Lack of offense plagued the Rockford IceHogs a season ago. This year’s crop of prospects fell victim to a similar fate when they lost their 2019-20 season debut Friday night in Iowa 3-2. The IceHogs did lead twice in this game before the Wild scored three times in the final 20 minutes.

One game does not a season make, mind you. There were signs that the piglets could improve upon last year’s paltry offensive numbers. However, we’ll have to wait for this weekend’s  home stand at the BMO Harris Bank Center for signs of life.

Rockford coach Derek King was optimistic about his team’s performance. Despite the result, he praised a strong performance by goalie Kevin Lankinen and a strong compete level by his young squad.

“I think we’ve got lots to learn,” King said to Hogs broadcaster Joseph Zakrzewski following the contest. “We’ve got some work to do.”

It can hardly be considered a surprise to hear that the Hogs were particularly sharp in their curtain-jerker. There was a definite feeling-out period in the first. Neither team seemed to have a lot of rhythm and the action was back and forth. Iowa and Rockford went to the first intermission barren of goals.

The first goal of the season came early in the middle frame on the penalty kill, with Nicolas Beaudin sitting two minutes for slashing. The play got started with Chad Krys digging a puck away from Iowa’s Nico Sturm, then sending a clearing pass out to MacKenzie Entwistle.

The rookie was held coming across the Wild blueline by Louis Belpedio; seconds after the delayed call, Entwistle slid the puck on net. Kappo Kahkonen got his left pad on the shot, but Matthew Highmore was at the right post to knock in the loose rubber at 3:28 of the second period.

The Wild tied the game 24 seconds into the third when Gabriel Dumont backhanded a shot off of Lankinen’s pad. The IceHogs response was swift. Phillip Kurashev dished to Dylan Sikura from the left halfboards. The subsequent laser from the slot beat Kahkonen for a 2-1 Rockford advantage at the 1:20 mark.

Back came Iowa with a Mayhew tally at 2:30 of the third. The goal came right off of a faceoff win in the Hogs zone, with Mayhew collecting the rebound of Delpedio’s blast from the point.

The score remained even until the final minute of action. With Jacob Nilsson in the box for a faceoff infraction, Sturm sent a shot toward the Rockford crease. The puck glanced off the elbow of J.T. Brown and tumbled past Lankinen for the game-winner with 15 seconds left.

Lankinen turned away a lot of Iowa scoring chances in the last 40 minutes. He made several outstanding plays, most notably on a puck that caromed off the shin pad of rookie defenseman Nicolas Beaudin and was inches away from crossing the goal line.

At the other end, Kahkonen was good, though Rockford didn’t keep him as busy as they needed to. The passing was not up to snuff. Real legit scoring opportunities were hard to come by. The power play yielded five shots in four chances. Several potential open looks were negated by off target passing.

“The biggest thing, and we brought it up earlier,” King pointed out, “was just managing the puck, not forcing plays.”


Line Combos

Here’s a look at King’s opening night lines. The starters are in italics.

Matthew Highmore (A)-Tyler Sikura (A)-MacKenzie Entwistle

Kris Versteeg (C)-Jacob Nilsson-Brandon Hagel

Aleksi Saarela-Phillipp Kurashev-Dylan Sikura

Mikeal Hakkarainen-Reese Johnson-Alexandre Fortin

Lucas Carlsson-Joni Tuulola

Philip Holm-Adam Boqvist

Chad Krys-Nicolas Beaudin

Kevin Lankinen

Power Play (0-4)

Versteeg-D. Sikura-Nilsson-Boqvist-Carlsson


Penalty Kill (Iowa was 1-5)

Forwards: T. Sikura-Fortin-Highmore-Entwistle-Nilsson-Hagel

Defense: Holm-Tuulola-Carlsson-Beaudin


Roster Happenings

Rookie Mikael Hakkarainen left Friday’s game in the second period and did not return.

On Saturday, Chicago re-assigned defenseman Dennis Gilbert to the IceHogs, along with forward John Quenneville.


A Musing Or Two For You

One line that was dripping with scoring potential was the Saarela-Kurashev-Sikura combo, who delivered the second Rockford goal. Together, that line generated nine of the Hogs 26 shots in the contest. Both Saarela and Sikura are big-time scorers at the AHL level and should give Kurashev lots of options with distributing the puck.

Saarela, Adam Boqvist and Kris Versteeg paced Rockford with four shots apiece. Despite the last-second deflection, the penalty kill was pretty effective.

Tyler Sikura was sporting a new number after wearing #28 the last two seasons. Sikura the Elder requested #16 when it became available this season. Saarela was clad in the #28 sweater.

Versteeg is sporting the #10 he wore back in his first stint with Rockford in 2007-08. Of course, he now has a “C” on the front of his current sweater.

Former Hogs forward Luke Johnson was not in action against his old team due to an injury suffered last week at practice.


Coming Up

Rockford has a week of practice to prepare for Grand Rapids. The Griffins, who pounded the Chicago Wolves 8-5 Saturday night, come a-calling this Saturday at the BMO. I’ll be back Friday to preview that match up. Follow me on twitter @JonFromi for more thoughts on the Hogs this week.





RECORDS: Cardinals 31-29   Cubs 34-27

GAMETIMES: Friday 1:20, Saturday and Sunday at 6:05

TV: NBCSN Friday, Fox Saturday, ESPN Sunday



Miles Mikolas vs. Cole Hamels

Jack Flaherty vs. Jon Lester

Adam Wainwright vs. Kyle Hendricks


Dexter Fowler – RF

Paul DeJong – SS

Paul Goldschmidt – 1B

Marcell Ozuna – LF

Jedd Gyorko – 3B

Harrison Bader – CF

Matt Wieters – C

Kolten Wong – 2B


Anthony Rizzo – 1B

Kris Bryant – 3B

Carlos Gonzalez – LF

Javier Baez – SS

Jason Heyward – RF

Victor Caratini – C

David Bote – 2B

Albert Almora Jr. – CF


The Cardinals had a sweep to avenge last weekend down in Mos Eisley, and now so do the Cubs. If they were to trade sweeps all season, this would probably turn into some holy war. There is obviously no better or worse feeling, depending on how that particular set goes for you. The last thing we need is to be this bipolar, but we’ll take a Cubs sweep this weekend. Let’s get greedy.

Since the Cubs last saw the Cards five days ago, they split two games with the Reds and had one rained out. Thanks to the scheduled off-day and then bonus one, the Cubs will see the same three pitchers they couldn’t do much with last weekend. So that’s a treat. Perhaps the frequency of appearances will help. Lester and Hendricks didn’t throw against the Cards last time, so that…helps? Basically we’re all gonna shit if the Cubs are held at arm’s length by Adam Goddamn Wainwright again, is what I’m saying. But if his defense keeps pulling rabbits out of their ass like they did last time…hopefully the line drives the Cubs did hit aren’t right at people this time.

The Cards are carrying a couple injuries into this one. Matt Carpenter left the game yesterday early and isn’t playing today, and it’s questionable whether he’ll play this weekend. Yadier Molina continues to be out and there’s no word on when he might be back. Which is actually fine for them, though you’ll never get anyone to say it, because Matt Wieters has been bette at the plate than Yadi. But he doesn’t provide the kind of leadership where you ignore what’s actually going on during a play to argue with an ump or ground out harmlessly to short a lot. I guess we just don’t understand baseball.

