One of the more confounding things about the Hawks, and there’s plenty, is not only that we can’t get a sense of what the plan is (especially when they tell you they don’t have one), but it’s hard to separate their marketing and promotions department from their actual hockey operations. John McDonough will tell you he doesn’t get involved in hockey decisions, but we all know that’s probably horseshit. The two are definitely jumbled.

We’ve discussed somewhat regularly on the podcast that the Hawks pretty much operate in terror of their fanbase, feeling that any half misstep will cause a return to the dark old days instantly. And it’s understandable in a way, because it really wasn’t that long ago. It’s only 12 years in the rearview. And all the people in charge now were either part of the organization when they drew 4,000 a game or were taking over right then. It’s not exactly in the deep recesses of their or our memories. And no one wants to go back to that.

Still, there’s a desperation that seems palpable with the announcement of a “One More Shift” for Kris Versteeg today for Sunday. Look, we all love Kris Versteeg around here. In his first stint as a Hawk, he was incredible if infuriating fun. His second stint was brutal for the most part, but that’s before we knew reacquiring old members of the band was going to be the extent of their pro scouting. And the whole “One More Shift” thing probably isn’t worth spilling that much ink over, but I don’t have much else to do.

But Kris Versteeg hasn’t been gone all that long. He played preseason games this year. He was playing games for the Flames less than two years ago. He hasn’t been “out of the scene” for very long, if at all. And it was the same when they did this for Brian Campbell or Patrick Sharp or whoever else of recent vintage.

When they’ve used it for other players from the 80s or early 90s who haven’t gotten their due, that was pretty cool. It’s part of the history, and guys like Steve Larmer, Eddie Belfour, Al Secord, they haven’t really gotten their due from the organization in the past for as important as they were to those teams. They’re not good enough to have their numbers retired (though Larmer might be) but certainly meant enough to the organization for recognition. Same goes for Roenick, who got his own night in 2010 and another shift.

But when you’re doing this for players who have been retired for like five minutes, it feels like a desperate attention-grab, a frantic clinging on to what came before that’s now gone. And it’s not about Versteeg on Sunday night. It’s about how the whole team is run on both sides of the coin.

The Hawks still think they can only sell tickets if they convince everyone that it’s the same era as when everything was so fun and perfect. They have to convince you that this is all just an extension of 2010-2015, a temporary blip before they return to that. It’s all one thing. But you know it’s not. And I know it’s not. And somewhere in those office, they know it’s not. And they have to start acting like it.

Because it’s hard to argue they haven’t managed the actual team like it’s still that time. Don’t tell me that their handling of Brent Seabrook has at least a little to do with clinging on to the past. Fear of a backlash. And perhaps their absolute refusal to kick tires on the market for Keith or Kane is the same. Or maybe those two have no interest in going, and that’s fine. We don’t really know, but it’s felt like they’ve felt that getting back to the mountain top is only a reach for them instead of a hefty climb.

But that’s gone now. It’s in the past, even if five of the major faces are still here and even if they remain the most recognizable players on the team. Some of that is marketing, and some of that is the front office’s failure to bring anyone in to join them and eventually usurp them at the top of the card. Maybe DeBrincat will soon, and Dach and Boqvist are supposed to.

Either way, the whole team needs a reboot. Drop the slogan, change the goal song, vary up your presentation. We all know that day is over, and maybe it would be refreshing for both customer and business to start over. Everyone could use an attitude reset on this team. And maybe with a fresh coat of paint and a new outlook, the organization could actually see itself for what it is and run accordingly. You can’t get that far forwards if you’re always looking backwards.

If McDonough is so talented of a marketer, and if you don’t believe he is just ask him, he can probably pay someone to come up with another motto/tag line that he can take credit for. The Hawks need to move into a new era in both their branding and how they’re run. Maybe if you change the labels, you can change the whole thing under them too.


The list of the veteran presence on the Rockford IceHogs began and ended with captain Kris Versteeg. Following an announcement this weekend, cross that name off the list.

The 33-year-old Versteeg announced that he requested to be released from his AHL contract after the rigors of playing for the IceHogs proved too much for him. In statements and a press conference on the team website, Versteeg essentially hung it up in terms of his playing career.

The two-time Stanley Cup champion was injured October 18 against Chicago and missed three weeks before returning to action November 8. After two games back in the lineup, Versteeg sat out this weekend’s home-and-home with Grand Rapids before the announcement came Sunday.

