cut the IceHogs deficit to 2-1, which was the score at the second intermission.
The Hogs knotted the game at two goals early in the third period. Joseph Cramarossa forced a turnover in the Senators end of the ice. Tyler Sikura pounced on the loose puck at the bottom of the left circle and hit John Quenneville skating into the slot. Quenneville’s one-timer got over Gustavsson’s glove at the 28 second mark to square the match.
Belleville regained the lead when the Hogs got caught in a line change a few minutes later. Tomkins had just made an incredible stop to keep things even in the fifth minute. Brannstrom got possession of a clearing attempt puck in the neutral zone and quickly sent it the other way. Josh Norris wound up with lots of room to maneuver in front of Tomkins; his goal at 4:35 made it 3-2 Senators.
Senators forwards found their way past the IceHogs defense several times as the time wound down in regulation. The back-breaker came with 2:11 left, when Szwarz got to the front of the net to redirect a Jack Dougherty shot. Tomkins made a pad save on the redirect, but Szwarz tapped in the rebound to make it 4-2. An empty netter in the final seconds closed out the scoring.
Sunday, December 15-Rockford 4, Toronto 2
The Hogs took a 1-0 lead 5:41 into the game on a play that got started when John Quenneville freed up a puck in the corner of the defensive zone. Phillipp Kurashev skated it out along the half boards and pulled up near to the top of the left circle. Kurashev backhanded a pass to Philip Holm at the point; Holm, in turn, sent a backhand to Quenneville at the bottom of the right circle. The one-time blast made its way past Kasimir Kaskisuo and into Net Land.
The net front presence of Rich Clune resulted in the Marlies tying the game when the veteran converted on a rebound of Jordan Schmaltz’s shot. Clue drew Hogs goalie Kevin Lankinen out of position and netted the equalizer at 14:14 of the first.
Kurashev was the beneficiary of a fortunate bounce a few minutes later. A long stretch pass attempt by Nicolas Beaudin glanced off of the skate of MacKenzie Entwistle and on to Kurashev’s blade. Unencumbered by the Toronto defense, the Swiss rookie converted the breakaway rush at the 16:30 mark.
The Marlies tied the game again 1:13 into the second period when Adam Brooks slipped away from the defense. Brooks hung out at the front of the Hogs net; Matt Read connected with the feed and Lankinen was unable to bail out his teammates.
Quenneville would put Rockford up for good 7:56 into the second stanza, capping off a nice bit of passing by the IceHogs. Ben Youds sent the puck to Anton Wedin at the top of the left circle. Wedin threaded a pass to Quenneville, who had collected another loose puck in the corner to spark another scoring play. Quenneville settled the puck and fired past the glove of Kaskisuo for a 3-2 Rockford advantage.
Entwistle was awarded a penalty shot late in the period, but was stopped by Kaskisuo and the Hogs lead remained a single goal through forty minutes. The Marlies could muster just five third period shots, all stopped by Lankinen. Nick Moutrey sealed the deal with an empty net goal with 45 seconds remaining.
The IceHogs complete the road trip Tuesday night in Laval, then return to the BMO Harris Bank Center for tilts with a hot Texas club on Friday, followed by a game with Cleveland on Saturday.