For the Cubs, they’ll trot out the goofy lineup today when you know it’s the time where Maddon thinks it’s time to give the team a chuckle. Greatest Leadoff Hitter In History Anthony Rizzo returns as Schwarber is given the day off. Somehow, Maddon is still convinced that Carlos Gonzalez isn’t dead, and he’s hitting third, giving the hands team in the outfield the full game. Maddon also hasn’t noticed that Heyward hasn’t hit in six weeks, so he’ll be in the five-spot. Good times all around here. At least Almora and Bote are playing I guess. Maybe this is just not the thing to worry about right now.

The Cards can get right into the thick of this with a series win, as they’re only 2.5 games behind the Cubs and Brewers. And their schedule is awfully light after this, with 11 games against the Marlins and Mets after this, whereas as the Cubs have to go to the funhouse of Coors Field and then into the tiger pit of Dodger Stadium. Then again, playing the Marlins didn’t do much for the Brewers this week. That’s baseball.

It’s been a good homestand so far. Be a good idea to finish it out strong.

Everything Else

The Rockford IceHogs dropped the first two games of what will be a three-game road trip in Texas. The IceHogs picked up a standings point Friday against the Texas Stars, but lost that game in Gus Macker Time before losing the following night in San Antonio.

In losing 4-3 to the Rampage, San Antonio leapfrogged the Hogs in the Central Division standings. Rockford (16-16-3-5) is now in seventh place in the division.


Roster Activity

Defenseman Neil Manning was brought back from the Indy Fuel of the ECHL on Wednesday. Going to Indy (on paper at least) was defenseman Luc Snuggerud, who returned to the Hogs the following day.

Snuggerud has been inactive since a concussion suffered on November 3. Perhaps this is a sign that he is ready to begin skating in Indy or Rockford soon.

Also being assigned to the Fuel was forward Matheson Iacopelli. Like last season, Iacopelli has found it difficult to secure steady ice time in Rockford. He’s appeared in 25 games with the IceHogs this season with two goals and two assists.

On Sunday, defenseman Brandon Davidson was loaned to Rockford by the Blackhawks after he cleared waivers earlier this week. Jan Rutta, who Chicago had sent to the Hogs a month ago, was traded Friday to Tampa Bay.


Friday, January 11-Texas 4, Rockford 3 (SO)

This back and forth contest was settled in penalty shots, where veteran Stars forward Travis Morin got the only puck into a net to limit the Hogs to a point in the standings.

Texas took a 1-0 lead with a power play goal by Joel L’Esperance, who put a rebound past Rockford goalie Kevin Lankinen at 12:41 of the first period. The IceHogs drew even late in the period while on the man advantage. Lankinen had just stopped a shorthanded attempt by the Stars James Phelan. Rockford came down the ice, scoring with 44 seconds left when Dylan Sikura knocked in a pass from Andreas Martinsen.

Denis Gurianov put Texas up 2-1 midway through the second period. Late in the period, Nathan Noel tied the game with an outstanding individual effort for a shorthanded goal. An Anthony Louis power play goal 4:38 into the third period gave Rockford a 3-2 advantage. Texas, however, tied it up at 15:42 with Gurianov’s second goal of the night.

It was a scoreless overtime before Morin beat Lankinen in the shootout. Viktor Edjsell, Sikura and Louis all came up empty on their attempts.


Saturday, January 12-San Antonio 4, Rockford 3

Jordan Schroeder had a two-goal evening…but so did the Rampage’s Jordan Nolan. The veteran’s three-point night proved to be too much for the Hogs.

Trevor Smith hit a one-timer from the slot that zipped past Rockford goalie Anton Forsberg and into the net 7:43 into the opening period. The IceHogs tied the score early in the second. Luke Johnson dropped a pass to Dylan Sikura above the right circle. His attempt found its way past San Antonio goalie Jared Coreau at the 1:29 mark.

The Rampage built a 3-1 lead in the second period on strikes by Tanner Kaspick and Nolan. The IceHogs closed the gap to 3-2 4:23 into the third after a faceoff win by Johnson. Schroeder gathered in the puck in front of the San Antonio crease and lifted home the goal past Coreau’s blocker.

San Antonio caught the Hogs napping midway through the third. Nolan took a stretch pass from Joey LaLeggia, skated to the high slot and beat Forsberg to the cord for a 4-2 Rampage lead at the 11:05 mark. Schroeder got his second goal with ten seconds to play with Forsberg on the bench, assisted by Darren Raddysh and Viktor Ejdsell. Unfortunately for Rockford, time ran out on the comeback bid.


Coming Up

The IceHogs finish the road trip with a rematch with the Rampage on Tuesday night. Rockford then comes back to the BMO Harris Bank Center for a Friday tilt with Grand Rapids. Saturday night, the Hogs visit Rosemont for a game with the Wolves.

Follow me @JonFromi on twitter for thoughts on the IceHogs all season long.



Everything Else

The Rockford IceHogs earned five of a possible six points in a three-in-three weekend. Trust me, the piglets did earn what they got in this three-game stretch.

With offense in short supply, the Hogs turned to what has become one of the AHL’s most effective goalie tandems. Collin Delia picked up an overtime win in Grand Rapids Friday, then held the Griffins to a single goal in a Hogs victory Sunday. Anton Forsberg made 49 saves to pick up a point against Texas Saturday night, though Rockford would lose that game in Gus Macker Time.

Some time today, one of these goalies will be recalled to Chicago following Corey Crawford’s injury against San Jose last night. Both have played well and merit a shot with the Blackhawks.

Delia, in particular, has put up numbers that beg for that opportunity. The second-year pro sports a 2.34 goals against average and a .933 save percentage. He’s third in the AHL among qualified goalies in the former category and first in the latter. Sunday’s effort was an impressive audition; no way the Hogs prevail 2-1 against Grand Rapids if not for the 24-year old Delia.

The argument can be made that Delia would be better off continuing to develop in Rockford and bring up Forsberg, who spent most of last season in Chicago and has also been excellent in all but one of his nine appearances. Both Forsberg and Delia have earned a call up. The other will form a new tandem with Kevin Lankinen, who should be up from the Indy Fuel in either case.

In other roster moves, Rockford welcomed Hawks defenseman Jan Rutta after he cleared waivers Friday. He played his first game Saturday night at the BMO Harris Bank Center as well as Sunday’s contest.

Josh McArdle, who played in Grand Rapids Friday night, was sent to the Fuel on Saturday. The IceHogs also released Hunter Fejes from his PTO Saturday. Fejes skated in nine games for Rockford.


Carlsson Steps Up

With Carl Dahlstrom currently up with the Blackhawks, rookie defenseman Lucas Carlsson has taken advantage of some increased ice time. Carlsson, a 21-year-old from Galve, Seweden, was used by Hogs coach Derek King on the power play this weekend.

Carlsson had key goals in both home games. He showed solid offensive instincts Saturday in pinching in and maneuvering into scoring position to find the back of the net. Sunday, he factored into both Rockford goals and was named the game’s First Star.

