The Rockford IceHogs, American Hockey League affiliate of the Blackhawks, are getting underway with training camp for the 2020-21 campaign on Monday. With the season set to kick off on February 5, the ‘Bago County Flyin’ Piglets once again take to the BMO Harris Bank Center to do battle with the other teams of the AHL.

Sort of. The schedule is cut down to 30 games, the opponents are cut down to four, and the roster…well, we shall address that in just a bit.

Derek King is back for his second full season at the helm of the IceHogs. He’s 58-55-3-6 since taking over for Jeremy Colliton early in the 2028-29 season. King will be working with a lot of new faces, as is per usual for Rockford.

How much do the IceHogs have returning from the 2019-20 campaign? Let’s take a look at the stat sheet.

Starting at the top of the list of last season’s top point scorers in Rockford:

  1. Tyler Sikura (14 G, 20 A)-He’ll be at the BMO when the season opens-as a member of the Cleveland Monsters, with whom he signed in October.
  2. Dylan Sikura (14 G, 19 A)-Traded to Vegas and currently set to skate for their AHL team in Henderson.
  3. Brandon Hagel (19 G, 12 A)-Last season’s goals leader for the Hogs is with the Blackhawks.
  4. Mackenzie Entwistle (11 G, 15 A)-Currently on the Hawks taxi squad.
  5. Lucas Carlsson (5 G, 21 A)-Same.

Forward John Quenneville, sixth in team scoring with 13 goals and nine helpers, has been assigned to Rockford. I could continue down this list, but it gets a little too dire for me to have to write. Only the 14th (AHL contract Gabriel Gagne) and 20th (Chad Krys) of the Hogs top scorers join Quenneville in Rockford. In all, the Hogs have just ten skaters who saw action with Rockford last season heading into training camp.

The taxi squad delivers quite the blow to the IceHogs offensive potential. Brandon Pirri, who has cleared waivers, is an AHL scoring machine but may or may not be assigned to Rockford. Entwistle and Carlsson are returning prospects who could both be expected to improve upon previous AHL efforts.

Even with players like Hagel, Phillip Kurashev, and the aforementioned taxi squad skaters, the Hogs would be hard-pressed to qualify as even an average offensive squad. This is a team that struggled to put three goals on the board last season.

Rockford wound up 29th out of 31 teams in goals scored last season. The team right below them, the Chicago Wolves, will be drawing prospects from Carolina, whose affiliate in Charlotte won a Calder Cup in 2019. They will also be sent prospects from Nashville, whose affiliate in Milwaukee was the league juggernaut up until the season was canceled in March.

Rockford should not expect the same influx of top-end prospects. The IceHogs cupboard is bare. In terms of AHL game experience, the piglets are dead last of the 28 teams set to begin the 2020-21 season. (Springfield, Charlotte and Milwaukee opted out of play for 2020-21.)

Doubling down on young prospects is the way the Hawks organization has decided to play this shortened AHL season. A team wanting to compete this year could snap up several impact players even at as the AHL approaches its startup date. Many teams, including Rockford, are passing on the solid AHL talent still out there, probably due to financial reasons.

Like a lot of teams around the league, the IceHogs will begin play in an empty BMO. That may be the case for the bulk of the 30-game schedule. Little or no revenue coming in and no plan for a postseason make this an understandable, if a less than optimal, path moving forward.

On the other hand, a lot of young players who may otherwise have no shot at steady AHL minutes have been afforded a small window of opportunity. A slew of them could be skating for Rockford.


The 2020-21 Schedule

As previously stated, Rockford has a 30-game slate. The Hogs are in the six-team Central Division, though they have no games scheduled with the Texas Stars. Rockford’s action this season is comprised of dates with the four remaining Central Division teams.

The Hogs have ten games with the Iowa Wild and eight apiece between the Chicago Wolves and the Grand Rapids Griffins. Rockford also has four match-ups with the Cleveland Monsters, who visit the BMO for a two-game set February 5 and 6 to kick off the season.

Fans will not be allowed into the BMO to begin the season. That could chance later in the spring, though the schedule makers did Rockford no favors in this regard. Ten of RFD’s first 16 games, through the end of March, are at home. Starting in April, the Hogs have just five home dates in their remaining 14 games.

Let’s begin our look at the team that could awaiting the puck drop against the Monsters February 5 with a look at the crease.



With the NHL required to keep three goalies on the roster/taxi squad, the only net-minder under contract to the Blackhawks currently eligible to skate for the IceHogs is 26-year-old Matt Tomkins. Tomkins is in the last year of a two-year contract he signed in the middle of the 2019-20 campaign.

Despite being signed to NHL ink by Chicago, the organization hasn’t really given Tomkins a lot of playing time. He seemed to have earned a contract with strong play in nine starts in the first half of the season when Collin Delia was struggling mightily and Kevin Lankinen was battling injuries. Following his signing on January 23 of 2020, he made just four appearances before play was halted in March.

The Hawks seventh-round selection in the 2012 NHL Draft, Tomkins seemingly has his biggest opportunity with the team since turning pro. He played well when called upon last season; we’ll see if he gets regular work as the Hogs begin action.

