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 split a weekend set at the BMO Harris Bank Center, besting Grand Rapids in overtime Friday night before a lackluster performance the next evening against the Chicago Wolves.

The scuffling piglets (11-10-1-4) are still looking for some offensive spark and sit in sixth place in the AHL’s Central Division standings with a .519 points percentage. With plenty of home games left this month, Rockford will attempt to improve upon its 5-5-0-2 mark when playing host.

 

Roster Moves

On Friday night, the Hogs announced that they were releasing Justin Auger from his PTO. Auger played nine games with Rockford, contributing a pair of goals to the cause.

 

A Look At Development

With the Blackhawks so thin in terms of depth this season, I got to thinking about Rockford’s role in the current downturn in the organization. In order to maintain long-term success, you have to replace a certain amount of a winning roster. The IceHogs have sent scores of players on to the next level. Looking at little closer at the pipeline, however, it becomes apparent that few quality replacement parts have been developed in Rockford.

Here are the players from the Blackhawks current roster who have seen time at the BMO with the IceHogs. The bold type names are the players I believe to have been true products of Chicago’s minor league system.

Forwards: Alexandre Fortin, John Hayden, David Kampf, Marcus Kruger, Andreas Martinsen, Brandon Saad.

Saad and Kruger only were in Rockford because of the NHL work stoppage in 2012-13. Martinsen came to the organization with a couple of seasons of NHL experience. Kampf and Fortin are free-agent signings; Kampf was in Rockford for just 33 games and Fortin was unproductive and missed time last year to injury in his rookie season with the IceHogs.

Defensemen: Eric Gustafsson, Gustav Forsling.

Gustafsson cut his teeth in Rockford, with 120 Rockford appearances over three seasons. Forsling isn’t a finished product by any means. He may never be. Either way, he has just 48 games with the Hogs.

Goalie: Corey Crawford.

As I’ve mentioned quite a bit in the past, Crawford spent five seasons in the minors. Three of those seasons were in Rockford.

You can pick through the above list and come to your own conclusions.

So…how has the gang in Rockford done in developing Stan Bowman’s draft picks?

Well, let’s look at the last Dale Tallon draft in 2009 and Bowman’s subsequent picks spanning the last nine years. Which players were developed in the minor league system and became long-term productive players? The 64,000-dollar question, of course-which players developed in Rockford have made big-time contributions for the Blackhawks?

The answer may not agree with your stomach, so sit down.

Here’s the rundown, starting with Tallon’s 2009 draft picks that have appeared in the NHL:

 

2009-Dylan Olsen, Brandon Pirri, Byron Froese, Marcus Kruger

Olsen, the Hawks first-rounder that season, has to be labeled a bust. After a brief stint in Chicago, Olsen spent some time in Florida with limited success. He’s currently playing in England.

Pompous Madcap (Froese) didn’t get much of a look in Rockford after being taken in the fourth round, but did reach the NHL in the Leafs organization.

Brandon Pirri played 238 games with the IceHogs before being traded out of the organization. Chicago’s second-round pick in 2009 has 228 NHL games under his belt but has spent most of the last two seasons with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves. He is currently leading the AHL in scoring and dropped a hat trick on the IceHogs Saturday night.

Marcus Kruger came over from Sweden after being drafted in the fifth round. His 34 games in Rockford came in 2013, when the NHL was on strike. I don’t consider him to be a product of the minor-league system.

None of Chicago’s other four picks reached the NHL.

Hogs Developed: Pirri, a capable offensive forward but a one-dimensional player in NHL terms.

 

2010-Kevin Hayes, Justin Holl, Kent Simpson, Stephen Johns, Joakim Nordstrom

Simpson, one of Chicago’s second-round picks, played 20 minutes of NHL hockey. Nuff said. The other second-rounder, Johns, played 59 games with Rockford over parts of two seasons. He may or may not realize his potential at defense. However, that won’t be happening for the Hawks.

Nordstrom, a third round pick, has several seasons of NHL experience and is currently with the Bruins. He appeared in 92 games with the IceHogs over three seasons.