For the season, Carlsson now has 13 points (4 G, 9 A). That puts him in a tie with Viktor Ejdsell for fourth among current IceHogs.



Friday, December 14-Rockford 3, Grand Rapids 2 (OT)

Luke Johnson got the Hogs on the board first 3:03 into the opening period. Johnson took the puck out of the defensive zone and found Jordan Schroeder coming across the Griffins blueline. Schroeder pulled up and sent a centering pass to the slot, where Johnson had skated following his pass. The redirect got past Grand Rapids goalie Patrik Rybar for a 1-0 Rockford lead.

The power play added to the IceHogs advantage after Derek Hulak was called for slashing later in the first. Viktor Ejdsell took a short pass from Darren Raddysh at the top of the Griffins zone, skated to the slot and found Jacob Nilsson waiting at the right dot. Nilsson’s shot caught the far side of the net and put Rockford up 2-0 at the 13:48 mark.

The second period was not as kind to the IceHogs. Chris Terry scored on the power play for Grand Rapids to cut the lead to 2-1 midway through the frame. A late Rockford power play resulted in a shorthanded goal by Turner Elson with six seconds left. At the second intermission, the Hogs and Griffins were even at two goals.

The score remained 2-2 through regulation. In Gus Macker Time, the IceHogs gained a power play opportunity when Joe Hicketts was nabbed for slashing. Johnson, after having a shot turned away by Rybar a few seconds earlier, got the puck back from Raddysh in the slot. Johnson waited for a lane to open up and sent a wrister over the Griffins goalie to win it for the Rockford.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Alexandre Fortin-Jordan Schroeder (A)-Luke Johnson

Viktor Ejdsell-Jacob Nilsson-Anthony Louis

Tyler Sikura (A)-Nathan Noel-Nick Moutrey

Matheson Iacopelli-Terry Broadhurst-Henrik Samuelsson

Darren Raddysh-Joni Tuulola

Josh McArdle-Andrew Campbell (A)

Blake Hillman-Lucas Carlsson

Collin Delia

Power Play (2-4)



Penalty Kill (Grand Rapids was 1-3)





Saturday, December 15-Texas 3, Rockford 2 (OT)

The IceHogs kept the vaunted Stars offense at bay for most of regulation. Anton Forsberg stopped 49 of 52 shots but Texas prevailed in Gus Macker Time.

The Stars got on the board with a power play tally by Eric Condra early in the second period. Rockford was ineffective offensively for the bulk of the evening. In the closing seconds of the middle frame, however, the Hogs managed to tie the score.

With a man advantage due to a Colton Hargrove slash, Anthony Louis got a shot on net that glanced off of Stars goalie Phillipe Desrosiers and briefly settled in front of the crease. Jordan Schroeder was on hand to knock it off the right post, then again into the Texas net with just over three seconds remaining in the period.

The IceHogs gained a 2-1 advantage on a wonderful pinch by Lucas Carlsson 8:04 into period three. Carlsson slipped into the slot to nab a rebound of a Luke Johnson attempt. He stick-handled into an open shooting lane and went high past Desrosiers to cap the scoring play.

The lead was short-lived. Joel L’Esperance dug a puck out of the corner of the Rockford zone and made a strong power move to the front of the net. His shot got by Forsberg, just catching the right post and banking into the Hogs net at 11:11 for the equalizer.

Texas ended the contest 2:52 into the extra session with a goal by Adam Macherin. This put an end to Rockford’s hope to establish a win steak.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Alexandre Fortin-Jordan Schroeder (A)-Luke Johnson

Viktor Ejdsell-Jacob Nilsson-Anthony Louis

Tyler Sikura (A)-Nathan Noel-Nick Moutrey

Matheson Iacopelli-Terry Broadhurst-Henrik Samuelsson

Lucas Carlsson-Jan Rutta

Dennis Gilbert-Andrew Campbell

Blake Hillman-Darren Raddysh

Anton Forsberg

Power Play (1-5)



Penalty Kill (Stars were 1-4)





Sunday, December 16-Rockford 2, Grand Rapids 1

Collin Delia held off the Griffins until Rockford potted a pair of opportunistic goals in the third period. Delia stopped 37 shots, 30 of which came at him in the first 40 minutes.

The Hogs got all the offense they would require in the final frame, starting with a Lucas Carlsson goal a bit past the midway point of the period. Luke Johnson set up Viktor Ejdsell for a one-timer in the slot with Rockford on a power play. The shot was stopped by the pads of Griffins goalie Patrik Rybar; Alexandre Fortin got a stick on the rebound and slid it to Carlsson near the bottom of the right circle. Rubber met twine at 11:31 of the third to give the IceHogs a 1-0 lead.

Another rebound was the catalyst for the second Rockford mark. This time, it was a Carlsson shot that settled at the right post for Jordan Schroeder to knock in at 16:03.

Delia’s shutout bid was foiled by a Chris Terry goal with eight seconds to play. The Hogs still finished the weekend on a winning note, beating the Griffins for the second time in three days.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Viktor Ejdsell-Jacob Nilsson-Anthony Louis

Jordan Schoeder-Luke Johnson-Alexandre Fortin

Nick Moutrey-Graham Knott-Nathan Noel

Terry Broadhurst-Tyler Sikura-Henrik Samuelsson

Dennis Gilbert-Andrew Campbell

Lucas Carlsson-Jan Rutta

Joni Tuulola-Darren Raddysh

Collin Delia

Power Play (1-3)



Penalty Kill (Griffins were 0-4)





This Week

Rockford (13-10-2-4) is still in sixth place in the Central Division standings with a .552 points percentage. The Hogs welcome Milwaukee to the BMO Wednesday night before visiting Chicago on Friday.

Follow me @JonFromi on twitter for thoughts on the IceHogs throughout the season.


Everything Else

Entering Friday’s game in Grand Rapids, the Rockford IceHogs are staring at three consecutive games this weekend. The piglets, who have already been struggling, will be missing their leading scorer, along with their most capable defender.

Dylan Sikura (9 G, 9 A) and Carl Dahlstrom were recalled this week to the Chicago Blackhawks, leaving several players behind that will need to pick up the slack. One of those players could be Alexandre Fortin, who was assigned to Rockford after spending the first couple of months with Chicago.

Provided no other team makes a claim, defenseman Jan Rutta may also be with the IceHogs in time to take part in this weekend’s action. How much impact Fortin and Rutta could have in Rockford remains to be seen. However, there are several players currently on the Hogs roster who would do well to step up. Time to name names…


What Have You Done For Me Lately?

Tyler Sikura (5 G, 5 A)

Over his last ten games, Sikura the Elder has just one goal and one assist. He has been as active around the net as any of the Hogs have been in that time, but it hasn’t shown up on the scoreboard.

Anthony Louis (8 G, 5 A)

Last year’s points leader is scoreless in four December contests heading into Friday. His last goal came on November 23 in a loss to the Wolves.

Jordan Schroeder (4 G, 7 A)

Since returning from an injury that kept him out for a couple of weeks back in November, Schroeder has just one goal in ten contests. His other three goals this season have come off the power play, which has been a little quiet the last month.

Viktor Ejdsell (4 G, 7 A)

Ejdsell has a goal and five helpers in 16 games in November and December. He’s also carrying a minus-three skater rating in that span.

