Everything Else

The Rockford IceHogs, the Blackhawks AHL affiliate, used an offensive explosion to sweep Grand Rapids this weekend. The ‘Bago County Piglets have been filling the net, with and without Vinnie Hinostroza.

The IceHogs currently sit behind Manitoba in the division standings with a 15-9-1 record. Rockford has won its last four games heading into this week’s action. If the season would happen to end today, the Hogs are a playoff team. Not that the season shows any signs of stopping, but winning is definitely better than the alternative.

 

Berube Injured

Much of the credit for Rockford’s lofty position in the Central Division standings has to be directed at the goal tending.It’s been a two-man effort in goal so far this year, with J.F. Berube and Jeff Glass both providing solid play. Of late, Glass has been the man for Rockford with Berube up in Chicago before being reassigned this past Friday.

Glass had backstopped the IceHogs last four games before Berube took the BMO Harris Bank Center ice for his first action since coming back down to Rockford. He made it though half the game before some unfortunate luck.

With the Hogs on a second-period power play, Rockford’s Carl Dahlstrom and the Griffins Colin Campbell were chasing down a loose puck that was headed the way of Berube. The IceHogs goalie had just knocked the puck into the corner when the two players passed.

As they came by, Dahlstrom’s left leg swept Berube’s right leg out from under him. Berube’s left leg then buckled beneath him. The Rockford net-minder was attended to by the medical staff and was taken to the locker room. All the while, no weight was put on the injured left leg.

If Berube is to miss any significant time, the pair in Rockford will be what is has been since December 1; Glass and Colin Delia, who has not played in his most recent stint with the team. Its unfortunate that Berube may have gone down with a leg injury. However, the veteran Glass has shown that he is more than capable of shouldering the load in net.

Rockford does have three games this week. None are back-to-back, though. Glass could easily get all three starts for the Hogs. Delia has not played since November 25 with the ECHL’s Indy Fuel. Possibly he gets a start down in Texas to get him some action.

Glass’s numbers have inflated to a 2.89 GAA and a .907 save percentage, but that includes the eight goals Glass gave up November 28 to Manitoba (who have been running roughshod through everyone recently). His last three starts, all IceHogs wins, have been excellent. Excluding that blip when the Moose ran loose at the BMO, Glass is 8-0-1 with a 2.17 GAA and a .929 save percentage in his last nine starts.

The piglets tend to leave their goalies some messes to deal with while pushing the tempo the way they do. Berube and Glass have done a fine job keeping the bulk of Rockford’s mistakes out of its net. Glass may have to go it alone until Berube returns, whenever that may be. Based on his play the last few months, he’s up to the task.

By the way…Matt Tomkins, who is on an AHL deal with Rockford, might be worth keeping an eye on. Tomkins was playing well when he was injured early in his second start for Indy back on October 25. He returned this past weekend and stopped 88 of 91 shots in two starts (both wins) for the Fuel.

 

Roster Moves

The big news out here in Rockford, of course, was Vinnie Hinostroza’s recall to the Blackhawks on Friday. Tanner Kero, having passed safely through waivers, was assigned to the IceHogs on the same day. Kero got his first action with Rockford this season on Saturday, picking up an assist on the Hogs power play goal in a 7-2 victory.

On Sunday, Rockford recalled AHL defenseman Brandon Anselmini, who has a goal and five assists in 11 games with the Indy Fuel of the ECHL. This is only my speculation, but it would appear that another Hogs defeseman is banged up. It could possibly be Luc Snuggerud, who sat out Saturday’s game.

 

Picking Up The Scoring Slack

Hinostroza’s departure leaves a potential void in the Rockford offense. This weekend was a chance for the Hogs to respond to concerns for replacing Hinostroza’s scoring punch. They did so with 11 goals in the two games with Grand Rapids.

Of course, Kero is likely to pick up some of the workload for Rockford. He has shown a goal-scoring knack in both his previous seasons with the Hogs. He had an apple in his first game back with Rockford Saturday.