Kevin Hayes, Bowman’s first-round selection, is a solid NHL player. However, he never spent a day in the Hawks organization.

Justin Holl, a defenseman the Hawks quickly gave up on after drafting him in the second round, has been a solid AHL player with the Toronto Marlies. Last season, he appeared in two games with the Maple Leafs.

None of the other six Bowman selections made the NHL.

Hogs Developed: Nordstrom, a bottom-six player who briefly played for the Hawks. To a lesser extent, Johns, who is also in another organization.

 

2011-Mark McNeill, Phillip Danault, Adam Clendening, Brandon Saad, Michael Paliotta, Klas Dahlbeck, Andrew Shaw, Alex Broadhurst

Saad and Shaw are the big names in terms of players contributing to the success of the Blackhawks. Saad’s 31 games in Rockford came only because of the NHL strike. Shaw also played in Rockford before the NHL got their business settled with the players in that 2012-13 season. He had 38 games with the Hogs in his rookie season before his meteoric rise to the NHL.

McNeill was in Rockford for several seasons. Aside from a couple of NHL starts, Bowman’s top pick hasn’t made it out of the minors. Danault, the other first-round selection, spent 160 games in Rockford and has developed into a decent player…for the Canadiens.

Clendening is a very good AHL defenseman who hasn’t been able to secure steady work in the NHL. He has 223 games in two stints with the Hogs. Dahlbeck was in Rockford for three seasons and played 170 NHL contests, though just four for the Hawks. He is currently in the KHL.

Alex Broadhurst played 104 games for the IceHogs and did reach the NHL for a cup of coffee with the Blue Jackets. He has spent most of his career in Cleveland of the AHL. Paliotta played one game for Chicago after the third-round pick was signed. He’s bounced around the AHL but never played in Rockford.

None of the other three Bowman selections have made the NHL. Maxim Shulanov and Sam Jardine were briefly with the IceHogs.

Hogs Developed: Shaw, because the IceHogs were his proving ground for the Blackhawks. Danault, a solid NHL contributor. Dahlbeck and Clendening as fringe defensemen.

 

2012-Teuvo Teravainen, Vinnie Hinostroza

Both Teravainen and Hinostroza, Bowman’s first and sixth-round picks, are smallish, speedy playmakers who will were traded out of the organization to entice other clubs to take on unwanted contracts. Sorry I had to bring this up.

Teravainen had just 44 games in Rockford, mostly during the 2014-15 season before being recalled by the Hawks. Hinostroza appeared in 104 games with the IceHogs over four different seasons.

None of the other six Bowman picks have reached the NHL. Matt Tomkins, a seventh-round pick, is on an AHL contract with Rockford and has been in Indy for most of this season and last.

Hogs Developed: Hinostroza, who will apply the lessons learned in Arizona for now.

 

2013-Ryan Hartman, Carl Dahlstrom, John Hayden, Tyler Motte, Luke Johnson

Two seasons and change in an IceHogs sweater for Hartman, who figures to be a productive player for a few years. Motte, Bowman’s fourth-round pick, played 48 games in Rockford and is now playing in Vancouver with 108 NHL games under his belt.

At this point, I would say that the jury is out on Dahlstrom and Johnson as well as Anthony Louis, who has yet to appear in a Chicago sweater. All three remain in the organization. I would categorize this trio as still being works in progress. Hayden has 24 games in Rockford, but I can’t say there was a lot of development going on in his case.

Hogs Developed: Hartman, Motte. Again, neither is contributing to the Blackhawks fortunes.

There is no use going through the past five drafts, as only Nick Schmaltz (remember back when he was on the Hawks?), Alex DiBrincat and Henri Jokiharju have NHL time at this point. Schmaltz was in Rockford for a short spell, but the Hogs can’t claim to have developed these players.

Blake Hillman, a sixth-rounder from 2016, burned a year of his entry deal in Chicago last spring and is currently in Rockford. Time will tell how these more recent draft picks will develop.