Darren Raddysh (5 G, 10 A)

In his last 11 games, Raddysh has a goal and two asssists.

Terry Broadhurst (2 G, 4 A)

Like Louis, Broadhurst is pointless in December. In his defense, he’s recently returned from injury. However, the Hogs thirst for veteran scoring and Broadhurst is one of the players who can help in this area.

Rockford’s best players are not producing on the scoreboard. That has to change soon. If each of the above players could get on the score sheet this weekend, I like the IceHogs chances for a couple of wins.


Who Could Provide Some Jump To The Lineup?

Well, Fortin brings speed. He had trouble hitting twine last season; perhaps he’ll come down from the NHL and contribute on the offensive end. It appears that William Pelletier could be ready to get his season started soon. He might be able to provide a spark.

You know what? If Graham Knott could convert on his scoring chances, you could see a scoring outburst out of him. He’s put himself in some high-percentage opportunities but just lacked the power to finish. Maybe it takes that one shot that gets past a goalie to open some sort of flood gate.


Statistics Of Note

With strong goal-tending this season, it should come as no surprise that the IceHogs are quite adept at killing penalties. Their kill rate of 87 percent is third in the AHL in this catagory. The power play is converting at just 14.5 percent, though.

The Hogs are still dead last in the league in goals and by a fair sight. They are scoring at a 2.27 goals per game clip. Rockford only gives up 2.88 goals per game, good for third in the AHL. As mentioned earlier, if the team’s top offensive players could start representing, the play in net could sustain a hot stretch.

As it is, Rockford (11-10-1-4) just hasn’t been able to string together victories. The IceHogs have not won more than two in a row all season long.


Three In Three

The weekend is book ended with meetings with the Griffins, with whom Rockford has split two previous meetings this season. The Hogs visit Van Andel Arena Friday and host Grand Rapids at the BMO Harris Bank Center Sunday afternoon.

Rockford has not fared well in Grand Rapids in recent seasons. In the past five years, the piglets are 5-11-3-0 at Van Andel Arena. The Giffins are third in the Central Division and are coming off of a 5-2 loss in Milwaukee Tuesday night.

On Saturday night, the IceHogs host Texas, who have won four straight and are fourth in the division standings. This is the third meeting between the two teams, having split the first two.

The Stars are scoring four goals a game and have the AHL’s second-best power play unit (28.4%). Leading the way for Texas is Eric Condra (13 G, 17 A), Denis Gurianov (9 G, 19 A), Justin Dowling (7 G, 17 A) and rookie Joel L’Esperance (12 G, 11 A).

Follow me @JonFromi on twitter for updates on the IceHogs all season long.




Everything Else

The Rockford IceHogs will commence a four-game home stand Saturday night. In fact, the Blackhawks AHL affiliate will be hosting opponents in seven of their next eight games. Perhaps the nets at the BMO Harris Bank Center will be more receptive to offerings from the piglets.

Through 22 games, the IceHogs scoring is down by over a half goal per contest in comparison to last season. In the month of November, Rockford was undefeated when scoring at least three goals. Unfortunately, that only happened four times.

The Hogs were 5-5-0-3 in November and are now 9-8-1-4 on the season. Rockford is averaging 2.41 goals per game. Last season, the IceHogs were scoring at a 2.95 goals per game clip. The record reflected that; Rockford was 12-9-1 around this point in last year’s schedule.

Due to other activity in the Central Division this week, the IceHogs are in sixth place in the standings. Manitoba improved its points percentage to .525, just ahead of Rockford (.523).

The roster held steady this week, with no new signings or movement between Rockford and Chicago. Coach Derek King will have a similar crew available to take on this weekend’s opponents.


The Weekend

Saturday, December 1-Milwaukee, 6:00 p.m.

The Admirals, who defeated Rockford in a shootout this past Saturday, have won four in a row heading into Friday’s game with Texas. Milwaukee is second in the Central Division and have been solid at both ends of the ice.

The IceHogs are 2-0-0-1 against the Ads this year. All three games have been at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena and decided by a single goal; two have required extra time. Milwaukee is 9-2-3 in one-goal games this season.


Sunday, December 2-San Antonio, 4:00 p.m.

The Rampage have won five of their last six contests, including two in San Antonio in that span. The Rampage will be playing in Grand Rapids Friday night and in Chicago Saturday before finishing a long weekend in Rockford.

San Antonio is the only team in the AHL below the Hogs in scoring with 2.38 goals per game. However, they have picked it up offensively in the last couple of weeks. The Hogs are 1-1-0-1 vs the Rampage so far this season.

Follow me @JonFromi for thoughts on the scene in Rockford all season long.


Everything Else

The Rockford IceHogs put a positive finish on what was a tough stretch for the Blackhawks AHL affiliate. The IceHogs were blown out at the BMO Harris Bank Center by the Chicago Wolves to start a three-in-three weekend. Rockford recovered to take a point in Milwaukee before knocking off the Wolves Sunday at Allstate Arena.

The win broke a six-game losing streak for the piglets and saw them hit the three-goal mark in a contest for the first time since November 10. Incidentally, Rockford defeated Chicago 4-3 that day in Rosemont.

The IceHogs (9-8-1-4) are fifth in the Central Division standings with a .523 points percentage. They could move up the ladder this week despite being inactive until Saturday night, when they host Milwaukee. Grand Rapids (.556), just above Rockford in the standings, plays Iowa, Chicago and San Antonio this week.


Putting The Feet Up

After playing ten of 13 November games on the road, the IceHogs will be settling in for a nice home stand to begin December. Rockford will be at the BMO exclusively for four games over the next two weeks. The Hogs visit Grand Rapids December 14, then return to Rockford for three more home games.

The Hogs were 5-3-0-2 on the road in November. Oddly enough, home cooking did not agree with the piglets. Rockford lost all three home games played this month. With seven of the next eight at the BMO, hopefully the boys can reverse that trend.

IceHogs coach Derek King welcomes the chance to unpack his suitcase. “We got a whole week of practice, then we’ve got a little home stand, so it will be nice to get home,” King said following Rockford’s 3-2 win in Rosemont. “I know my wife will be happy, being around the kids, too.”

“I think these guys need it. They need a little R and R; they need to get away from the rink, too. So, we’ll think about Monday off and maybe we’ll look for another day off during the week.”

There are several players on the mend in Rockford. Terry Boadhurst has missed a couple of weeks now and would be a nice addition when he returns. Collin Delia (see below) tweaked his leg Saturday night and could use the time to be recovered for the upcoming home games.

Roster Moves

On Saturday night, goalie Kevin Lankinen was recalled to Rockford. Collin Delia, who played the third period Friday and the entirety of the Hogs shootout loss in Milwaukee Saturday, suffered a lower body injury that kept him from suiting up in Sunday’s game with Chicago. Lankinen backed up Anton Forsberg in that game.

King hinted that Delia was being rested as a precaution. With nearly a week off, it would seem likely that he’ll be back in action this weekend.

Also returning to the IceHogs was forward Luke Johnson. The Blackhawks re-assigned Johnson to Rockford Sunday. He started for the Hogs against the Wolves, potting the game-winner early in the third period.