Tomas Jurco (9 G, 9 A) had two goals and an assist this weekend and is currently riding a four-game goal streak. Jurco’s 85 shots on goal lead the club; he definitely has the puck skills to carry Rockford for a stretch.

Hinostroza is an excellent distributor of the puck and that will be sorely missed. The player I see filling that role is David Kampf. The rookie from the Czech Republic broke an eight-game scoreless streak in a big way this weekend, with a helper Friday and a goal and two assists Saturday.

Even through the eight-game drought, Kampf has been active both with and without the puck. He is centering Anthony Louis and Jurco at the moment. This would be an opportune stretch for him to start impacting the game on the scoreboard.

Also posting a three-point weekend was Matheson Iacopelli, whose strong shot is starting to see some time on the IceHogs power play. Louis, who has earned time in the top six, has a three game point streak going.

Andreas Martinsen had goals in each of the weekend wins and has three in his last four games. Martinsen has four goals and five assists on the season; as I’ve mentioned before in my posts, he is one of a few IceHogs skaters who can bring the physical element on a nightly basis.

Martinsen forced a turnover in the corner Saturday that resulted in an IceHogs goal. The big Norwegian has been getting to the net and showed some skill in a key goal against Grand Rapids Friday night.

Stepping up on the defensive side is Carl Dahlstrom, who has eight points in his last four games. Dahlstrom was especially effective Saturday, pinching in for his first goal since Halloween and adding a pair of assists.

 

Where’s TooToo?

Veteran forward Jordin Tootoo was assigned to Rockford back on November 30. He hasn’t appeared in a game for Rockford. The way things sound, it doesn’t look that that will happen for a while.

After Saturday’s game, Chris Block of thethirdmanin.com asked IceHogs coach Jeremy Colliton about Tootoo. Here was the coach’s response, per the team website:

Right now, he hasn’t played in a long time. He hasn’t skated in a long time. (We’re) trying to get him back up to speed. We’ll see…I don’t know. We don’t have a timeline.

 

Pushing A Broom: Four Points From The Griffins

Friday, December 8-Rockford 4, Grand Rapids 1

The IceHogs won their third straight game and remained undefeated against Grand Rapids this season thanks to timely scoring and great play in net by Jeff Glass.

The Griffins went up 1-0 at the 12:45 mark on a power play goal by Matt Puempel. Rockford evened the game just over three minutes later.

Carl Dahlstrom got the scoring play started from his own end, sending a pass to David Kampf along the left boards on the Grand Rapids side of the red line. Kampf hit Tomas Jurco coming into the Griffins zone. Splitting the defense, Jurco skated to the top of the left circle and fired to the short side. The puck beat Grand Rapids goalie Jared Coreau at 15:38 for the equalizer.

Rockford picked up its second goal of the contest near the end of the middle frame. It came via the nimble stick of Andreas Martinsen, who picked up a loose puck along the left half boards and skated into the Grand Rapids zone.

Flipping the biscuit past Griffins defenseman Robbie Russo, Martinsen regained possession, skated to the bottom of the left circle and sent a shot high over Coreau’s right shoulder and into cage at 17:20. The IceHogs went into the second intermission up 2-1.

Jeff Glass proved to be the difference for Rockford, making 33 stops on the night, including a spectacular denial of a 2-on-1 Griffins rush late in the second. His play in the third period kept a desperate Grand Rapids squad at bay until some insurance could be had.

That insurance came from Robin Norell, who took a feed from Anthony Louis at the top of the left circle and slapped one toward the Griffins net. The shot glanced off the stick of Colin Campbell and got by Coreau for a 3-1 Hogs advantage with just 1:39 left in the game. Luke Johnson added an empty netter in the final minute to complete the scoring.