Rockford also has a pair of goalies signed to AHL deals. Tom Aubrun, who was signed to a two-year contract after a standout career at NCAA Division III Norwich University, is currently with the Indy Fuel of the ECHL, where he has seen limited action. Former Chicago Steel and Notre Dame goalie Cale Morris was signed to a one-year contract by Rockford back in October.

Lankinen is the only Hawks goalie who is waiver exempt. The way he has played early in the season for Chicago, it seems unlikely that he, Delia or Malcom Subban are sent to Rockford. This leaves Tomkins, Morris and Aubrun responsible for the pipes at the BMO.

Not so fast, pilgrim. Sunday night, Tony Androckitis of reported that former Hogs and Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling had signed to play in Rockford this season.

Darling parlayed a strong first half of the 2014-15 season with the IceHogs into success with the Blackhawks and a big contract with Carolina. The Hurricanes later bought out Darling, who has struggled with his game the past three seasons.

At this point, I’m not sure if Darling signed a standard contract with Rockford or just a PTO, which runs for 25 games. As training camp progresses, we should see what role Darling plays for the IceHogs.


Coming Up Friday: Season Preview, Part Two

The IceHogs have a preseason game scheduled for the afternoon of Wednesday, January 27 in Hoffman Estates. On Friday, I will take a closer look at the landscape at forward and defense.

Follow me @JonFromi on twitter to get my thoughts on the IceHogs throughout the AHL season.



The Rockford IceHogs, the Blackhawks affiliate in the American Hockey League, hope to continue their strong play into the month of December. The piglets got the month started right with a 4-2 win over Manitoba Tuesday. Another big Central Division weekend looms for the IceHogs. Friday sees Rockford in Grand Rapids. The first meeting of the season with Western Conference-leading Milwaukee is Saturday.


Roster Activity

On Tuesday, D Dennis Gilbert was recalled to the Blackhawks. Rockford has seven defenseman on its current roster. However, Philip Holm has been out the last couple of games and Lucas Carlsson took a puck in the face late in Tuesday’s game with the Moose. No one has been brought up from Indy this week, so I’d guess one or both players should be ready to play.


Weekday Recap

Tuesday, December 3-Rockford 4, Manitoba 2

Rockford won its third straight game behind a strong performance from goalie Collin Delia, who posted a 37-save performance in his first action since November 3.

The Hogs drew cord on the power play 4:15 into the contest. The play was set up with a long pass by Delia to Dylan Sikura. Sikura maneuvered to the high slot and drew three defenders before sliding the puck to MacKenzie Entwistle. The rookie forward went forehand-backhand on Manitoba goalie Mikhail Berdin, striking through the five-hole to put Rockford up 1-0.

The Moose quickly responded with a Seth Griffith goal. However, the piglets regained the lead on a point blast by Joni Tuulola. Tyler Sikura picked up the apple with some deft stick work along the half boards and the IceHogs held a 2-1 advantage at the 8:53 mark.

Manitoba came back with a power play goal by Skylar McKenzie 14:48 into the first. Delia, who was having trouble securing the puck at times, made a nice pair of saves late in the period to send the teams to intermission even at two goals.

Both teams had a couple of power play chances in the second period. Brandon Hagel had recently come out of the penalty box for hooking when Matthew Highmore slid a pass his way in front of the Rockford net. Hagel did the rest, streaking past the Moose defense to buzz the goal mouth and backhand the puck into the Manitoba cage. The IceHogs led 3-2 at the 16:48 mark and held that advantage as the teams skated to the second intermission.

Delia held off the charging Moose in the third period. The Hogs goalie stopped twelve shots, including an outstanding pad save on a back door attempt midway through the period. Nick Moutrey added an empty net goal with 32 seconds remaining in regulation to put a topper on the win.

Lines (Starters in italics)

John Quenneville-Tyler Sikura (C)-Matthew Highmore

Dylan Sikura-Phillipp Kurashev-Tim Soderlund

Brandon Hagel-Jacob Nilsson (A)-MacKenzie Entwistle

Nick Moutrey-Reese Johnson-Joseph Cramarossa

Joni Tuulola-Adam Boqvist

Lucas Carlsson-Dennis Gilbert (A)

Nicolas Beaudin-Ian McCoshen

Collin Delia

Matt Tomkins

Power Play (1-4)



Penalty Kill (Moose were 1-5)

Forwards-T. Sikura-Soderlund-Nilsson-Entwistle-Moutrey-Cramarossa



Previewing The Weekend

Friday night, Rockford is in Grand Rapids. The Griffins have lost six straight, including a 3-1 loss to the Hogs at the BMO last Saturday.

Saturday night is the IceHogs first look at the Milwaukee Admirals. It’s also the team’s annual Teddy Bear Toss Night. The Ads had a 13-game win streak snapped by Texas on Monday night but still lead the Central Division with a 17-4-1-2 mark.

Admirals center Yakov Trenin is second in the AHL with 14 goals this season. Daniel Carr (11 G, 10 A) was a 30-goal scorer with the Wolves last year but has been out of the Milwaukee lineup for a couple of weeks. The Admirals are bolstered by the scoring of Cole Schneider (6 G, 14 A), Colin Blackwell (6 G, 13 A) as well as defensemen Alexandre Carrier (3 G, 13 A) and Matt Donovan (1 G, 13 A). Former IceHogs forward Laurent Dauphin (5 G, 5 A) will also be facing off against Rockford.