Johnson could be a spark for coach Derek King and the piglets as they enter the month of December. An alternate captain for much of his sophomore season in Rockford, Johnson will contribute at both ends as well as on both special teams.


A Quick Word On Last Night’s Trade News

The Blackhawks sent Nick Schmaltz to Arizona yesterday. In return, Chicago received forwards Dylan Strome and Brendan Perlini. I wouldn’t expect either player to make an appearance for the IceHogs in the near future (both players are waiver-exempt). However, it wouldn’t be a stretch to think Strome might wind up in Rockford for a spell.

Strome did play in the AHL for Tucson last season, putting up 53 points (22 G, 31 A) in 50 games for the Roadrunners. Perlini spent 17 games in Tucson back in 2016-17. He had 14 goals and five assists in his time in the AHL.

Strome, in particular, needs to show he can utilize his skills at the game’s highest level despite a lack of speed. There are plenty of first and second-round draft picks bouncing around the AHL who can dominate offensively but lack the skill set to do the same in NHL rinks. Here’s hoping Strome, who is still just a 21-year-old kid, can make that jump with the Blackhawks.


Friday, November 23-Chicago 7, Rockford 2

The losing streak reached five games as the visiting Wolves broke out in a big way against Rockford.

Chicago took a 1-0 lead when Hogs starter Anton Forsberg lost track of the puck following a shot on goal by Reid Duke. Forsberg believed he had the shot absorbed by his pads, but instead the puck trickled next to him for Curtis McKenzie to guide into the Rockford net at 4:39.

The IceHogs tied the game at the 8:25 mark with the teams skating four to a side. Anthony Louis took a drop pass from Jordan Schroeder along the left half boards, skated to the bottom of the left circle, and five-holed Wolves goalie Max Lagace.

The game began to get away from Rockford late in the opening frame. McKenzie and Schroeder took simultaneous roughing minors and the teams played four-on-four for two minutes. By the time the two veterans came out of the box, it was 3-1 Chicago.

Tomas Hyka made a slick feed to Zach Whitecloud coming down the slot; the shot got past the blocker of Forsberg, glanced off the left post, and put the Wolves up 2-1 at 17:07 of the first. Seconds later, Brandon Pirri went coast-to-coast with a Hogs turnover. The former Blackhawks farmhand capped off a marvelous play by going stick side on Forsberg at the 17:45 mark.

The Wolves took a 4-1 advantage when Nic Hauge finished off an odd-man rush at 3:42 of the second period. Rockford closed to 4-2 on a power play goal by Darren Raddysh, who took advantage of a Viktor Ejdsell screen. At that point, the bottom dropped out of the IceHogs game.

Chicago restored the three-goal advantage 35 seconds later, converting off a Blake Hillman turnover. Zac Leslie scored on a redirect for a 5-2 Wolves lead. Pirri fed Hyka in the left slot for a power play goal at the 12:11 mark, then Keegan Kolesar finished a 2-on-1 rush up the ice 18 seconds later to make it 7-2 Wolves.

Collin Delia entered the game for Forsberg to start the third period. Rockford out shot Chicago 16-13 in garbage time, though neither team made a dent in the score over the last 20 minutes.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Dylan Sikura-Tyler Sikura (A)-Jacob Nilsson

Matheson Iacopelli-Graham Knott-Henrik Samuelsson

Viktor Ejdsell-Jordan Schroeder-Anthony Louis

Hunter Fejes-Nathan Noel-Nick Moutrey

Darren Raddysh-Joni Tuulola

Carl Dahlstrom (A)-Blake Hillman

Dennis Gilbert-Andrew Campbell (A)

Anton Forsberg

Collin Delia

Power Play (1-4)



Penalty Kill (Chicago was 1-6, Hogs did kill off two 5-on-3s)


T. Sikura-Nilsson-Campbell-Hillman



Saturday, November 24-Milwaukee 2, Rockford 1 (SO)

Collin Delia turned away all but one of the 29 shots he faced, but Milwaukee’s Troy Grosenick was his equal in regulation and came up with the stops in the shootout. The IceHogs dropped their sixth-straight decision in frustrating fashion.

Matheson Iacopelli was the recipient of a turnover by Ads goalie Troy Grosenick. Taking Grosenick’s outlet attempt at the right circle, Iacopelli fired into the vacated net at 3:03 for a 1-0 Rockford lead.

Seconds later, Justin Kirkland got a shot on net that glanced off the stick of Andrew Campbell and trickled under the pads of Rockford starter Collin Delia. This evened up the game at the 3:44 mark.

Both goalies shut down their respective nets through the remainder of regulation. Milwaukee had a two-man advantage in overtime after Tyler Sikura and Nathan Noel were sent to the box a minute apart. However, the Hogs held firm and forced the shootout.

Anthony Richard and Kirkland beat Delia in the first two rounds. Anthony Louis was denied by Grosenick’s right pad; Viktor Ejdsell was stopped by his left and the contest came to an end. Grosenick, who made 31 saves plus two shootout stops, was awarded the game’s First Star.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Jacob Nilsson-Tyler Sikura (A)-Henrik Samuelsson

Dylan Sikura-Graham Knott-Justin Auger

Annthony Louis-Jordan Schroeder-Viktor Ejdsell

Matheson Iacopelli-Nathan Noel-Nick Moutrey

Carl Dahlstrom (A)-Lucas Carlsson

Andrew Campbell (A)-Dennis Gilbert

Joni Tuulola-Darren Raddysh

Colin Delia

Power Play (0-7)

Nilsson-T. Sikura-D. Sikura-Auger-Dahlstrom


Penalty Kill (Admirals were 0-6)


T. Sikura-Nilsson-Campbell-Carlsson



Sunday, November 25-Rockford 3, Chicago 2

The Hogs avenged Friday’s blowout loss with a more focused effort, ending a six-game losing streak.

After killing off a pair of Chicago power plays early in the game, the IceHogs took a 1-0 lead on a Tyler Sikura goal. Sikura had set up Graham Knott at the right circle for a one-timer with an open net at which to shoot. Knott misfired and the Wolves cleared the zone. Sikura regained possession in the neutral zone, skated to the right circle and fired under the pads of Chicago goalie Max Lagace at 12:15.

Following the subsequent faceoff, the Wolves came up with an equalizer. Gage Quinney out-maneuvered Luke Johnson coming down the left side and sent a centering pass to Tomas Hyka streaking to the left post. Hyka redirected the pass by Hogs starter Anton Forsberg and into the net to make it 1-1 at the 12:47 mark.

The score stayed even until late in the second period, where the Hogs power play came up big. Viktor Ejdsell gloved a blocked pass attempt by Jordan Schroeder and brought it around the net to Anthony Louis. Louis waited it out at the right circle before hitting Ejdsell at the goal line with a pass. Ejdsell backed up a bit and went far side on Lagace to put Rockford ahead 2-1 at 18:50 of the middle frame.

The IceHogs posted a big goal early in the third. The play started when Dylan Sikura was the first man to a loose puck in the neutral zone. He backhanded a pass to Jacob Nilsson as the center was crossing the Wolves blueline. Nilsson went across the ice to Luke Johnson, who was seeing his first action for Rockford since being sent down by the Hawks.