Glass was rightfully tabbed the game’s first star, followed by Martinsen and Puempel.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Anthony Louis-David Kampf-Tomas Jurco

Alexandrea Fortin-Matthew Highmore-Luke Johnson

Matheson Iacopelli-Tyler Sikura-Andreas Martinsen (A)

Graham Knott-Laurent Dauphin-William Pelletier

Carl Dahlstrom-Viktor Svedberg

Luc Snuggerud-Ville Pokka

Darren Raddysh-Robin Norell

Jeff Glass

Scratches-Tanner Kero, Robin Press, Erik Gustafsson, Jordin Tootoo

Power Play (0-1)

Highmore-Louis-Johnson-Raddysh-Pokka

Kampf-Jurco-Fortin-Iacopelli-Snuggerud

Pentalty Kill (Griffins were 1-4)

Knott-Dauphin-Svedberg-Dahlstrom

Sikura-Martinsen-Smuggerud-Pokka

Highmore-Johnson-Raddysh-Norell

 

Saturday, December 9-Rockford 7, Grand Rapids 2

The Hogs returned to the BMO and delivered a whipping to Grand Rapids, winning for the fourth straight game.

Rockford struck first at 6:41 of the opening frame. Carl Dahlstrom took a cross-ice pass from Matheson Iacopelli and skated to the bottom of the left circle. His centering pass caught the skate of Andreas Martinsen and banked into the Griffins net.

The IceHogs took full control of the contest in the second period with a pair of goals. The first occurred shortly after Rockford had shut down a Grand Rapids four-on-three power play. Laurent Dauphin received a pass from Ville Pokka as he entered the Griffins zone.

Tomas Jurco skated into the slot to take Dauphin’s offering to the crease. Deking goalie Tom McCollom, Jurco backhanded the puck into happy land at the 6:01 mark for a 2-0 Rockford lead.

About four minutes later, Viktor Svedberg hit Graham Knott with an entry pass. Knott skated into the high slot before finding Darren Raddysh with all kinds of room coming down the right side of the slot. A quick pass afforded Raddysh the scoring chance and he buried it at 9:58 to put the Hogs up 3-0.

Midway through the period, J.F. Berube got tangled up with Dahlstrom and the Griffins Colin Campbell and went down favoring his left knee. The medical staff was brought out and the injured goalie was helped from the ice. Jeff Glass took over for the remainder of the game.

Rockford was able to double its three-goal advantage in the first 3:18 of the final period. Matthew Highmore carried David Kampf’s feed to the bottom of the left circle and burned McCollom 1:19 into the third. Dahlstrom banged home a power play slapper from the point at 2:03.

Shortly thereafter, Martinsen forced a turnover in the corner of the Grand Rapids zone. Tyler Sikura gained control of the puck and centered to Matheson Iacopelli in front of the cage. The shot was high to McCollom’s stick side; he never had a chance.

Up 6-0, Rockford surrendered a pair of Griffins goals before closing out the scoring via a David Kampf backhander from the slot. The primary assist on the play came from the stick of Anthony Louis.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Matthew Highmore-Tanner Kero-Luke Johnson (A)

Anthony Louis-David Kampf-Tomas Jurco

Matheson Iacopelli-Tyler Sikura-Andreas Martinsen

Graham Knott-Laurent Dauphin (A)-William Pelletier

Robin Norell-Ville Pokka (A)

Viktor Svedberg-Darren Raddysh

Carl Dahlstrom-Robin Press

Jean Francois Berube

Jeff Glass

Scratches-Luc Snuggerud, Erik Gustafsson, Jordin Tootoo, Alexandre Fortin

Power Play (1-5)

Iacopelli-Kampf-Jurco-Kero-Dahlstrom

Louis-Highmore-Johnson-Raddysh-Pokka

Penalty Kill (Grand Rapids was 0-6)

Dauphin-Highmore-Dahlstrom-Norell

Knott-Johnson-Svedberg-Pokka

Sikura-Martinsen-Press-Raddysh

 

What Lies Ahead-A Look At The San Antonio Rampage

Rockford hosts Chicago Tuesday night. The IceHogs hold a 2-1 advantage in the season series; both those wins came at the BMO. The Wolves are coming off a Micheal Leighton shutout of Cleveland Saturday night but still are in the Central Division basement with a 7-12-4-1 mark.