It’s been a true tandem in goal for Milwaukee. Veterans Connor Ingram and Troy Grosenick have split the workload and together boast a 2.36 goals against average and a .921 save percentage. The Admirals are the stingiest defensive team in the AHL despite giving up over 31 shots a game, so the goalies are getting it done big time.

I would speculate that the Hogs will be facing Grosenick Saturday, as Ingram will likely play Friday when Milwaukee hosts Iowa. Regardless, getting pucks in the Ads net could prove challenging.

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






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.



Everything Else

Like many of you, weather and work kept me away from the BMO this weekend. I pledged to pack in an hour of Hogs-related musings. The clock starts…now.

First off, the kids down in Rockford put together a gritty weekend at home and came out with a pair of victories. Friday night, the IceHogs tied the game with a Jordan Schroeder goal with three seconds in regulation, completing a comeback from two goals down in the final two minutes with a 4-3 shootout win over Manitoba.

On Saturday, Rockford hosted Iowa. The Hogs got enough rubber past Kaapo Kahkonen knock off the Wild 3-1. The game-winner came off the stick of Terry Broadhurst early in the third period. First star of that game was Anton Forsberg, who stopped 33 of 34 Iowa shots.

So…for the sixth time this season, the IceHogs have a two-game win streak. Plus, Rockford joined the rest of the AHL on the 100-goal plateau this season, though those 105 goals are still last in the league.

Just once in the 2018-19 campaign has Rockford stretched a streak to three games. Conversely, the piglets have compiled losing streaks of six (twice) and four games. Rockford (19-19-3-5) shares the Central Division basement with the Moose. Both teams sport a .500 points percentage.

Can the IceHogs parlay a pair of home wins into some sort of climb up the division ladder? I just don’t know. As was the case at this point last year, the piglets were not a playoff-level squad. A lot of things had to change on the personnel side in February of 2018 to transform the roster into the juggernaut that reached the conference final.

As of this morning, this is not a roster that’s going to be competing for a postseason berth. Prove me wrong, boys.

Are there additions from the Hawks roster that could make a difference in the next couple of months? Not unless you think Gustav Forsling can come down and have the impact Cody Franson had in Rockford the last three months of last season. Which I don’t.

Even with some tinkering from above, the hole may be just a bit too deep for the Hogs to vacate. Like last year, the prospect talent alone isn’t close to being able to go on an extended tear through the league. Now, Rockford is two games into a stretch of nine home dates in a span of ten games. If this team has anything resembling a hot patch in it, now would be a great time to display that fire.

Broken record, but the goalies have really been good. Kevin Lankinen and Anton Forsberg have been splitting the work in net and the Swedish Connection continue to stand out despite some less than optimal goal support.

A quick look at this weekend’s AHL All-Star Classic puts things into perspective. With goalie Collin Delia in Chicago, the only representative is Western Conference captain Andrew Campbell.  The veteran defenseman was not selected for his play on the ice.

Anthony Louis is the team’s leading scorer with 27 points (10 G, 17 A). He’s on his way to a similar showing to last season’s 44-point effort. Dylan Sikura leads the team with 12 goals to go with a dozen assists. Jacob Nilsson picked up his 11th goal this weekend, while Louis and Jordan Schroeder each have ten.

Rookie defenseman Lucas Carlsson has been a bright spot, with seven goals and 15 helpers. Darren Raddysh has identical numbers, though he had just a single point in his last 12 games.

Alexandre Fortin assisted on Broadhurst’s game-winner Saturday. The trouble is that was his first point in a month. As was the case last year, Fortin hasn’t made an impact on the scoreboard, with just six points (2 G, 4 A) in 21 games.

Well…the sands are running out on me this week. Rockford hosts the Wolves this Friday, then visit Milwaukee Saturday. With two wins to close out the month, perhaps February is more hospitable to the IceHogs.

Follow me @JonFromi for tidbits on the Hogs throughout the season.


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, AHL affiliate of the Blackhawks, have a real issue with goal scoring this season. As the midway point of the 2018-19 season approaches, it’s beginning to create some separation in the AHL’s Central Division standings. For the Hogs, that’s not in a good way.

As has been the case for a while now, Rockford is in sixth place in the division. However, the gap between the IceHogs and fifth-place Milwaukee is growing. The Hogs (.514 points percentage) are closer to seventh-place San Antonio (.485) than they are the Admirals (.571).

This week, the IceHogs were on the short end of a pair of 2-1 decisions. Kevin Lankinen and Anton Forsberg kept things close. In the end, Rockford was not up to the task offensively.

The defense, surrendering just 2.83 goals per game, is ranked fifth in the league. It’s a crying shame the organization doesn’t put some goal-scorers on this team every year. Right now, the IceHogs are made up of prospects and a couple of decent complimentary scorers.

As of this morning, the Hogs are still dead last in the AHL in scoring. Their figure has dropped over the last five games to 2.22 goals per contest. RFD has scored 0, 2, 1,1 and 1 in those past five. To the surprise of no one, the piglets have lost all five of those games.

If RFD is going to pick it up in the second half, some of the kids need to start finding the net. They also are going to need some help in the form of veteran pickups.