Johnson sent a wrist shot from the top of the right circle that went past Lagace’s blocker and snuggled into the soft twine in the back of the Chicago net. The Rockford advantage was now 3-1 5:13 into the third.

Chicago closed to within a goal with 4:24 remaining with Lagace on the Wolves bench and pulled him again with just under two minutes left. Despite losing three draws in the defensive zone, Forsberg and the Hogs were able to persevere and pick up their first win since beating Chicago back on November 10.

Ejdsell, Chicago’s Reid Duke, and Johnson were named the three stars of the game. Forsberg picked up a measure of redemption with 26 saves after surrendering seven goals to the Wolves two days hence.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Dylan Sikura-Jacob Nilsson-Luke Johnson

Tyler Sikura (A)-Graham Knott-Henrik Samuelsson

Anthony Louis-Jordan Schroeder-Viktor Ejdsell

Nick Moutrey-Nathan Noel-Justin Auger

Lucas Carlsson-Carl Dahlstrom (A)

Andrew Campbell (A)-Dennis Gilbert

Joni Tuulola-Darren Raddysh

Anton Forsberg

Power Play (1-5)



Penalty Kill (Wolves were 0-4)


T. Sikura-Nilsson-Campbell-Carlsson



Follow me on twitter @JonFromi for game updates and thoughts on the IceHogs throughout the season.


Everything Else

The ‘Bago County Flying Piglets have business in Texas this weekend. Chicago’s AHL affiliate flew to the Lone Star State yesterday and are getting ready for a pair of Central Division contests.

Rockford begins the action in Cedar Park with the Texas Stars. The Hogs travel to San Antonio Saturday to face the Rampage in what will be the first of two games. That second game will be on Tuesday.

This is as good a time as any to visit the IceHogs two southern-most division opponents. Texas is siting at .500 right now and the Rampage are the worst team in the AHL right now. Still, it won’t be a cakewalk for Rockford, who have been missing some key players and are tossing a lot of players into the forward mix.


Morning Blues

The IceHogs had another morning game this week, losing 3-1 in Grand Rapids. Rookie Filip Zadina’s two goals were the difference; Jacob Nilsson potted his second of the campaign for Rockford. However, Zadina’s second of the night plus an empty netter by the Griffins in the third period did in the Hogs.

It has become an annual tradition that the IceHogs host a morning game and pack the BMO with school children. Hopefully, young fans are being cultivated due to this practice. It certainly isn’t producing winning hockey.

The IceHogs don’t fare well when playing earlier in the day. Going back to the 2011-12 season, Rockford is 3-9 when playing one of these morning games, whether at home or in another team’s barn. Since the Hogs began hosting a morning game in 2013-14, Rockford is 1-5, including a 3-0 loss to Iowa November 9.

The IceHogs have been a bit better when playing on Martin Luther King Day, splitting their last six games played at 1:00 p.m. in the BMO on that day.


Roster Moves

Head coach Derek King confirmed Tuesday that Anton Forsberg, who has been awesome for Rockford since being assigned to the AHL, is managing an illness that necessitated the recall of Kevin Lankinen Sunday night. It will be Lankinen and Collin Delia as the goalie tandem for the road trip.

With two games with the low-scoring Rampage this trip, it might be a good plan to go with Delia Friday against the Stars. Lankinen could face San Antonio the next night, with Delia getting the net Tuesday in the return match. Of course, Delia could well start all three of these games.

Monday, the IceHogs signed forward Nick Moutrey to a PTO. Between Cleveland and Belleville last season, the 6’3” Moutrey had five goals and six assists. He’s another big body to go with the others that have been collected in recent weeks by Rockford.

Connor Moynihan was re-assigned to the ECHL’s Indy Fuel Monday. King was hopeful that this weekend would see the return of forward Jordan Schroeder, who has been out the last nine games.


Texas-Friday, 7:00 p.m.

This will be the second meeting of the season between the two teams that faced off in last spring’s Western Conference Final. Rockford beat Texas 5-3 at the BMO Harris Bank Center back on October 13.

The Stars (6-6-1-1) are paced by Denis Gurianov, who has seven goals and seven helpers in 13 games. Rookie Joel L’Esperance also has seven goals for Texas. Forwards Eric Condra (5 G, 7 A), Justin Dowling (3 G, 9 A), Michael Mersch (5 G, 5 A) and Colton Hargrove (5 G, 5 A) also are double-digit point producers for Texas.

Defensemen Gavin Bayreuther and Joel Hanley are now skating for Dallas of the NHL. The Hogs will get their first look at veteran Taylor Fedun, who Dallas acquired in a trade with Buffalo last week. Fedun is a steady point-producer who has six assists so far in 11 games between Rochester and Texas. Rookie Benjamin Gleason is tops on the blueline for the Stars, with two goals and four assists for the season.

Landon Bow should get the call for the Stars Friday. The third-year goalie is coming off a loss to Manitoba in which he surrendered five goals. Bow has a 3.00 goals against average and a .893 save percentage.


San Antonio-Saturday, 7:00 p.m.

The Rampage are 4-12 thus far. That .250 points percentage is by far the lowest in the league. The problem for San Antonio has been getting pucks in the opposing net, though they did break a three-game skid with a 5-0 win over Manitoba Tuesday night. Jordan Nolan (3 G, 4 A) had a pair of goals in that game.

Rockford beat the Rampage 5-2 back on October 24 behind a 29-save performance by Delia. Four IceHogs poured in four goals in the second period to take control of the game.

Nolan shares the team lead in goals with Klim Kostlin (3 G, 4 A), Trevor Smith (3 G, 2 A) and Ryan Olsen (3 G, 1 A). Veterans Brian Flynn and Chris Butler each have a goal and seven assists to lead San Antonio in scoring.

Jordan Binnington (3-3-0-2, 2.13 GAA, .924 save percentage) shut out the Moose Tuesday and should get at least one start against Rockford. Ville Husso, who gave up four to the Hogs back in the October 24 contest, is scuffling with a 1-9 record, a 3.58 goals against average and an .879 save percentage.

Follow me @JonFromi on twitter for game updates and thoughts on the goings-on in Rockford all season long.



Everything Else

The Rockford IceHogs had a pleasant weekend away from the BMO. New head man Derek King put some new faces in the lineup; it paid off with a pair of victories for Chicago’s AHL affiliate.

The Hogs got some excellent play in net from both Anton Forsberg and Collin Delia to knock off two of the Central Division’s better clubs. Friday saw Rockford beat Milwaukee 2-1 before King and company went into Rosemont and bested the Chicago Wolves. The IceHogs won the first meeting of the Illinois rivals this season 4-3 on Saturday night.

King has a lot of skaters nursing injuries and wasn’t afraid to get some recently acquired players into action. One that made an immediate impact was forward Justin Auger, who opened the scoring in both contests this weekend.

The 6’6″ Auger was on a power play unit this weekend, as was Hunter Fejes, another player who was signed to a PTO by the Hogs. AHL signing Connor Moynihan appeared in both games for Rockford. Saturday, with Tyler Sikura feeling ill and being a late scratch, Brett Welychka was back in the lineup.

Rockford has added several players to the roster, which should promote a sense of competition among a team of prospects. With Terry Broadhurst inactive for the weekend set and Sikura sitting on Sunday to go with injuries to Jordan Schroeder and Matthew Highmore, it was great to see players stepping up to beat a couple of quality division foes.