In my season preview, I speculated on what kind of impact Versteeg could have with the IceHogs:

The ceiling on this move: a fit and motivated Versteeg plays 60-plus games, puts up some respectable offensive numbers, mentors the piglets on and off the ice and helps draw a few curious fans into the BMO this winter.

As it happens, he wasn’t fit following the injury. When Versteeg returned, he admitted that he didn’t believe he could stay in the lineup and take the pounding skaters receive in the AHL. I hoped for 60 games; turns out the Hogs got six, with a single assist on the score sheet.

There should be no ill feelings toward Versteeg whatsoever. Rockford took a flier on his health back in the spring; Versteeg’s body just couldn’t deliver. It happens.

The piglets must move on. Who fills the void in veteran leadership and mentoring in Rockford?

Well…it depends on what you call “veteran leadership,”.

The old man on the IceHogs is now D Philip Holm, who turns 28 next month. Holm, who had a goal in Friday’s loss to Grand Rapids, now leads the Hogs in scoring with 10 points (3 G, 7 A).

Four players (Tyler Sikura, Matthew Highmore, Collin Delia and Alexandre Fortin) are early into their third seasons in Rockford. Nick Moutrey has four AHL campaigns under his belt. Jacob Nilsson and Anton Wedin are solid citizens with experience overseas prior to coming to town. Each of these guys will have to step up for the Hogs.

This makes Rockford an even younger and less experienced squad. Unlike division rivals Chicago, Milwaukee and Grand Rapids, who are anchored by veteran talent, the IceHogs are going to sink or swim with their collection of prospects.



Those prospects split the weekend with the Griffins, losing in Grand Rapids before taking the rematch at the BMO Harris Bank Center. The 8-7 IceHogs are seventh in the Central Division standings with 16 points. However, their .533 points percentage is third-best in the division.

Friday, November 15-Grand Rapids 5, Rockford 2

The Hogs dropped the first half of the weekend’s home-and-home. Rockford never led as the Griffins got four pucks by Hogs starting goalie Collin Delia.

Grand Rapids took a 2-0 advantage in the opening half of the first period. Jarid Lukosevicius collected a faceoff win in the Hogs zone and beat Collin Delia’s stick side from the high slot 6:33 into the game. A couple of minutes later, Matt Puempel beat Adam Boqvist to the left post and tapped in a cross-ice pass from Dominic Turgeon at the 8:32 mark.

The IceHogs pushed back late in the period. Phillip Kurashev took a pass from Nicolas Beaudin and came down the middle looking to get a shot off. The attempt was stopped by the stick of Grand Rapids defenseman Oliwer Kaski but came back to the rookie. Kurashev slid the puck to Matthew Highmore, who guided the pass safely behind Griffins goalie Calvin Pickard at 17:30 of the first.

Rockford appeared to tie the contest with 53 seconds left in the period after Anton Wedin redirected a Tyler Sikura shot on goal. However, it was ruled that Wedin’s stick was a bit high and the power play tally was waved off.

The Griffins extended the lead to 3-1 7:40 into the middle frame. Delia had a real good look at a Chase Pearson shot from the right dot. The offering got under Delia’s blocker and caught cord.

As in the first period, the Hogs response came late. With two Griffins in the box, Rockford found the net on a one-timer by Philip Holm, set up by Jacob Nilsson and Tyler Sikura. The goal came at the 17:29 mark; the piglets skated into the locker room down 3-2.

Midway through the third period, Chris Terry capped off some nice puck movement by the Griffins power play, firing into a wide open net after Puempel and Filip Zadina got Delia moving across the crease. Grand Rapids went up 4-2 on Terry’s ninth goal of the season. Pearson added an empty-net goal in the final minutes.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Nick Moutrey-MacKenzie Entwistle-Reese Johnson

Anton Wedin-Jacob Nilsson-Tim Soderlund

Alexandre Fortin-Tyler Sikura (A)-Dylan Sikura

Matthew Highmore (A)-Phillipp Kurashev-Brandon Hagel

Adam Boqvist-Dennis Gilbert

Philip Holm-Ian McCoshen

Nicolas Beaudin-Joni Tuulola

Collin Delia

Matt Tomkins

Power Play (1-7)

Wedin-T. Sikura-D. Sikura-Nilsson-Holm


Penalty Kill (Griffins were 1-3)




Saturday, November 16-Rockford 5, Grand Rapids 2

Kevin Lankinen was the hero for the Hogs in the rematch, stopping 42 shots while Rockford made the most of their scoring chances. Five different Hogs potted goals in the victory.