Ready for the roll call of Bowman’s picks who have made lasting impressions after being polished by the IceHogs? Here it comes…

Andrew Shaw. And…

…nope, that’s pretty much it.

There are more first and second-round picks that Rockford hasn’t be able to make into productive players. Shaw was a fifth-round selection that started on an AHL contract and just kept proving people wrong (put me near the top of that list) about his NHL prospects.

If you want to make yourself feel a little better about the development process, you can widen the scope and put Hartman in that club. He did play in Chicago for 141 games.

Otherwise, Bowman’s draft trove is comprised of players who never worked out, weren’t polished in Rockford, developed and were moved out of the organization, or are on the currently roster with a not-quite-ready-for prime time status.

Would Danault, Johns, Teravainen, Hinostroza and Hartman be an upgrade on the current bottom six of the Blackhawks. Probably. Cap issues required that Bowman let these horses out of the barn. No use crying about it, at least too much.

While the IceHogs certainly have moved players to the NHL level in their time as the Hawks AHL affiliate, that talent has not made a lasting impact for the organization. Chicago’s depth has not been replaced from within. For the Blackhawks to get the arrow moving in the right direction, this is where things need to change.

 

Oh…And Here Are This Week’s Recaps

Friday, December 7-Rockford 3, Grand Rapids 2 (OT) 

Dylan Sikura put the Hogs on his back in the final 25 minutes of action, posting a two-goal effort. Those goals brought Rockford back from a goal down to beat Grand Rapids.

After a scoreless first period, the Hogs and Griffins traded goals in the opening minutes of the middle frame. The IceHogs were attempting to clear the defensive zone; Joni Tuulola got the puck up the half boards to Nick Moutrey, who lobbed it up and over the neutral zone.

Nathan Noel chased down the puck and avoided a check attempt by Libor Sulak of the Griffins. Noel’s backhand got the best of Grand Rapids goalie Harri Sateri for a 1-0 Rockford lead at the 2:54 mark of the second period.

Givani Smith evened the score 51 seconds later, beating Hogs starter Anton Forsberg to the upper right corner of the net. The score remained knotted at one at the second intermission.

A turnover behind the Hogs net resulted in Matt Puempel setting up Derek Hulak in the slot. The shot five-holed Forsberg as he tried to cut off the attempt and Grand Rapids led 2-1 4:18 into the third period.

It took until the latter stages of the final frame, but Rockford came up with the equalizer on the power play. Dylan Sikura took an entry pass from Jordan Schroeder, flew past the defense and sent a shot between Sateri’s pads at the 17:02 mark.

Rockford ended regulation on a man advantage, which carried over to Gus Macker Time. For 57 seconds, the Hogs took several whacks at Sateri but couldn’t convert. Forsberg and Sateri both bailed out their respective clubs with great saves. The Hogs prevailed when Sikura got the back of his stick on Tuulola’s shot with 37 seconds remaining in extra time.

Forsberg stopped 41 shots to pick up his first win at the BMO this season. Sikura, Forsberg and Noel were the three stars of the game.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Anthony Louis-Luke Johnson (A)-Jacob Nilsson

Jordan Schroeder-Tyler Sikura-Dylan Sikura

Henrik Samuelsson-Viktor Ejdsell-Terry Broadhurst (A)

Nick Moutrey-Graham Knott-Nathan Noel

Blake Hillman-Carl Dahlstrom (A)

Andrew Campbell-Lucas Carlsson

Joni Tuulola-Darren Raddysh

Anton Forsberg

 

Saturday, December 9-Chicago 4, Rockford 0

Rockford haplessly watched former IceHogs forward and AHL scoring leader Brandon Pirri post a hat trick in this Illinois Lottery Cup matchup. Three Wolves goals subdued the impotent piglets in the opening frame and the Hogs win streak ended at two games.