Lankinen Recalled

On Sunday, goalie Kevin Lankinen was recalled to Rockford. I can only speculate as to why this is, but here goes:

  • The Blackhawks want Lankinen to spend a few days under the watchful eye of their coaching staff. It is possible that he could start the Hogs Wednesday morning game in Grand Rapids.
  • Collin Delia took a lot of contact in Saturday’s win in Chicago. He did not seem to have suffered ill effects, but an issue may have been revealed post-game. Delia (5-2-2, 2.41, .931) was terrific at Allstate Arena, stopping 37 of 40 shots in what turned out to be a very physical game around the net.
  • Forsberg tweaked something in his appearance Friday night in Milwaukee. Forsberg was outstanding for the Hogs, especially early when Rockford was out of sorts. In four games with the IceHogs, Forsberg sports a 3-1 record, a 1.75 goals against average and a .933 save percentage. Both Forsberg and Delia are among the top-performing goalies in the AHL at the present time.
  • Someone’s getting dealt. Who that could be is anyone’s guess.


The Perch

With fifteen games in the books for the 2018-19 season, Rockford is 8-4-1-2. With a .633 point percentage, the piglets are in third place in the Central Division. Milwaukee and Iowa are the two teams ahead of the Hogs.

Rockford has points in their last six road games (5-0-1). They have three games in opposing barns this week, starting with a morning game in Grand Rapids on Wendesday. The IceHogs will fly to Texas for a Friday date the Stars. Games in San Antonio await the Hogs Saturday and the following Tuesday.

Dylan Sikura (5 G, 7 A) and Darren Raddysh (4 G, 8 A) pace Rockford with 12 points. Sikura has fired 56 shots on goal, by far the most active on the team through 15 games.



Friday, November 9-Rockford 2 , Milwaukee 1

Rockford started very slowly, picked up the play as the game progressed and found a way to knock off the Admirals for the second time in a week. Interim head coach Derek King got his first win behind the bench.

The IceHogs got some outstanding play in net from Anton Forsberg, allowing them to stay in the game throughout an uneven first period. The teams went into the first intermission in a scoreless tie.

Rockford built momentum as the second period wore on, taking a 1-0 lead at the 14:42 mark. Darren Raddysh got the play started by forcing a turnover in neutral ice. Lucas Carlsson chased down a loose puck in his own zone and skated along the left half boards across the Admirals blue line.

Carlsson slid the puck over to Justin Auger, in his first appearance for the IceHogs. Auger settled the puck in the high slot before shooting low on Milwaukee goalie Tom McCullom. The shot reached nirvana to end a four-period scoring drought for Rockford.

The Hogs lead was short-lived. Colin Blackwell collected a loose puck in neutral ice, skated to the bottom of the right circle and sent a shot past Forsberg that caught the crossbar and entered the net. The game was tied at one at 15:28 of the second and stayed that way when the teams went to the locker rooms.

After coming up empty on a couple of strong power plays, the IceHogs got the go-ahead goal 15:59 into the third period. The play got started with a Darren Raddysh point shot that was wide of the mark. The puck nearly came out of the Ads zone but was held in by Graham Knott just inside the blue line.

Joni Tuulola took in a pass from Knott, skated to the top of the left circle and fired to McCullom’s stick side. Rubber and twine united as one, with the IceHogs taking a 2-1 lead. Milwaukee pulled McCullom in the final minutes but Forsberg made the required stops to preserve a hard-fought victory.

Raddysh, Blackwell and Tuulola were the games Three Stars. However, the only reason Rockford was in a position to win this game was Forsberg, who made 19 saves and prevented an early Admirals lead with several high-quality saves in the first two periods.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Dylan Sikura-Jacob Nilsson-Viktor Ejdsell

Tyler Sikura (A)-Anthony Louis-Justin Auger

Hunter Fejes-Graham Knott-Henrik Samuelsson

Matheson Iacopelli-Nathan Noel-Connor Moynihan

Lucas Carlsson-Carl Dahlstrom (A)

Darren Raddysh-Joni Tuulola

Blake Hillman-Gustav Forsling

Anton Forsberg

Power Play (0-3)



Penalty Kill (Admirals were 0-2)


T. Sikura-Knott-Forsling-Dahlstrom



Saturday, November 10-Rockford 4, Chicago 3

A big second period and 37 Collin Delia saves propelled the Hogs to the win in the first meeting of the season between two Central Division rivals.

Rockford withstood several early chances by the Wolves before Justin Auger won control of a puck in the corner of the IceHogs zone. He guided the biscuit to Anthony Louis, who sent it along the left half boards and across the Chicago blue line.

Graham Knott won a race to the puck and drove to the front of the net. The play was broken up, but Auger was on hand to pressure the Wolves and found the loose puck on his stick. Auger slid it behind Chicago goalie Oscar Dansk at 15:15 of the opening period for a 1-0 Rockford advantage.

The Wolves countered in the waning seconds of the first with a power play goal by Brooks Macek, who slammed home a Daniel Carr rebound with 3.9 seconds remaining. The teams went to the locker room even at one goal apiece.

The key stretch of the game came early in the middle frame. With the teams skating four to a side, Lucas Carlsson uncorked a one-timer off of Viktor Ejdsell’s faceoff win from the right point. Dansk was unable to detain the puck and Rockford was back on top 2-1 at the 1:35 mark.

The Wolves were down two players due to penalties soon after, setting up another long-range bomb. This one came from the stick of Darren Raddysh, who one-timed a pass from Gustav Forsling at the top of the left circle past the blocker of Dansk. The Hogs led 3-1 at 2:58 of the second.

Halfway into the second period, the Rockford power play struck again. Forsling sent a slap shot toward the Chicago goal that rebounded off Dansk and into the slot. Ejdsell was on hand to collect the puck and pass to Dylan Sikura at the bottom of the right circle. The resulting shot caught twine at 10:55 to make it 4-1 Rockford.

The Hogs needed each of those tallies to outlast the Wolves, who had their offensive prowess on display. Keegan Kolesar batted in a rebound of a Brandon Pirri shot on a delayed penalty call to cut the lead to 4-2 at 13:31 of the second. Chicago then turned up the heat in the final 20 minutes.

Delia found himself fending off an onslaught of rubber throughout the third period. The IceHogs penalty kill stopped two Wolves chances; after Raddysh was called for interference with 7:40 remaining, Chicago brought Dansk to the bench for a two-man advantage that Rockford stopped. Dansk spent most of the remainder of the contest behind the boards as the Wolves slammed away at the Rockford goalie.

Macek eventually got his second goal of the game to make it 4-3, but that came with just 22 seconds to go in regulation. The piglets held on despite 20 Chicago shots on goal in the third to post their second win in as many days.