When the smoke cleared at the first period buzzer, Grand Rapids had out shot the Hogs 17-4. Strangely enough, Rockford skated into the locker room with a 2-0 advantage.

Nick Moutrey got the IceHogs on the board 13:29 into the game with a shorthanded goal, swiping a pass and sniping high past Griffins goalie Filip Larsson. Just over a minute later, Phillipp Kurashev sent an off-angle shot past the Grand Rapids rookie.

Alexandre Fortin delivered a pass to MacKenzie Entwistle in front of the Griffins net; the rookie made it a 3-0 game 14:30 into the second period. Grand Rapids got on the board with an Evgeny Svechnikov goal, but Rockford still led 3-1 after 40 minutes.

Brandon Hagel was the recipient of a cross-ice feed from Jacob Nilsson that left Hagel with plenty of room to slide in Rockford’s fourth goal of the night. After Svechnikov got the Griffins back to within two, Fortin was sprung on a breakaway chance by Lucas Carlsson. Fortin converted at 16:00 of the final period to shut the door on Grand Rapids.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Anton Wedin-Jacob Nilsson (A)-Brandon Hagel

Nick Moutrey-Tyler Sikura-John Quenneville

Matthew Highmore-Phillipp Kurashev-Dylan Sikura

Alexandre Fortin-Reese Johnson-MacKenzie Entwistle

Chad Krys-Ian McCoshen

Philip Holm-Lucas Carlsson

Nicolas Beaudin-Denis Gilbert (A)

Kevin Lankinen

Collin Delia

Rockford did not have a power play opportunity.

Penalty Kill (Grand Rapids was 0-4, the Hogs scored shorthanded once.)




Messing With Texas

The Hogs will be spending next weekend, and then some, in the Lone Star State. Rockford visits the Texas Stars on Saturday night, then travel to San Antonio, where they will play on Sunday and Tuesday.

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




The Rockford IceHogs, AHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks. had themselves a rough stretch in Cleveland. After winning their first two games of the season last weekend, Rockford went into Ohio and got knocked around by the Monsters.

The IceHogs took back-to-back lickings, falling 7-1 Friday night before being shut out 5-0 the following afternoon. Rockford fell to 2-5 in 2019-20. With four standings points and a .286 points percentage, the Hogs sit in seventh place in the Central Division heading into a five-game home stand that gets underway Wednesday night.

Rockford’s lone goal came in the first period Friday night, as Tyler Sikura drew even with Dylan Sikura for the team lead with his third goal of the season. From there, it was all Monsters. Up 1-0, the IceHogs gave up 12 unanswered goals the remainder of the weekend’s action.

Cleveland was able to maneuver around the Hogs defense for point-blank attempts in both contests. The Monsters fired 43 shots at Matt Tomkins Saturday. Neither Tomkins or Collin Delia could do enough to stop the deluge of scoring opportunities.

So far this year, the piglets have been flat out bad in all areas of the game. Through this weekend, Rockford is giving up 3.71 goals per contest, ranking them 25th in the AHL. Offensively, the Hogs are in a familiar place-namely, the nether regions of the league.

Only winless San Diego (1.67) score less frequently than Rockford, who average 1.71 goals per game. The power play has been on the ice 28 times and has yet to score. The penalty kill unit has surrendered eight goals in 28 chances. That 71.4 percent is second-worst in the AHL.

To summarize, the Hogs can’t score, allow tons of juicy scoring chances and are stinking up the joint on special teams. A recent spanking at the hands of an experienced Monsters team makes it easy to take a negative point of view. However, Rockford is running pretty low on sunshine and rainbows at the moment.