Collin Delia was saddled with the loss in his return from a leg injury. Delia stopped 35 shots on the night but was no match for Pirri, who beat Rockford in transition as well as on the power play.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Nick Moutrey-Graham Knott-Nathan Noel

Anthony Louis-Luke Johnson (A)-Jacob Nilsson

Jordan Schroeder-Tyler Sikura-Dylan Sikura

Henrik Samuelsson-Viktor Ejdsell-Terry Broadhurst (A)

Joni Tuulola-Darren Raddysh

Blake Hillman-Carl Dahlstrom (A)

Andrew Campbell-Lucas Carlsson

Collin Delia

 

This Week

The Hogs travel to Grand Rapids Friday before returning to Rockford to complete a three-game in three days weekend. Texas comes a calling Saturday; the Griffins come to the BMO Sunday afternoon.

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

 

Everything Else

Rockford IceHogs defenseman Dennis Gilbert has adding a physical element to a team that is more focused on skating than brawling. The former Notre Damer paid a price for that style of play last weekend.

The AHL suspended Gilbert for three games after taking a hard look at a hit he delivered in Sunday’s 3-2 win over San Antonio. Early in that game, Gilbert put a shoulder into the chest of Rampage forward Mackenzie MacEachern. The hit separated MacEachern from the puck as well as his senses.

Before MacEachern could be helped from the ice, Klim Kostin went over and quickly dropped the gloves with Gilbert. Kostin earned an instigator penalty and a ten-minute misconduct in addition to the five-minute fighting major. At the time, all Gilbert was penalized was the five-minutes for fighting. On Tuesday, the league opted for supplemental discipline.

Upon taking a long, slow look at the play, it becomes apparent that Gilbert was just a few inches high on the hit. Contact was made with MacEachern’s head, unintentional as it may have been.

This isn’t the first time that a call that was deemed legal in the course of a game drew the ire of the AHL. The on-ice officials made what they felt was the right call from the perspective of a live-action hit. A few inches lower and Gilbert delivers a legal hit.

Gilbert remained in the contest and assisted on Graham Knott’s game-tying goal in the third period. It was Gilbert’s first point since an assist in his season debut October 13. He’s been paired quite a bit with veteran Andrew Campbell recently. Of Rockford’s seven fighting majors this season, Gilbert has three of them.

Hogs coach Derek King seemed to disagree with the ruling in his weekly media availability, though he stopped short of criticizing the suspension. King said that he had advised Gilbert to continue playing in a physical manner.

In his first weeks as Rockford’s head coach, King has pushed the physical narrative decidedly harder than Jeremy Colliton. The IceHogs are far from being a punishing team in this regard, but it’s interesting to see how this plays out as the season progresses.

 

Roster Moves

Gilbert’s absence prompted the Hogs to recall D Josh McArdle from the Indy Fuel Tuesday. The Rockton, Illinois native was in the lineup at the BMO November 7 against Iowa, thought that was Rockford’s morning school-day game. He should get a big reception from the home fans if he gets into a game this weekend.

The next day, goalie Kevin Lankinen was assigned to the Fuel, signaling that Collin Delia was ready to return to action after missing the last three games. Lankinen played well in this most recent stint with Rockford, picking up his first win of the season Sunday afternoon.

 

This Weekend

Rockford is attempting to win consecutive games for the first time since November 9 and 10. To do so, they will have to shut down a streaking opponent.

Grand Rapids, the hottest team in the Western Conference, comes to Rockford Friday night. The Griffins have won seven of their last eight, with the lone loss coming in a shootout against Milwaukee back on November 23.

Veteran Chris Terry leads the Grand Rapids offense with 15 goals and nine helpers in 23 games. Matt Puempel has chipped in with ten goals.  Veteran centers Turner Elson (8 G, 13 A) and Carter Camper (5 G, 15 A) have also been steady contributors.

Rockford will probably be looking at Patrik Rybar (6-2-2, 2.27, .910) in net for the Griffins. Rybar held the Hogs to a single goal November 14 in Grand Rapids, stopping 29 shots on the way to a 3-1 victory.

Saturday night is another Illinois Lottery Cup tilt with the Chicago Wolves. Chicago has struggled of late, but rallied from a three-goal deficit to beat Iowa in overtime on Wednesday night.