Sikura, Macek and Ejdsell were voted the game’s three stars, though Delia certainly deserves a mention for stopping 37 of 40 shots. Most of those shots came with heavy traffic in front of his net.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Hunter Fejes-Nathan Noel-Henrik Samuelsson

Anthony Louis-Graham Knott-Justin Auger

Dylan Sikura-Jacob Nilsson-Viktor Ejdsell

Connor Moynihan-Brett Welychka-Matheson Iacopelli

Gustav Forsling (A)-Dennis Gilbert

Carl Dahlstrom (A)-Lucas Carlsson

Darren Raddysh-Joni Tuulola

Collin Delia

Power Play (2-7)



Penalty Kill (Wolves were 1-6)





Waking Up With The Griffins

Grand Rapids, who hosts the IceHogs Wednesday morning, are 6-6-0-1 on the season. They have, however, played well at Van Andel Arena (3-1-0-1).

The Griffins are led in scoring by a pair of long-time AHL veterans, Chris Terry (8 G, 3 A) and Camper Carter (2 G, 9 A). Matt Peumpel, who notched 22 goals for Grand Rapids last season, has five goals and five helpers this season.

There’s a lot of veteran presence on the Griffins. Returning faces include forwards Martin Ford (3 G, 4 A) and Turner Elson (3 G, 5 A). Defenseman Dylan McIlrath is a nine-year AHL vet. Fellow blueliner Brian Lashoff is starting his tenth year with Grand Rapids. Both are big, physical players who have been dishing it out against Rockford for years.

Former Sharks prospect Harri Sateri spent several seasons in the KHL and now patrols the net for the Griffins. In nine games, he’s 4-5 with a 3.71 goals against average and an .867 save percentage. Patrik Rybar (2-1-1, 2.21, .905) comes from several seasons playing in his native Slovakia. He had a rough debut against the Wolves but has played well in three other starts for the Griffins.

Follow me @JonFromi on twitter for thoughts on the IceHogs throughout the season.



Everything Else

The Rockford IceHogs are opening up their longest road trip of the 2018-19 campaign this weekend. The piglets are currently 6-4-1-2, good for a .577 points percentage and fourth place in the AHL’s Central Division. Of course, the big news out of Winnebago County is that Rockford has a new head coach.

Following Jeremy Colliton’s ascension to the head post in Chicago, The IceHogs named assistant Derek King Rockford’s interim head coach. King has been in the organization for two years prior to this one. He served on Ted Dent’s staff in 2016-17 as well on Colliton’s staff last season.

A more than capable offensive forward with a 14-year NHL career as a player, King was an assistant for the Toronto Marlies for six seasons before coming to Rockford. This is his first shot at helming an AHL club.

How will King fare with the piglets for the remainder of the season? At the moment, he inherits a banged-up group that may be getting some key players back in the coming days. There are several new faces coming in, with Rockford signing a couple of skaters to tryouts this week.

If Hawks GM Stan Bowman fortifies his squad like he did for Colliton in the second half last season, he should do just fine. If they don’t, the organization will have to assess how far King has progressed a young team before talk of a permanent position can commence.

For all the talk of Colliton’s magic touch with Chicago’s prospects, one must not forget that it was the influx of veterans and NHL players late in the season that propelled the IceHogs to the Western Conference Final. Without the nudge from management, Rockford is a fifth or sixth-place team in the Central last season.

This isn’t a knock on Colliton, who had the youngsters playing hard. However, don’t expect King to get this current roster deep into the playoffs without similar help from above. Check out last season’s year in review to see how the roster transformation affected Rockford’s fortunes.


Roster Moves

The IceHogs brought up forward Connor Moynihan on Wednesday. They also signed Hunter Fejes to a Player Try Out agreement. Thursday, the Hogs inked former Kings farmhand Justin Auger to a similar pact, then sent Radovan Bondra, Josh McArdle and Neil Manning back to Indy Thursday afternoon.

It appears that King wants to foster an atmosphere of competition among his players. Even with several injuries throughout the lineup, there are plenty of options for the new boss.

McArdle and Manning returning to the Fuel likely means that some of the injured defensemen are ready to come back. Andrew Campbell, Carl Dahlstrom, Gustav Forsling and Luc Snuggerud all have missed time of late. I’d guess one or two of those players crack the lineup this weekend.


School’s Out Recap

Wednesday, November 7-Iowa 3, Rockford 0

A school-aged audience came out to the BMO Harris Bank Center for a 10:30 puck drop. Unfortunately, the Hogs were blanked in Derek King’s debut as top man on the Rockford bench.

The Wild power play struck late in the opening period, with Cal O’Reilly finding Sam Anas skating to the right post. Hogs goalie Collin Delia left the back door open and Anas gave Iowa a 1-0 lead at 17:17 of the first.

Colton Beck used a second, and then a third effort, to knock a puck past Delia 2:47 into the middle frame for a two-goal Wild advantage. O’Reilly converted on an empty net late in the game to complete the scoring for Iowa.

The IceHogs had no solution for Kappo Kahkonen, who made 28 saves while picking up his second win over Rockford in five days. Kahkonen was voted the game’s first star.


Weekend Preview-Hitting The Road

Milwaukee Admirals-Friday, 7:00 p.m.

The IceHogs pulled out an overtime decision over the Admirals in Milwaukee just last Friday. Darren Raddysh was good for a pair of goals in Rockford’s 3-2 win at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.

Milwaukee is now in third place in the Central Division. The Ads dropped games in Grand Rapids and at home to the Wolves since falling to the IceHogs.

Zach Magwood accounted for both Admirals goals last week against Rockford. The rookie has four points (2 G, 2 A) in six appearances.


Chicago Wolves-Saturday, 7:00 p.m.

In a far-away land of magic, rainbows and quality deep-dish pizza, a grail was forged from the fires of vulcanized rubber. An ethereal chalice to be sought after by those that glide on ice in search of excellence. Unfortunately, no one knows where this emblem of pure victory is currently located. In its stead, these Interstate 90 rivals will be battling for the Illinois Lottery Cup.

I’m pretty sure the Wolves are in possession of the ILC at the moment, having won the tie-breaker in last season’s series with the IceHogs. As a small measure of vengance, the Hogs swept Chicago in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs last spring.

The Wolves are tied with Iowa for the Central Division lead. They’re 8-3-0-1, on a two-game win steak and the Western Conference’s most potent offensive team. Chicago is putting up 4.17 goals per contest and are doing a lot of that damage at even strength.

European import Brooks Macek is tied with Cleveland’s Zac Dalpe for the AHL lead in goals (12) and points (19). Bolstered by five power-play goals, Daniel Carr (8 G, 10 A) is right behind Macek and Dalpe in scoring. Both Macek and Carr are plus-18 just 12 games into the season, which also tops the AHL. Center Gage Quinney (7 G, 5 A) is merely a plus-16 so far.

As if the Wolves didn’t have enough offensive firepower, they return Brandon Pirri (4 G, 9 A) and T.J. Tynan (4 G, 8 A) from last year’s club. Curtis McKenzie (2 G, 9 A), captain of the Texas Stars last season, comes to Chicago to add to the veteran talent.

The Wolves picked up former Milwaukee defenseman Jimmy Oligny this summer. Zac Leslie came over last season from Ontario and adds experience. Rookie Erik Brannstrom leads the blueline with three goals and seven apples.

The goal tending is in the capable hands of Max Legace (2.26 GAA, .919 save percentage) and Oscar Dansk, who is 5-1-1 so far this season despite a 3.14 goals against average and an .896 save percentage.

Follow me @JonFromi on twitter for updates on this weekend’s action, as well as Hogs-related thought all season long.