  • Kris Versteeg and John Quenneville both sat out the weekend with injuries. Kevin Lankinen practiced last week but did not make the trip to Cleveland. Rookie Mikael Hakkarainen also remained out.
  • With Versteeg missing his second and third straight games, Nick Moutrey was the closest thing to veteran presence in the Hogs lineup. The leadership group is comprised of second and third-year players. This contrasted mightily with Cleveland, who got production from Nathan Gerbe and Zac Dalpe. Both have been key veterans for the Monsters.
  • Perhaps Versteeg will be able to get back into action this week. Regardless, he’s not going to be able to carry the offensive load all by himself.
  • Reese Johnson was the first Hogs skater to engage in fisticuffs this season, dropping the gloves in a brief bout with Cleveland’s Justin Scott early in the second period Friday with Rockford down 4-1.
  • There was a extended fracas at the end of that game and some very chippy play Saturday afternoon. The Monsters pulled the piglets into a style Rockford is not set up to play. It showed up on the scoreboard, big time.
  • This has been the case for the two previous seasons, but this young Rockford club is even less equipped to handle bigger, more physical foes. If the Hogs continue to try and play to the strengths of their opponents, it’s not going to end well most nights.
  • The talented rookies that have flooded the current roster have combined for zero goals in the first seven games. This includes the three games Adam Dach took part in while on his conditioning assignment. D Chad Krys and C Phillipp Kurashev each have two assists to pace the Hogs rookies in scoring.
  • Adam Boqvist and Nicolas Beaudin, two of the organization’s highly-touted defensemen, are both looking for their first point as professionals. Boqvist played both games in Cleveland after missing the previous two games. Beaudin sat out of Friday’s affair but had three shots on goal on Saturday.
  • I seem to be painting a rather dour picture of the piglets first month of action. Rockford is just seven games into a long season; I’ll put away my crayons for now.



Friday, October 25-Cleveland 7, Rockford 1

The Monsters put an end to Rockford’s two-game win streak in emphatic fashion, despite the Hogs taking an early advantage.

Rockford opened the scoring midway through the opening period. Tyler Sikura gathered in a rebound from brother Dylan’s off angle shot. The Monsters goalie, Matiss Kivelniecks, stopped Sikura’s initial attempt, but Sikura’s second effort hit paydirt at 9:52 of the first.

The lead was short-lived. Cleveland erupted for four unanswered goals in the remainder of the first period. An Anton Karlsson shot slipped past Hogs goalie Collin Delia at 10:04. Ryan MacInnis took advantage of Delia being out of his crease to give the lead to the Monsters just at the 13:01 mark.

Just 44 seconds later, Nathan Gerbe sent a centering pass off of Hogs defenseman Lucas Carlsson for a 3-1 Cleveland advantage. Paul Bittner sent a shot from the high slot past Delia in the nineteenth minute.

Cleveland added a goal at 14:05 of the second period when MacInnis fed Calvin Thurkauf at the left post for the lamp-lighter. A minute later, Sam Vigneault was credited with the tally when a Kole Sherwood pass glanced off of the shin pads of Carlsson and past Delia.

Zac Dalpe put in a power play goal midway through a chippy third period for the final margin of victory.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Nick Moutrey-Reese Johnson-Dylan McLaughlin

Matthew Highmore (A)-Tyler Sikura (A)-Dylan Sikura

Anton Wedin-Jacob Nilsson-Brandon Hagel

Alexandre Fortin-Phillipp Kurahsev-MacKenzie Entwistle

Ian McCoshen-Adam Boqvist

Philip Holm-Joni Tuulola

Chad Krys-Lucas Carlsson

Collin Delia

Power Play (0-4)

Wedin-Hagel-Nilsson-Boqvist-Philip Holm

T. Sikura-D. Sikura-Kurashev-Highmore-Carlsson

Penalty Kill (Monsters were 1-2)

Forwards-Wedin, Nilsson, Highmore, T. Sikura, Entwistle, Johnson

Defense-Tuulola, Holm, Krys, Carlsson


Saturday, October 26-Cleveland 5, Rockford 0

It was all Monsters in the second game of the weekend; rookie goalie Veini Vehvilainen posted a shutout, stopping 29 Rockford shots.

All the offense Cleveland needed came in the first period. Ryan Collins threaded a shot to Matt Tomkins glove side that reached the top shelf of the goal 8:43 into the game. Ryan MacInnis took advantage of a turnover in the Hogs zone and made it 2-0 at the 16:27 mark.

Rockford gave up two goals in the first two minutes of the second period. That’s pretty much all she wrote for the IceHogs. Monsters captain Nathan Gerbe added a power play goal 7:50 into the period for the final margin of victory.

The Hogs had three chances to take the goose egg off the scoreboard vie the man advantage. Each time, they came up empty.