Following that game, the IceHogs travel to the Lone Star State for a pair of games with the San Antonio Rampage. Rockford has Friday and Sunday dates with Colorado’s AHL affiliate.

San Antonio spanked the piglets 6-0 at the BMO November 10. The Rampage drew cord on their first three power play opportunities and wound up with four tallies with the man advantage.

A parade to the Rockford penalty box was a big part of that loss. On the other hand, goalie Spencer Martin stopped 39 shots to blank the Hogs. Ville Husso faced the Hogs three times last season when he was with the Wolves. Husso won two of those matchups, but is currently up with St. Louis, who has been loaning him to the Rampage.

Another pair of former Wolves lead the Rampage (13-10-2, fourth in the AHL’s Pacific Division) in scoring. Forward Andrew Agozzino is a familiar face to Hogs fans, having played in Lake Erie as well as Chicago. In his second stint with San Antonio, Agozzino has 19 points (7 G, 12 A). He is currently on a nine-game goal drought. Defenseman Jordan Schmaltz, another former Wolves skater, also has 19 points (5 G, 14 A) and is a plus-ten on the campaign.

Rocco Grimaldi is smallish forward who can really light it up; he had 31 goals for the Rampage a year ago. He started slow this fall but recorded a hat trick this weekend against Bakersfield. Rookie center Tage Thompson has seven goals and seven assists for San Antonio, but just one assist in his last five games.

Another offensive force is former Milwaukee Admiral Vladislav Kamenev, who had three apples in the Rampage win over Rockford November 10. He hasn’t been in the San Antonio lineup since mid-November, however. He was recalled by the Avs and injured in his first game with Colorado.

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

 

 

 

 

 

Everything Else

The Rockford IceHogs, AHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks, welcomed a couple of new arrivals to the roster last week. How have these new faces fared so far in the Forest City?

So far, the jury is out; neither has taken the ice since the roster moves were made.

On Thursday, after he cleared waivers, veteran forward Jordin Tootoo was assigned to Rockford. The next day, the Blackhawks recalled Jean-Francois Berube to back up Anton Forsberg while Corey Crawford recovers from an injury. As a result, Hawks goalie prospect Colin Delia was brought up from the ECHL’s Indy Fuel to serve as backup to Jeff Glass.

Rockford had games Friday and Saturday following a blowout loss to Manitoba Tuesday. The IceHogs defeated the Chicago Wolves in overtime before soundly beating Texas to pick up four points on the weekend.

IceHogs coach Jeremy Colliton opted not to use either Tootoo or Delia (or recent addition Robin Press, for that matter) in either contest this weekend. There could be varying reasons for this.

Let’s put the microscope to both Tootoo and Delia and see how they could factor into the mix.

Jordin Tootoo

The Hawks re-signed Tootoo this summer but he hasn’t played since training camp. He has spent the bulk of the season on injured reserve.

From an AHL standpoint, Tootoo could add a dimension the Hogs have lacked. Namely, a veteran grinder who has been around the NHL and is capable with his hands once the gloves come off.

Among the questions I have are:

  1. How healthy is Tootoo?
  2. How motivated is he to come in and bang for Rockford?
  3. Who sits/goes to Indy in order to get him into the lineup?
  4. Does the organization want him mentoring the piglets or are they content to let Tootoo and his cap hit sit in the team box for a few months?

 

At some point, we should get more clarity as to what Tootoo’s role on the club will be. Best case, he skates frequently, brings some toughness to a very young roster, imparts a bit of wisdom about life in pro hockey and maybe knocks in a couple of goals.

 

Colin Delia

Delia has struggled so far in his first pro season. His lone start in the AHL was a shaky effort as the Hogs lost in Iowa November 9. His numbers with the Fuel don’t impress; a 4.12 GAA to go with a .887 save percentage.