Last year, Stan Bowman filled the scoring needs with some trade deadline acquisitions, as well as assigning some players from the bottom of the Hawks roster. The bolstered Hogs reached the conference final. Two years ago, things went sour in Rockford when the team was not shored up with needed talent.

The organization may not start making moves for a few weeks yet. That means that the IceHogs are going to have to start treading water and hope help arrives.


All-Star Selections

The AHL announced the rosters for the leagues All-Star Classic in Springfield, Massachusetts at the end of this month. Andrew Campbell was named a captain of the Western Conference squad back on December 20. Goalie Collin Delia, who is currently playing with the Blackhawks, was also named from the Central Division.


Roster Moves

On Thursday, the IceHogs brought up defensemen Josh McArdle and Neil Manning from the Indy Fuel. Though Dennis Gilbert was back in the lineup this week after missing a few games, Lucas Carlsson and Jan Rutta were out for Wednesday’s game with Milwaukee. The IceHogs were forced to go with 13 forwards and just five defensemen against the Admirals.



Monday, December 31-Grand Rapids 2, Rockford 1

The scoreboard wasn’t used until the midpoint; Carter Camper converted for the Griffins on a two-man advantage at 11:19 of the second period. A goal by Graham Knott was waved off due to a goalie interference call on Luke Johnson a few minutes later.

Rockford tied the game for real after a faceoff win at the left dot by Nathan Noel. Henrik Samuelsson tapped the puck to Matheson Iacopelli, who slid it back to Lucas Carlsson just inside the Grand Rapids blueline. The long-distance shot got the best of Griffins goalie Harri Sateri and nestled into the twine to even the score at a goal apiece at 15:50 of the middle frame.

Grand Rapids took a 2-1 lead with 4:44 remaining in regulation when Chris Terry’s maneuvering created the space for Joe Hicketts to send a slap shot past Hogs goalie Kevin Lankinen. Lankinen was pulled with 2:32 to go for an extra skater, but the IceHogs weren’t able to get a shot past Sateri.


Wednesday, January 2, Milwaukee 2, Rockford 1

Rockford dropped its fifth-straight game, falling to the Admirals at the BMO in front of 3330 humans, several dozen canine friends and at least one pet of the porcine variety.

The Hogs dug a 2-0 hole for themselves over the first two periods. The Admirals swarmed Rockford in the opening minutes, taking a 1-0 advantage on a Yakov Trenin goal 1:45 into the contest. Connor Brickley put back a rebound of an Alexandre Carrier shot 4:21 into the second to double the Milwaukee lead.

Rockford’s starter in net, Anton Forsberg, did not allow another Admirals goal to give his club a chance to rally. The IceHogs had the game’s only four power play chances but could not convert. William Pelletier, Rockford’s most active skater all evening, redirected a Tyler Sikura shot for his first goal of the season. This cut the lead to 2-1 4:26 into the final period.

Hogs coach Derek King went with six skaters for the final two-and-a-half minutes, to no avail. Raddysh sent a shot off the left post but that’s as close as Rockford could get to the equalizer.


Wild Times With Iowa

The prospect of breaking Rockford’s losing streak is made tougher with a home-and-home series with the Iowa Wild this weekend. The Hogs begin the action in DesMoines Friday. The teams come to the BMO Harris Bank Center on Sunday.

Iowa sits atop the Cental Division. The Wild (19-8-4-3) won their fourth straight Wednesday night, beating Chicago 3-1. Iowa has won three of the four games against Rockford this season, outscoring the piglets 11-5 in those games.

The scoring has been spread throughout the lineup; 13 active Iowa skaters have double digit points, compared to just seven for the IceHogs. Cal O’Reilly, the Wild captain and an All-Star selection, paces his club with 25 points (5 G, 20 A). Iowa is getting goals from Gerry Fitzgerald (12), Colton Beck (10) and Justin Kloos (10).

Rookie goalie Kaapo Kahkonen has three wins over the Hogs this season. In fact, he’s shut them out twice. Rockford has just one goal against Kahkonen, who will also represent the Wild at the All-Star Classic, this season.

Of Rockford’s five goals against the Wild, Anthony Louis has three of them. Two came on November 4 in a 4-2 Hogs victory. Louis (8 G, 13 A) is tied with Darren Raddysh (7 G, 14 A) for the team lead in points with 21.

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


Everything Else

The Rockford IceHogs have 34 games behind them this season. They currently sit in sixth place in the AHL’s Central Division with a 15-12-3-4 mark, good for a .544 points percentage. Truth be told, this year’s Hogs are faring about as well as they did a season ago.

Yes, before the roster was bolstered with veteran talent in the last three months, it was a young, inexperienced group that was in a similar position at this time of the 2017-18 campaign. Through 34 games, that club was 18-14-1-1 for a .558. That’s about the difference of a standings point for those of you who don’t want to do the math.

The glaring difference in this year’s and last year’s club is the offensive numbers. The IceHogs of a season ago scored at nearly a goal per game better than this year’s crop of piglets. In 2017-18, Rockford had 105 goals scored and 101 goals allowed at this point of the season. This year, the Hogs have drawn cord 78 times while surrendering 98 goals.

Even with the Wolves putting together a 10-0-1 streak this month, the Central Division is pretty closely contested. No one has run away with the division yet. Last season, several teams put together hot stretches of hockey that had them moving up and down the division ladder. It stands to reason that the playoff spots are all up for the taking come spring.