Tomkins made 38 saves on the afternoon in the losing effort.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Anton Wedin-Jacob Nilsson-Brandon Hagel

Nick Moutrey-Reese Johnson-MacKenzie Entwistle

Matthew Highmore (A)-Tyler Sikura (A)-Dylan Sikura

Tim Soderlund-Phillipp Kurahsev-Alexandre Fortin

Philp Holm-Lucas Carlsson

Ian McCoshen-Adam Boqvist

Nicolas Beaudin-Joni Tuulola

Matt Tomkins


Rampaging Into Rockford

Coming to the BMO Harris Bank Center Wednesday night is the San Antonio Rampage. San Antonio is tied with Grand Rapids for second place in the Central with a 4-1-2-1 mark.

Seventh-year pro Nathan Walker came over from Hershey this summer. Walker leads the Rampage with seven goals (two of which have been game-winners) and five helpers. Another Eastern Conference veteran, D Derrick Pouliot, arrives from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and has seven points (1 G, 6 A).

San Antonio added a lot of veteran pieces after a last-place finish in the division a season ago. Forwards like Cam Darcy (0 G, 5 A) Nick Lappin (four goals) and  Zach Nastasiuk fortifies the Rampage with experienced skaters.

Ville Husso (4-1-1. 2.35 GAA, .919 save percentage) has been very good in net for San Antonio the the early going. Like Cleveland, this is a team with AHL experience. The Rampage will be a tough opponent for the piglets as they try to snap their losing streak.

I’ll be back on Friday to preview Rockford’s weekend action with Iowa and Chicago. Until then, follow me @JonFromi on twitter to catch my thoughts on IceHogs hockey throughout the season.


The Rockford IceHogs head into the weekend looking to build on a two-game winning streak. Rockford is in Cleveland, where the piglets will play a pair with the Monsters.

The Blackhawks made some roster moves this week; here’s a quick look at the activity.

Wednesday, the Blackhawks recalled Dennis Gilbert and assigned newly acquired defenseman Ian McCoshen to Rockford.

McCoshen comes to the Hogs from Florida, who dealt him to Chicago in exchange for forward Aleksi Saarela. Saarela, who had 30 goals for Charlotte last season and is now with his fourth organization in four seasons, picked up his first point of the season with an assist in Saturday’s 3-2 win over Chicago.

The trade accomplishes two things on the AHL level. First, it lessens the bottleneck currently keeping several young forward prospects out of the lineup on a nightly basis. With Kris Versteeg and John Quenneville out for this weekend and Mikael Hakkarainen not back from his opening-night injury, there could be as few as 13 forwards for Derek King to choose from against Cleveland.

The swap also gives the IceHogs another solid defensive option in McCoshen, who has NHL experience. He has good size (6’3″, 218), skates pretty well and is should pair well with more offensive-minded players like Adam Boqvist and Chad Krys.

Kevin Lankinen, who has been out of the lineup following the season opener with an upper body injury, began practicing with the team this week. It’s possible that he’ll see action in Cleveland.


Cleveland Monsters

Cleveland is 3-3-1 to start the season. They are coming off of back-to-back losses to Toronto last weekend after a win in Rochester Friday night. The Monsters won three of the four games in last season’s series with Rockford. Cleveland is 11-3 at Quicken Loans Arena against the IceHogs over the last five seasons. They swept Rockford in Cleveland last October.

Veteran forward Nathan Gerbe (0 G, 6 A) will be a factor at both ends for the Monsters. Former Hogs defenseman Adam Clendening had 37 points for Cleveland in 45 games a season ago and has started 2019-20 with a goal and five helpers.

Zac Dalpe posted a career-high with 33 goals for the Monsters last season. In his eleventh AHL season, Dalpe has three goals and two assists in seven games. Dalpe had four goals against Rockford in 2018-19.

Long-time AHL agitator Stefan Matteau, most recently with the Wolves, has three goals so far this month. Fourth-year pro Justin Scott has five points (2 G, 3 A) for Cleveland.

Rockford will likely see both third-year goalie Matiss Kivlenieks (2.89 GAA, .895 save percentage) and rookie Veini Vehvilainen (3.04, .904) between the pipes.

I’ll be back on Monday to recap the Hogs dealings in Ohio. Follow me @JonFromi on twitter for updates and thoughts on the action this weekend and throughout the season.








The Rockford IceHogs, AHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks, got themselves into the win column in style over the weekend. The piglets picked up their first points of the 2019-20 campaign with a home-and-home sweep of the Chicago Wolves.

After besting their interstate rival 3-2 at the BMO Harris Bank Center Friday night, the IceHogs made the trip to Allstate Arena and posted a 3-2 overtime win. Rockford has a ways to go to get themselves into the upper half of the Central Division standings, but two wins over your closest neighbor has to feel pretty good.