His last action in net was for Indy on November 25. In that start, he gave up six goals to Kansas City. While it is a good opportunity for Delia to get some instruction from the goalie coaches in Rockford, I wonder if Colliton affords him another start.

Rockford has a week of practice and a weekend home-and-home coming up with Grand Rapids. It might not be a bad idea to have Delia watch Glass on the road Friday and get his home debut at the BMO the following evening.

Another start in the Rockford cage for Delia may depend on how long Crawford is out, coupled with how much confidence the organization has in his ability to handle AHL shooters.

 

Other Roster News

Press has not gotten into a game since being recalled by Rockford last Saturday. Neither has forward Radovan Bondra. As I mentioned last week, however, I believe that’s due to an injury Bondra is rehabbing with the IceHogs.

Center Laurent Dauphin did not appear in either game this past weekend. He appears to have been injured in the latter stages of the loss to Manitoba Tuesday night.

Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad-Recaps

Tuesday, November 28-Manitoba 8, Rockford 1

This one’s just as bad as it sounds. You can point to the fact that the IceHogs got 48 pucks to the net, but this was an old-fashioned keister stomp. The division’s hottest team came, saw and conquered the piglets, paced by a J.C. Lipon hat trick.

Rockford was down 5-0 late in the second when Viktor Svedberg got a puck to neutral ice that was won by Anthony Louis. The rookie forward made his way into Moose territory and punched home the only Hogs tally of the night past Michael Hutchinson at 17:22 of the second period.

Jeff Glass was left in the crease for the duration. On a night where Manitoba exploited nearly every Hogs miscue into a scoring chance, Glass was probably the only reason the Moose didn’t reach double-digits on the scoreboard. And with that, let’s just move along…

Lines (Starters in italics)

Alexandre Fortin-Matthew Highmore-Luke Johnson (A)

Vinnie Hinostroza-David Kampf-Tomas Jurco

Anthony Louis-Laurent Dauphin (A)-Andreas Martinsen

Graham Knott-Tyler Sikura-Matheson Iacopelli

Viktor Svedberg-Robin Norell

Luc Snuggerud-Ville Pokka (A)

Carl Dahlstrom-Darren Raddysh

Jeff Glass

Scratches-Robin Press, Erik Gustafsson, William Pelletier

Power Play (0-5)

Jurco-Kampf-Hinostroza-Martinsen-Raddysh

Louis-Johnson-Dauphin-Highmore-Pokka

Penalty Kill (Manitoba was 2-3)

Johnson-Kampf-Svedberg-Norell

Hinostroza-Dauphin-Snuggerud-Pokka

Martinsen-Sikura-Dahlstrom-Raddysh

 

Friday, December 1-Rockford 4, Chicago 3 (OT)

The IceHogs blew a 3-0 advantage only to prevail in Gus Macker Time thanks to Vinnie Hinostroza’s game-winner.

Tomas Jurco got his sixth goal of the season the hard way 12:32 into the contest. Jurco was providing the screen for a Ville Pokka shot attempt. While trying to avoid the wrist shot, Jurco was struck by the puck (I’ve watched this a dozen times and still don’t know if it hit his head, chest or stick.), which then beat Wolves goalie Michael Leighton to the cord.

About five minutes later, Pokka got one of his own. As he pinched down to the bottom of the left circle, Pokka got a rebound off the end boards of a Robin Norell attempt. He then knocked it past the back door of Leighton for a 2-0 Rockford lead 17:36 into the first period.

The Hogs fourth line stretched the advantage to 3-0 3:35 into the middle frame. Carl Dahlstrom got the play started from the Rockford zone. His pass to Andreas Martinsen was quickly sent to Tyler Sikura and Graham Knott coming across the Wolves blueline.

Knott fed Sikura in front of Leighton, who stopped the initial attempt. In the scrum that followed, Martinsen was able to get the puck across the goal line for his second goal of the campaign.