For that to happen, Rockford is going to have to be better in the opposing zone. The IceHogs do not have a player in the top 20 scorers of the league. That’s a huge understatement, actually. Defenseman Darren Raddysh, Rockford’s top point man with 21, is currently tied for 85th in the AHL in that category.

Last season, the IceHogs were shut out just once. So far, Rockford has been already been blanked on four occasions. The lack of scoring punch is being felt all over the lineup

The Hogs potted three goals in three games this week, squeezing a point on Saturday because of a strong performance from goalie Kevin Lankinen. At 2.29 goals per game, they occupy the league basement. Like Saturday’s overtime loss, what’s keeping Rockford in contention this season is the play in the crease.

There is rarely elite scoring on the Hogs roster from year to year. Most seasons, they’ve put up points by committee. This season, Rockford again lacks top-end scoring power…and the committee has been out to lunch.

Matthew Highmore, last year’s high goal scorer, has missed all but seven games with a shoulder injury. Tyler Sikura, who put up 23 goals a season ago, has just six so far. Vikor Ejdsell is currently out with a groin injury and has just four goals in 27 games.

Jordan Schroeder has 18 points (7 G, 11 A) on the season and is putting up numbers that measure up to his past output in the AHL. However, he is a complimentary scorer. Veteran Terry Broadhurst (2 G, 4 A) hasn’t been productive from a scoring standpoint, but, like Schroeder, he isn’t a guy who should be pacing your club.

There are bright spots. Raddysh has stepped up his game in his sophomore campaign, with seven goals and 14 helpers. Rookie Lucas Carlsson (6 G, 10 A) has also come on in the last few weeks in response to increased responsibility on the blue line.

Jacob Nilsson (7 G, 8 A), who was up for one game with the Blackhawks, has five goals this month. Nilsson isn’t going to lead this team to offensive respectability single-handed. Several players need to bring more to the table. Here are but a few:

Graham Knott (2 G, 6 A in 32 games)-If this kid could find the net on the opportunities he’s had, it certainly would help. Knott has had some top-six time at center and has put himself in places to score at times. He just hasn’t shown any knack for getting a puck past a goalie in his season-plus in Rockford.

Alexandre Fortin (2 G, 3 A in 10 games)-Fortin seems to be a bit more under control after a spell in Chicago. He’s now getting top-line minutes and power play time with the Hogs. Now would be a good time for him to go on a points explosion.

William Pelletier (0 G, 2 A in five games)-Recently returned from offseason surgery, Pelletier is a player who can be used throughout the lineup. He’s capable of chipping in on the offensive end; hopefully he’ll start making a dent as he gets more games under his belt.

You can also toss Sikura and Broadhurst onto that heap. Unless the organization swings a trade that brings a blue-chip AHL goal scorer to town (not counting on it), Rockford is going to have to pick it up throughout the lineup.


Roster Bits

On Friday, Jacob Nilsson was sent back to Rockford by the Blackhawks. He played in both weekend games against Chicago. Defenseman Dennis Gilbert suffered a lower body injury in Wednesday’s loss in Iowa. He did not suit up for either game this weekend.

Following Sunday’s trade with Edmonton, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a player assigned to Rockford from the current Hawks roster. If Garrison, who had 28 points (8 G, 20 A) in 58 games with the Wolves last season, gets through waivers, his shot would be a welcome pickup for the IceHogs.



No lines this week.

Wednesday, December 26-Iowa 4, Rockford 0

This Boxing Day effort was nothing to write home about. The Hogs went to DesMoines and got shut out by Kaapo Kahkanen. The rookie goalie stopped 39 Rockford shots to continue his impressive season.

The IceHogs out shot Iowa 15-3 in the opening period, though neither team scored. The Wild took a 1-0 lead 3:11 into the second period on a Matt Bartkowski snipe. A defensive zone turnover led to a Gerry Fitzgerald goal at the 14:41 mark put the Hogs down a pair.

A Will Bitten tip-in made it 3-0 1:25 into the final frame and pretty much sealed the fate of Rockford. Hogs coach Derek King yanked starting goalie Kevin Lankinen for an extra skater with 3:17 remaining to try and foil the shutout bid, but Matt Read intercepted a pass and threw in an empty netter to close out the scoring.

Rockford denied three Wild power plays but failed to convert on four of its own man advantage opportunities.


Friday, December 28-Chicago 4, Rockford 2

Rockford dropped its second straight game despite leading twice in this game. Curtis McKenzie’s two goal effort provided the winning margin at the BMO Friday night.

After skating to the tune of no goals for most of the opening period, the teams traded goals in the latter part of the frame.

Jordan Schroeder got Rockford up 1-0 at the 15:26 mark. Schroeder got to a rebound off a Darren Raddysh shot at the right post, knocking his attempt through Wolves goalie Oscar Dansk and just across the goal line. Moments later, Chicago responded with a Curtis McKenzie goal. The teams went to the first intermission all even.

Lucas Carlsson was set up by Graham Knott early in the second period to give the Hogs a 2-1 lead. At the seven minute mark, the Wolves Keegan Kolesar potted the equalizer. After a delay of game penalty on Rockford, McKenzie drew cord on the power play for his second goal of the contest. His back hand attempt slipped under the stick arm of Hogs goalie Anton Forsberg at 11:24 to give Chicago a 3-2 advantage.