The Hogs currently sit in seventh place in the division with a 2-3 record. Iowa has yet to be defeated in regulation and leads the Central with a eleven points in six games. San Antonio is second with eight standings points; Milwaukee and Texas each have seven.

Rockford’s 2.20 goals per game average is second-worst in the Western Conference. The IceHogs have also started the season 0-18 on the man advantage. Not surprisingly, that’s the nadir of the AHL through the first three weeks of action.

Despite the Hogs struggles on offense, the arrow is pointed up at the moment. Rockford got some great play in net from Collin Delia Friday and Matt Tomkins on Saturday. Tomkins, who is with the IceHogs while Kevin Lankinen recovers from an upper body injury, picked up his first career AHL victory with a 31-save performance.


Roster News

Following Friday’s game, Kirby Dach was recalled from his conditioning stint by the Blackhawks. Dach went pointless in three games with Rockford, but played pretty well. He was entrusted with a lot of minutes by Hogs coach Derek King.

Dach’s departure leaves 17 forwards on the current roster. That’s just way too many if King has to find steady minutes for everyone. For whatever reason, the Hawks loaded up on entry deals this spring and summer. There are only three AHL contracts among the forward corps. Two of them won’t be going anywhere soon.

Kris Versteeg wasn’t signed to play in Indy. The Hogs captain will be in Rockford all season. Versteeg left Friday’s win after the first period and did not play Saturday. King gave the impression that the injury was not serious; I’ll take him at his word until I don’t see Versteeg in the lineup in Cleveland this weekend.

Tyler Sikura is also a mainstay in King’s lineup, and rightly so. At 27 and on an AHL contract, Sikura the Elder is not a prospect. However, he is a huge part of this team at both ends of the ice.

Sikura plays a simple game, but he has shown a consistent ability to finish the scoring opportunities he creates. He had a two-goal night in Chicago Saturday, including the game-winner. Sikura not only scored the overtime goal, he created the scoring chance by forcing a turnover.

Sikura is an excellent penalty killer and also provides grit on the power play. On a squad with a microscopic veteran presence, Sikura stands out as a skater who can put points on the scoreboard.

Rockford has seven rookies in the forward bunch. The only players besides Versteeg who are even close to veteran status are Sikura, Nick Moutrey and 26-year-old Swede Anton Wedin, who has points in three of his four games.

Imagine the log jam there would be if Graham Knott and Nathan Noel, both on the final year of entry contracts, were in Rockford instead of Indy right now. Still, minutes are going to be hard-earned with so many forwards.

Mikael Hakkarainen is still dealing with an injury suffered opening night. John Quenneville took a big hit in the third period Saturday and could miss some time in addition to Versteeg. King is still trying to find chemistry in his line combinations. Expect to see several youngsters in and out of the lineup in the next month.

The defensive situation is nowhere near as crowded. King iced the same six skaters on the blueline in both games after Adam Boqvist took a puck in the mouth Friday morning at practice. Unless Jack Ramsey, who was sent back to Indy last week, is recalled, I’d expect Boqvist to be ready to roll in Cleveland.


Early Standouts

I have really been impressed by Philip Holm so far. He’s been a stabilizing force on the defense and has show a knack for getting into the action on offense. Holm has a pair of goals and an assist so far and is third on the club with 12 shots on goal.

Wedin, like Sikura, has been solid at both ends. Holm, Sikura and Wedin all have two goals and an assist through five games. Dylan Sikura leads the club with three goals and an apple. He’s also a plus-three with 16 shots on goal. Both are team highs.



Friday, October 18-Rockford 3, Chicago 2

The Hogs rode a dominant first period to their first victory of the season in an Illinois Lottery Cup matchup with the Wolves.

All three Rockford tallies were recorded in the opening frame. The IceHogs out shot Chicago 17-4 in that span. The first goal came 5:28 into the game, after Brandon Hagel just missed getting his stick on Phillipp Kurashev’s centering pass in front of Wolves goalie Garret Sparks.

Dylan Sikura got a hold of the loose puck and sent it around the end boards, where Hagel wound up with it. Skating to the right faceoff dot, Hagel centered to Sikura, who converted the offering into his third goal of the season and a 1-0 Rockford lead.

Alexandre Fortin was the catalyst for a shorthanded goal midway through the period, swiping the puck from Chicago’s Reid Duke and streaking to the Wolves net.