From there, Chicago chipped away at the three-goal advantage. Brandon Pirri got the Wolves on the board with a power play goal three minutes later. Late in the second, Brett Sterling picked the pocket of Hinostroza at the Wolves blueline. He then scored on the resulting breakaway to cut the lead to a single goal.

Noted Hogs-killer Teemu Pulkkinen tied the game at 15:18 of the third. Pirri set up Pulkkinen’s right dot blast after beating Darren Raddysh to a puck in the corner of the Hogs zone. It now appeared that Rockford’s closest and most bitter rival could swipe two points from the Hogs.

Hinostroza prevented a total collapse in overtime, thanks to some help from Dahlstrom. After passing to Hinostroza at the top of the left circle, Dahlstrom buzzed Leighton. This prevented the former Hogs goalie from getting a clean look at Hinostroza’s snap shot. Rubber and twine hooked up to Leighton’s stick side and all was right at the BMO, save for the point the Wolves received for tying the game in regulation.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Vinnie Hinostroza-David Kampf-Tomas Jurco

Alexandre Fortin-Matthew Highmore-Luke Johnson (A)

Anthony Louis-William Pelletier-Graham Kott

Matheson Iacopelli-Tyler Sikura-Andreas Martinsen (A)

Luc Snuggerud-Ville Pokka (A)

Carl Dahlstrom-Vikto Svedberg

Darren Raddysh-Robin Norell

Jeff Glass

Scratches-Robin Press, Erik Gustafsson, Laurent Dauphin

Power Play (0-3)

Jurco-Kampf-Hinostroza-Martinsen-Raddysh

Louis-Johnson-Iacopelli-Highmore-Pokka

Penalty Kill (Chicago was 1-3)

Johnson-Kampf-Svedberg-Norell

Hinostroza-Knott-Snuggerud-Pokka

Martinsen-Sikura-Dahlstrom-Raddysh

 

Saturday, December 2-Rockford 6, Texas 2

Rockford made a clean sweep of the weekend against the Stars, who had won five straight entering the contest.

Texas took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission on a Roope Hintz power play goal late in the opening twenty. Thousands of BMO fans stood by the ready to hurl stuffed animals onto the ice. It wasn’t to be in the first period, however.

The teddy bear tossers would have to wait nearly half the game to send their furry offerings to the ice surface. There dreams were realized when Anthony Louis broke Rockford’s 0-35 home power play slump with a snipe from the right dot. Vinnie Hinostroza provided the primary apple on the play, which tied things up at a goal apiece 8:01 into the second period.

At that point, the cover was blown off of Stars goalie Landon Bow’s net. Moments later, Matthew Highmore took a drop pass from Carl Dahlstrom at he bottom of the right circle. His shot fought it’s way through Bow’s pads and trickled across the goal line at the 9:55 mark.

The Rockford advantage increased to 3-1 late in the second when Louis created a turnover along the right side of the Texas zone. His pass was blasted past Bow from the slot by William Pelletier at the 18:06 mark.

Goal number four came 2:32 into the third, courtesy of some nimble skating by Hinostroza. In a play we’ve become accustomed to seeing, Hinostroza wove around the offensive zone before backhanding a pass to Darren Raddysh. Raddysh came across the goal mouth for a backhander that Bow stopped with his pads. Persistence paid off for the rookie defenseman; Raddysh simply collected the rebound and guided the puck to the back of the net.

Luc Snuggerud got in on the butt-kicking fun 11:38 into the third. The genesis of the scoring play came from behind the Stars net, where Highmore had sent the puck after winning a battle in the corner. Alexandre Fortin passed out to a wide-open Snuggerud in the high slot. The shot was true and Rockford led 5-1.

Former IceHogs forward Mark McNeill scored for Texas at the 14:00 minute mark, but that’s as close as the Stars could get. Tomas Jurco finished the scoring for the evening with a between-the-legs backhand past defensman Gavin Bayreuther and into an empty net in the closing minute.