Late in the second period, the Wovles man advantage struck again. Dylan Coughlin sent a hard slap shot from the slot that skidded past Forsberg for a 4-2 Chicago lead with 14 seconds to play in the period.

The IceHogs made a push to get back into the contest but found the post uncooperative on numerous occasions in the third period. The Wolves couldn’t score, but didn’t need to.

Chicago won the special teams battle, converting twice in six chances. The IceHogs came up empty on four power play attempts.


Saturday, December 29-Chicago 2, Rockford 1 (OT)

The Hogs salvaged a point in Rosemont solely on the strength of Kevin Lankinen’s performance on the evening. The rookie goalie stopped 43 shots and weathered a first-period assault by the Wolves to keep his team in the game.

Chicago came out smoking; Lankinen fended off 25 of the 26 shots the Wolves sent at him in the opening frame. Brooks Macek capped an extended scrum in front of the crease by knocking in his 17th of the season at the 14:18 mark, giving Chicago a 1-0 lead that they would hold through the bulk of regulation.

Rockford managed to play a more competitive game after the first intermission. However, they wouldn’t come up with the equalizer until the waning minutes. Stefan Matteau provided the opportunity after throwing an elbow at the IceHogs Blake Hillman.

Nathan Noel and Curtis McKenzie were already in the bin of sin for an earlier altercation. As they exited the box, Jordan Schroeder faked the shotand hit Jacob Nilsson at the goal line with a pass. Nilsson got Wolves goalie Max Lagace to bite on a fake, scooted around the cage and beat Max Lagace to the right post. Nilsson’s wrap-around made it 1-1 with 3:25 remaining.

An IceHogs infraction would set up the Chicago game-winner. Rockford was called for too many men on the ice three minutes into Gus Macker Time. The Hogs got caught in a partial change and Macek set up McKenzie in front of the net. Lankinen stopped the point-blank chance, but Dylan Coughlin followed up on the rebound, backhanding the puck though Lankinen’s pads and across the goal line at 3:55 of overtime.

Both teams scored once on the power play; Rockford was one of four, while the Wolves were one for six.


This Week

The IceHogs will be in Grand Rapids Monday night to close out the 2018 portion of the schedule. Starting Wednesday, the Hogs will don their white sweaters at the BMO. First home date of the new year is with Milwaukee. Friday, Rockford travels to Iowa before hosting the Wild on Sunday afternoon.


Everything Else

The Rockford IceHogs are currently riding a three-game winning streak for the first time this season. The piglets are 7-2-1 over their last ten games heading into the holidays. Of those ten games, eight were decided by a single goal, either in regulation or via overtime or a shootout.

Each of the IceHogs victories in the current streak are of the one-goal variety. After besting Grand Rapids 2-1 back on December 16, Rockford has defeated Milwaukee (4-3) and Chicago (5-4) with clutch overtime goals.

In fact, Rockford’s last nine wins this season, dating back to November 9, have all been by one goal. The last time the winning margin was more than one was in Iowa on November 4, when the Hogs posted a 4-2 victory.

In that stretch, the IceHogs have also lost four games by one goal. Credit the play in goal for keeping Rockford competitive in the bulk of its games.


Points vs Points Percentage

Heading into post-Christmas action, Rockford is in sixth place in the Central Division with a .581 points percentage. The Hogs (15-10-2-4) have earned 36 points so far in 2018-19. So why not regale you with points as opposed to points percentage? Simple. The AHL standard is points percentage.

In part because the West Coast clubs play only 68 games, rather than the 76 everyone else plays, the four teams with the highest points percentage qualify for the Calder Cup Playoffs. Of course, the silly AHL website lists the teams according to points when the standings are shown.

I like going by points percentage, which takes most of the games-in-hand calculations out of the mix. If the season ended today, the IceHogs would not be a playoff team. The good news for Rockford is that Texas (.586), along with Milwaukee and Grand Rapids (.594) are within reach, so upward mobility is achievable.


Derek King’s Punchout

Rockford, as I mentioned last week, is the least-penalized team in the league. It’s interesting, however, to take a look at the fighting side of that ledger. The Hogs aren’t the roughest bunch of wranglers in the AHL, but they certainly have been a little quicker to drop the gloves under coach Derek King.

Last season, the IceHogs drew just 11 fighting majors. This was an all-time franchise low by a wide margin (the previous low was 2017-17’s 39 FMs) and the lowest in the AHL. Through the first 12 games of this season, under Jeremy Colliton, Rockford skaters had been involved in three fights. In 96 regular season games and 13 playoff contests, Colliton’s team picked up 14 fights.

In the first 19 games of the King regime, the Hogs have been been in seven fights. That equates to a full season total of 28 fights, still a paltry number even by recent league standards. Compared to Colliton, however, King is helming the Rock’em Sock’em Robots.

As I’ve mentioned countless times, AHL fight totals are dropping and the IceHogs have not been built to scrap. As a matter of fact, Rockford is better off avoiding such activities, as they are largely inexperienced in this area. However, it does appear that this year’s club is sticking up for itself with more frequency. The Hogs are currently tied for 16th in the AHL (with five other clubs) with 10 FMs on the season.