The shot attempt was stopped by the right pad of Sparks, but the Chicago skaters mishandled the long rebound and Fortin wound up with the puck on his stick at the right post. John Quenneville was behind the Wolves goalie, sliding in the short feed across the goal line at the 12:48 mark.

Late in the first, Jacob Nilsson hauled in a stretch pass from Chad Krys and powered his way to the Chicago net. Sparks stopped the attempt, but the loose puck slid into the right circle. Hagel did a nice job tying up the stick of Wolves wing Tyrell Goulbourne, allowing Anton Wedin to scoop up the loose biscuit. Wedin looped into the slot and beat Sparks to the far post with a wrist shot, making it 3-0 IceHogs heading into the first intermission.

Rockford was not as effective in the next forty minutes, particularly at the faceoff dot. The Wolves got a goal from Jaycob Megna in the second period and a power play strike by Gage Quinney late in the third. However, the Hogs managed to hang on to secure the victory.

Captain Kris Versteeg left the game following the first period and did not return to action.

Lines (Starters in italics)

John Quenneville-Tyler Sikura-Alexandre Fortin

Matthew Highmore-Kirby Dach-Dylan Sikura

Kris Versteeg (C)-Phillipp Kurashev-Aleksi Saarela

Anton Wedin-Jacob Nilsson (A)-Brandon Hagel

Dennis Gilbert (A)-Lucas Carlsson

Philip Holm-Nicolas Beaudin

Chad Krys-Joni Tuulola

Collin Delia

Power Play (0-5)


D. Sikura-Saarela-Kurashev-Hagel-Beaudin

Penalty Kill (Wolves were 1-6, Rockford posted a shorthanded goal.)

Forwards-Highmore, T. Sikura, Wedin, Nilsson, Quenneville, Fortin

Defense-Gilbert, Tuulola, Krys, Holm


Saturday, October 19-Rockford 3, Chicago 2 (OT)

Tyler Sikura and Matt Tomkins, two of Rockford’s AHL contracts were the big names at Allstate Arena Saturday. Sikura had two goals, including the game-winner, while Tomkins picked up the win with 31 stops on the night.

Rockford scored first via a Sikura goal 12:22 into the contest. The play was set up by Lucas Carlsson, who sent a clearing pass to Dylan Sikura in the neutral zone.

Tyler hauled in the bro-pass coming toward the left circle. Sikura the Elder let fly with an attempt that rebounded off the pads of Wolves goalie Garret Sparks. The rebound glanced off of Chicago defenseman Brayden Pachal and slid past Sparks for a 1-0 IceHogs advantage.

Less than three minutes later, Pachal found Lucas Elvenes knocking at the backdoor of the Rockford cage. Elvenes punched the puck home past Hogs goalie Matt Tomkins for his third of the season at 15:03.

The score remained tied until 4:50 into the third. Philip Holm got the play started in his own zone, setting up Reese Johnson with a clearing pass. Johnson hustled into Wolves territory before dropping a pass to Aleksi Saarela. Holm played the role of trailer to perfection, taking Saarela’s pass at the left circle and slinging it past Sparks to put Rockford up 2-1.

Late in the game, the Hogs found themselves down a man after Chad Krys sent a clearing attempt into the stands. Alexandre Fortin picked off a pass and found himself with a breakaway chance. Unfortunately, Fortin was unable to finish the opportunity.

Curtis McKenzie came back the other way and tied the game for the Wolves a few seconds later. McKenzie’s shot glanced off of Dennis Gilbert, who was prone on the ice to close off passing lanes, and slid though the wickets of Tomkins to even the score at two goals with 3:56 remaining. Regulation ended without a deciding goal.

It took most of Gus Macker Time, but the IceHogs prevailed with Tyler Sikura’s second goal of the evening. Sikura forced a Nicolas Roy turnover in the Rockford zone; Joni Tuulola gathered the loose puck and sprung Sikura for the breakaway. The Elder slammed the door on Chicago with a stick-side wrister past Sparks with 12 seconds left.