Hinostroza (first), Louis (second) and Highmore (third) were the three stars of the game.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Vinnie Hinostroza-David Kampf-Tomas Jurco

Alexandre Fortin-Matthew Highmore-Luke Johnson (A)

Anthony Louis-William Pelletier-Graham Kott

Matheson Iacopelli-Tyler Sikura-Andreas Martinsen (A)

Luc Snuggerud-Ville Pokka (A)

Carl Dahlstrom-Vikto Svedberg

Darren Raddysh-Robin Norell

Jeff Glass

Scratches-Robin Press, Erik Gustafsson, Laurent Dauphin

Power Play (1-6)

Jurco-Kampf-Hinostroza-Martinsen-Raddysh

Louis-Johnson-Iacopelli-Highmore-Pokka

Penalty Kill (Stars were 1-4)

Johnson-Kampf-Svedberg-Norell

Hinostroza-Knott-Snuggerud-Pokka

Martinsen-Sikura-Dahlstrom-Raddysh

 

Grand Rapids Home-And-Home Primer

Rockford will have several days to prepare for a weekend home-and-home with the defending Calder Cup champs, the Grand Rapids Griffins. Friday’s game is in Michigan, while the teams come to the BMO Harris Bank Center Saturday night.

Detroit’s AHL affiliate has had a tepid start (9-10-0-3) to the season, but the Griffins have endured slow openings to dominate the Central Division in the past. The Griffins beat Chicago 5-2 Saturday night to break a five-game losing streak. Like Rockford, Grand Rapids has five days off before dropping the puck Friday night.

The IceHogs are currently 3-0 against Grand Rapids. Rockford owns a pair of 3-2 shootout victories on October 20 and November 18 to go with a 4-3 come-from-behind win at the BMO October 28.

Friday’s tilt will be the first of the season between the two teams at Van Andel Arena, where Grand Rapids has toiled to a 4-6-0-1 record. Last year, the Hogs were 1-4 in that building, for what its worth.

Matt Puempel came over from Hartford early in the season and is pacing the Griffins offense with 17 points in 21 games (7 G, 10 A). Eric Tangradi is a big, physical winger who can fill the net, so he presents problems for Rockford. Tangradi has three goals and an assist against the Hogs to date this season and could well be a factor in how Rockford fares this weekend.

Tyler Bertuzzi is a hard-nosed player who is currently on a three-game point streak. Matt Lorito and veteran center Ben Street are also players to watch.

On the defensive side, Westmont native Robbie Russo has had two successful seasons under his belt with Grand Rapids. He has a pair of goals and seven helpers so far in 2017-18. Dylan McIlrath is a rugged presence on the blueline for whom the Hogs don’t really have a counterpart.

Jared Coreau and Tom McCollom are both familiar faces in net for the Griffins. Its likely the IceHogs could see both goalies this weekend.

Follow me @JonFromi on twitter to catch IceHogs happenings all season long.

 

Everything Else

Not much going on today. Crawford isn’t as sick but won’t play tomorrow against the Penguins. Niklas Hjalmarsson won’t play the rest of the week, and that’s worth keeping an eye on, or at least his return is. A non-healthy Hammer when things start to matter would be worrisome indeed.

Other than that, the Hawks extended Jordin Tootoo and Michal Rozsival for a year, and some of this is for expansion draft purposes. In fact, it’s all about expansion draft purposes. The Hawks didn’t have what was required to expose in the draft in June, or at least not in a way that could prevent them from having to expose both Ryan Hartman and Marcus Kruger.

Everything Else

If only that were true.

Yesterday’s signing of Jordin Tootoo continues a trend which the Hawks themselves keeps having to disprove to themselves pretty much every single season. Before we delve further, let’s be clear that Tootoo is no guarantee to make the team, or to play regularly. However, there is the trend that Joel Quenneville has of trying to prove just how much smarter he is than everyone who has coached a player like this before. At least until the spring when he stops when someone locks in a room full of smelling salts and he comes to and actually starts playing a proper lineup (sometimes this doesn’t happen until May or June).

Let’s take a ride, shall we?