Former IceHogs forward Brandon Pirri has picked up his scoring pace, with six goals and eight assists in his last ten games. He currently leads the AHL in scoring with 30 points (10 G, 20 A).

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

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.

Recaps

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)

Louis-Schroeder-Ejdsell-Samuelsson-Raddysh

Nilsson-Noel-Sikura-Sikura-Dahlstrom

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

Knott-Noel-Dahlstrom-Gilbert

T. Sikura-Nilsson-Campbell-Hillman

Fejes-Moutrey-Raddysh-Tuulola

 

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

Louis-Schroeder-Ejdsell-Samuelsson-Raddysh

Penalty Kill (Admirals were 0-6)

Knott-Noel-Dahlstrom-Gilbert

T. Sikura-Nilsson-Campbell-Carlsson

Auger-Moutrey-Raddysh-Tuulola

 

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)

Louis-Ejdsell-Schroeder-Samuelsson-Raddysh

Nilsson-Sikura-Sikura-Johnson-Dahlstrom

Penalty Kill (Wolves were 0-4)

Knott-Noel-Dahlstrom-Gilbert

T. Sikura-Nilsson-Campbell-Carlsson

Johnson-Moutrey-Raddysh-Tuulola

 

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

 

Everything Else

The Rockford IceHogs hit the weekend in search of points. Points on the scoreboard and points in the AHL standings.

Entering a big three-games in three days stretch, the IceHogs are staring at two of the better teams in the Central Division. Rockford did post wins over the Chicago Wolves and Milwaukee Admirals two weeks ago. The problem is that they haven’t won since.

The IceHogs are in sixth place in the Central Division standings with a .526 points percentage. Texas (.533) and Grand Rapids (.531) sit right above Rockford.

It’s not hard to pinpoint a reason for the Hogs four-game losing streak. There’s a power outage on the offensive end. The last four games of Rockford’s road trip yielded just five goals. The only multi-goal game in that span did get them a point Tuesday in San Antonio, though the IceHogs lost that game in a shootout.

Right now, goal-tending is not a problem for the piglets. Anton Forsberg, who looks set to return from an illness, and Collin Delia have been excellent. Delia, in particular, has felt the pinch of the goal shortage. In his last seven starts, the Cucamonga Kid has posted a 2.22 goals against average and a .941 save percentage. His record in those starts is 1-3-0-3.

The Hogs are currently 30th out of 31 AHL teams in scoring with just 2.47 goals per contest. The team below them, San Antonio, just beat Rockford twice to close out the road trip. The IceHogs are also 30th in the league in shots at 26.79 per game.

Why the drought? Simple. Matthew Highmore (24 goals last season) is out for possibly the season following shoulder surgery. Tyler Sikura (23 goals last season) has been out of the lineup the last five games.

Rockford was missing a veteran scorer in Jordan Schroeder for nine games until he returned this past weekend. Terry Broadhurst, another veteran, has been out the last six games.

Having your top scorers out is going to put a dent in the offensive output. Rockford is a team of prospects. The organization, as is usually the case, did not go out and stock the roster with AHL scorers this summer. When four big point-producers miss time, it’s hard to replace them on the score sheet.

Dylan Sikura (6 G, 8 A) and Darren Raddysh (4 G, 8 A), along with Anthony Louis (7 G, 4 A) pace the Hogs in scoring. However, Rockford does not have a player in the top twenty of the league in goals or the top forty in scoring.

It seems unlikely that the Blackhawks are going to obtain veteran scoring help in the immediate future. Rockford is going to have to get healthy, then get after it in the offensive zone to turn its fortunes.

 

Weekday Action

Thursday, the IceHogs assigned two players to the Indy Fuel of the ECHL. One was forward Brett Welychka, who had been in Rockford since October 29. Welychka played eight games but hadn’t recorded a point.

Also going to Indianapolis is goalie Kevin Lankinen. The rookie from Finland had a nice game in net for the IceHogs Saturday night in San Antonio despite being hung with the loss.

These moves suggest that goalie Anton Forsberg and second-year forward Tyler Sikura may be ready to rejoin the lineup. Sikura would be a particularly welcome addition in light of Rockford’s offensive woes.