Two of those fights involved Hunter Fejes, who is no longer with the team after a stint on a PTO. Dennis Gilbert, who has brought a physical element to the defense, leads Rockford with four fights.


Roster Moves

On Saturday, the Blackhawks recalled Jacob Nilsson and sent Luke Johnson back to Rockford.



Friday, December 21-Rockford 5, Chicago 4 (OT)

For the third time this season, the Hogs ventured into Allstate Arena and beat the Wolves. This time, it took a good portion of extra skating to do so.

The teams exchanged goals midway through the opening period. Chicago’s T.J. Tynan created a scoring opportunity with some nice skating with the puck, opening up space for Nic Hauge at the top of the right circle. Hauge sent a bullet past Hogs goalie Anton Forsberg to give the Wolves a 1-0 lead at the 10:40 mark.

Nathan Noel was held behind the Chicago net by Jake Bischoff soon after, sending the Hogs to the power play. Rockford won the subsequent faceoff, kept the puck in the offensive zone for over a minute and scored on a one-timer by Jacob Nilsson. The rookie center had misfired on a centering pass from Jordan Schroeder, who then regained possession and found Nilsson again for a successful attempt at 12:58 of the period.

Alexandre Fortin got his first two goals of the season for Rockford in the opening minutes of the second period. After Lucas Carlsson made a heads up play to keep a clearing attempt in the Wolves zone, he passed to William Pelletier, who found Fortin open skating toward the right dot. Fortin’s shot banked off of Chicago’s Zach Whitecloud and past Wolves goalie Maxim Lagace 36 seconds into the period.

Minutes later, Fortin skated into the slot and sent an offering to the Chicago net. The rebound rattled around the front of the net before Noel and Graham Knott knocked it toward the left post. Fortin, who was crashing the net after shooting, was on hand to guide the puck into the open net for a 3-1 Rockford advantage.

Chicago would rally with a pair of goals to tie the contest. Curtis McKenzie got open in the slot and fired past Forsberg at the 9:11 mark. Five minutes later, Daniel Carr jumped on a rebound of a Whitecloud blast to knot the game at three.

The score remained tied until the late stages of regulation. Lucas Carlsson took a feed from Nilsson, used a couple of nifty moves to get open in the slot and fired low past Lagace’s glove side with 3:31 to play. The Wolves pulled Lagace soon after.

Graham Knott had a prime chance to ice the game with the puck on his stick and an empty net in front of him. However, Chicago’s Dylan Coughlin closed the gap on Knott and forced an off-target attempt. The Wolves came down and got the equalizer from Gage Quinney with 1:26 left.

Gus Macker Time saw the Wolves with early momentum. Forsberg turned aside several attempts over the first four minutes. Late in the extra session, Louis brought the puck into the Chicago zone on a two-on-one rush. Louis hit Darren Raddysh with a pass at the right circle; the defenseman’s one-timer caught cord with 39 seconds remaining to finish off the Wolves.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Alexandre Fortin-Tyler Sikura (A)-William Pelletier

Nick Moutrey-Graham Knott-Nathan Noel

Anthony Louis-Jacob Nilsson-Jordan Schroeder (A)

Terry Broadhurst-Henrik Samuelsson

Lucas Carlsson-Jan Rutta

Joni Tuulola-Dennis Gilbert

Blake Hillman-Darren Raddysh

Andrew Campbell (A)

Anton Forsberg

Power Play (1-2)



Penalty Kill (Chicago was 0-2)





This Week

The IceHogs will spend Boxing Day in DesMoines, taking on the Wild Wednesday night. On Friday, Rockford begins a home-and-home weekend against the Wolves at the BMO Harris Bank Center. The action moves to Rosemont on Saturday night.

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


Everything Else

The Rockford IceHogs get to take it easy this weekend…sort of.

The Blackhawks AHL affiliate have just one game on the schedule. Of course, that game is in Rosemont with the Central Division-leading Chicago Wolves, who just happen to be the league’s highest scoring team.

The Hogs visit the Allstate Arena Friday night for another in a steady stream of Illinois Lottery Cup meetings with the Wolves. The two teams have split the first four meetings; after Friday, Rockford will clash twice more with the Wolves before the end of the calendar year.

The IceHogs have won both games in enemy territory: the Wolves have taken both contests at the BMO by wide margins. Coming into this game, Chicago is riding a six-game winning streak.

AHL scoring leader Brandon Pirri (17 G, 24 A) was recalled to Vegas this week, so he won’t be around to torment the IceHogs. Rookie defenseman Erik Brannstrom (4 G, 16 A) is also with the Golden Knights.

Rest assured, Chicago has plenty of other scoring options. Tops on that list is Daniel Carr (14 G, 19 A) , who has been on a tear since being sent back to the Wolves. Carr is currently on a three-game goal streak as well as a six-game point streak. He has 11 points (5 G, 6 A) in six games since returning to the Chicago lineup.

Rockford is still last in the league in terms of offense. They have raised that average to 2.33 goals per game (compared to 3.98 goals for the Wolves), but have failed to break the three-goal barrier in regulation play in 17 of their last 20 games.

Coach Derek King can take solace in the fact that his team has been making the most of its meager output. Rockford is 6-2-1-1 in its last ten games. The Hogs (.567 points percentage) are currently in a tie for fifth place in the division with Grand Rapids.