 

Recap

Tuesday, November 20-San Antonio 3, Rockford 2 (SO)

Collin Delia recorded 36 saves to give the Hogs a chance to break the losing streak. However, an early two-goal lead went for naught and the Rampage prevailed on penalty shots.

It didn’t take long for the IceHogs to build that two-goal advantage. Dylan Sikura took a pass from Graham Knott into the Rampage zone, maneuvered his way into some open ice and fired past San Antonio goalie Jordan Binnington at 3:06 for a 1-0 Rockford lead. Later in the fourth minute, Anthony Louis took a cross-ice pass from Jordan Schroeder and sent an offering over Binnington’s shoulder and into the cage. 3:54 into the game, the Hogs led 2-0.

With Andrew Campbell in the penalty box for tripping, San Antonio cut into the lead with a power play goal. Jakub Jerabeck sent a shot toward goal that glanced off of the stick of defenseman Lucas Carlsson and found its way past Hogs goalie Collin Delia. The goal came at the 18:10 mark; the teams skated to the locker room with Rockford leading 2-1.

A turnover by Carl Dahlstrom set up the Rampage with a 2-on-1 rush in the Hogs zone. San Antonio tied the game when Jordan Kyrou passed to Charlie Sampair at the left post. Delia never had a chance and it was 2-2 8:52 into the middle frame.

Both Binnington and Delia stood tall in the third period as well as in overtime. The shootout started badly for Rockford as Austin Poganski and Kyrou scored on their attempts. Louis converted in the second round for the Hogs after Viktor Ejdsell was denied. Delia stopped Joey LeLeggia, but Binnington did the same to Sikura to close out the contest.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Anthony Louis-Viktor Ejdsell-Jordan Schroeder

Dylan Sikura-Graham Knott-Justin Auger

Matheson Iacopelli-Jacob Nilsson-Henrik Samuelsson

Brett Welychka-Nathan Noel-Nick Moutrey

Blake Hillman-Lucas Carlsson

Joni Tuulola-Darren Raddysh

Andrew Campbell-Carl Dahlstrom

Collin Delia

Power Play (1-2)

Louis-Samuelsson-Schroeder-Ejdsell-Raddysh

Nilsson-Sikura-Auger-Carlsson-Dahlstrom

Penalty Kill (Rampage was 1-2)

Knott-Noel-Carlsson-Dahlstrom

Nilsson-Moutrey-Tuulola-Hillman

 

This Weekend

The IceHogs touch down briefly at the BMO after a six-game road trip with a game with Chicago Friday. The Wolves are tied with Milwaukee for second place in the division.

Chicago will be missing Daniel Carr (9 G, 13 A), who was recalled to Las Vegas Thursday. Thomas Hyka (15 G, 33 A last season) comes down to join the Wolves. Brandon Pirri (7 G, 13 A) has been hot of late for Chicago, with a four-game point streak. He has three goals in his last two games.

Rockford visits Milwaukee Saturday night before going to Chicago Sunday afternoon. The Admirals got Rocco Grimaldi (4 G, 7 A) back this week after a month in Nashville. Milwaukee is led by defenseman Matt Donovan, who has eight goals and eight apples so far this season.

Follow me @JonFromi on twitter for updates between periods tonight at the BMO and thoughts on the IceHogs all season long.

 

Everything Else

While us fans are still going to bask in the glow of Monday’s victory and Thursday’s parade (or in my case, Wednesday’s and Thursday’s Kyle Schwarber performance), this week is when the Hawks front office has to start to pivot toward next year, and namely to the point clearing out cap space to get Saad, Kruger, and whoever else they might like into the fold so we can attempt to do this all again in a year’s time.

Watching this unfold, I have to say I’ve been impressed with the local media’s reserved, optimistic tone about what the Hawks can do next year while the national — both here and north of the 49th — have been forecasting doom and gloom and it’s 2011 all over again! As it’s our job to piss on national and local narratives alike, let me poke some holes in this latter view, if you don’t mind.