Pelletier Returns

Rockford has won three of its last four games, including a comeback victory at the BMO Harris Bank Center against Milwaukee. A welcome sight came that night in the form of William Pelletier, who made his season debut Wednesday. The speedy forward was a key contributor throughout last season. Off-season surgery kept him out of action for the first 29 games of the 2018-19 campaign.

Pelletier chipped in with 14 goals and 15 assists last season. His wheels were utilized on the penalty kill as well as at the offensive end, where the Hogs could employ him to chase down dump-ins and avoid icing calls. For a player on an AHL contract, Pelletier had the full confidence of then-coach Jeremy Colliton. He was a mainstay in the Rockford lineup.

Pelletier made an immediate impact in his first game back with the piglets, getting a secondary assist on Tyler Sikura’s goal against Milwaukee. His presence is going to be felt throughout the roster.


Campbell Represents

It was announced Thursday that defenseman Andrew Campbell has been named a captain of the AHL’s Western Conference All-Star team. The captaincy of both the Eastern and Western Conference teams is awarded by the league in recognition of outstanding leadership and service.

Campbell is not an offensive stalwart. In 24 games with the IceHogs this season, his only mark on the score sheet has been a goal against Manitoba October 28. Campbell has brought some stability to what is a young Rockford defense. With the Hogs penalty kill (85.4 percent kill rate) at sixth in the league and the defense giving up 2.80 goals per game (tied for fifth in the AHL), the 11-year veteran has to be cited as a steadying force on the back end.


Odds And Ends

Viktor Ejdsell sat out Wednesday’s game with a groin issue. He may be ready to play Friday at Chicago, but King wasn’t certain of Ejdsell’s status following the win over the Admirals.

The IceHogs are the least penalized team in the AHL. Rockford skaters spend an average of 10.67 minutes in the penalty box. Defenseman Dennis Gilbert is third in the league in fighting majors after getting into his fourth scrap of the season Wednesday. He and former Hogs defenseman Sam Jardine are among several players four major penalties.

Rockford has gone into overtime in 11 of its first 30 games. Only Milwaukee (14) and Iowa (13) have done so more often. The IceHogs are 0-4 in games decided by a shootout, having gone 1-10 in shootout attempts.


Big Weeknight Win

Wednesday, December 19-Rockford 4, Milwaukee 3 (OT)

In one of the more impressive rallies of the season, Rockford dug itself a three-goal hole. The Hogs then climbed out of said hole to post the victory.

The Ads quickly went out to a two-goal advantage. Anthony Richard scored on the power play 1:51 into the game, then doubled that lead on the subsequent faceoff when Jeremy Gregoire sent a shot over the glove of Hogs goalie Anton Forsberg.

Down 2-0 just 2:05 into the first period, things got worse. Milwaukee potted a second power play tally when Tyler Gaudet jumped on a loose puck in front of Forsberg’s net at 13:26.

Late in the first period, Rockford got on the board after Anthony Louis was twice denied by Admirals goalie Troy Grosenick. Jacob Nilsson backhanded the second rebound into the cage at the 19:24 mark. The Hogs skated into the locker room down 3-1.

Rockford was able to cut the lead to 3-2 with a strong second period. Tyler Sikura brought the puck into the offensive zone and sent a pass to William Pelletier, who was making his season debut. Pelletier made a sharp cross-ice pass to Dennis Gilbert at the top of the left circle.

Gilbert’s shot got knocked down in front of the Admirals net, where Sikura completed the scoring play. Throwing the biscuit into the basket at the 9:18 mark, Sikura snapped a seven-game goal drought and got the IceHogs back into the contest.

Rockford made it all the way back 4:20 into the third period after Sikura grabbed a loose puck in the Milwaukee zone and found Joni Tuulola in the high slot. Tuulola sent a pass to Darren Raddysh at the right point. Raddysh’s shot glanced off of the stick of Richard and over the blocker of Tom McCullom, who had relieved Grosenick in the second period, to knot the game at three.

The Hogs capped an incredible effort in Gus Macker Time to claim the third point. Alexandre Fortin picked off a pass attempt along the half boards in his own zone and turned on the jets. With Louis and Jan Rutta in tow, Rockford worked the 3-on-1 rush to perfection.

Fortin and Louis traded passes before Fortin hit Rutta at the left post. The one-timer zipped behind McCullom to bring the evening to a satisfying climax 1:51 into the extra session.

Rutta and Sikura, each with a goal and assist on the night, were the game’s first and second stars, respectively. Pelletier nabbed third star honors. Forsberg made 27 saves, keeping Milwaukee in check until the Hogs could climb back into contention.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Alexandre Fortin-Tyler Sikura-William Pelletier

Anthony Louis-Jacob Nilsson-Jordan Schroeder

Terry Broadhurst (A)-Graham Knott-Nick Moutrey

Matheson Iacopelli-Nathan Noel-Henrik Samuelsson

Lucas Carlsson-Jan Rutta

Dennis Gilbert-Andrew Campbell (A)

Joni Tuulola-Darren Raddysh

Anton Forsberg

Power Play (0-2)



Penalty Kill (Milwaukee was 2-4)





Follow me @JonFromi on twitter for frequent commenting on the doings of the IceHogs throughout the season.






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.