John Quenneville took a big hit in front of the Rockford bench in the third period. He went to the locker room favoring his left side and did not return.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Matthew Highmore (A)-Tyler Sikura (A)-Dylan Sikura

Anton Wedin-Jacob Nilsson-Brandon Hagel

John Quenneville-MacKenzie Entwistle-Alexantre Fortin

Nick Moutrey-Reese Johnson-Aleksi Saarela

Joni Tuulola-Dennis Gilbert

Chad Krys-Lucas Carlsson

Philip Holm-Nicolas Beaudin

Matt Tomkins

Power Play (0-3)


Highmore-Quenneville-D. Sikura-T. Sikura-Carlsson

Penalty Kill (Wolves were 1-3)

Forwards–Highmore, T. Sikura, Wedin, Nilsson, Quenneville, Fortin, Moutrey

Defense-Gilbert, Tuulola, Krys, Holm


Coming Up

Rockford will be on the road this upcoming weekend, traveling to Cleveland for two games with the Monsters. I’ll preview that match-up Friday.

Follow me @JonFromi on twitter for news and notes on the IceHogs all season long.






The Rockford IceHogs, Chicago’s affiliate in the American Hockey League, get their season underway Friday night in DesMoines. Rockford will face the Iowa Wild with fresh faces; the team released the opening-night roster Thursday. It’s time for a look at this bunch as the 2019-20 season begins.

Note: Rockford’s AHL contracts are italicized.


Vets-Nick Moutrey, Matthew Highmore (A), Kris Versteeg (C), Dylan Sikura, Tyler Sikura (A), Jacob Nilsson (A), Alexandre Fortin, Aleksi Saarela.

Rookies-Mikael Hakkarainen, Dylan McLaughlin, Brandon Hagel, Reese Johnson, Phillipp Kurashev Tim Soderlund, MacKenzie Entwistle, Anton Wedin.

It’s hard to think that the Hogs will carry 16 healthy forwards for too long. Hawks prospects Graham Knott and Nathan Noel are already with the Indy Fuel as room is made for new prospects. The three AHL deals in this group are Versteeg, Sikura the Elder and Moutrey.

There is no way that Versteeg, freshly anointed captain by coach Derek King, is going anywhere. Tyler Sikura is an alternate captain and figures to get heavy minutes. Maybe Moutrey finds himself with the Fuel. However, there’s a good chance a few of the younger guys spends a stretch in the ECHL in the first couple of months.

Key Players

Highmore, who is returning from a 2018-19 lost to injury, is going to be counted on to help pace the offense. Saarela has 30-goal talent at the AHL level and a hot start by the new guy would be great.

Versteeg really seems stoked to be playing hockey in Rockford. If he is a constant in the lineup, there’s no reason he can’t put up 20 goals. Both Sikuras have shown a knack for point-producing in their own ways at this level. Nilsson will be looking to follow up on a promising rookie campaign.

After league-worst offensive production last season, someone’s got to sneak some rubber by opposing goalies on a regular basis. The potential is there, but the new faces are going to have to find chemistry quickly and hope the players above can light the way early.



Vets-Philip Holm, Dennis Gilbert, Lucas Carlsson, Joni Tuulola.

Rookies-Chad Krys, Adam Boqvist, Nicolas Beaudin, Jack Ramsey.

This is a really young group without any real veteran presence. Carl Dahlstrom getting picked up on waivers by Winnipeg really hurts in this area, but if the high draft picks perform as advertised, that may not be a problem.

Key Players

Boqvist and Beadin are the latest of a series of highly-touted defensive prospects. Will this duo go the way of Ville Pokka and Gustav Forsling, or will they develop into solid members of Chicago’s blueline?

Gilbert stuck around a good while at Blackhawks training camp. He is still in Europe with Chicago and will apparently be called up to play in this afternoon’s game in Prague. The big defenseman looks like he’s ready to build on last season, where he came on slowly but steadily for the Hogs. Look to Gilbert and Holm to be the defensive stoppers for Rockford. Carlsson showed potential in his rookie season; can he be a power play factor for Rockford?

Krys impressed me in his short stint with the IceHogs this past spring. It will be interesting to see where he will fit into the picture.



Kevin Lankinen, Collin Delia, Matt Tomkins.

I’m speculating that Tomkins is on the roster until Delia returns from Europe. The Lankinen/Delia combo could be the best tandem in the league by season’s end.


Questions To Be Answered In 2019-20

Time to shift into full-on speculation mode. Here goes…

Who carries the scoring load?

Saarela, Highmore, Sikura the Younger, Boqvist and Krys.

Which rookies are going to impress early?

Kurashev, Boqvist…and Hagel.

Can Alexandre Fortin find an offensive game?

I really, really hope so.

How many games will Versteeg play?

He’ll play 60, with 16 goals and 16 assists. Anything above this is gravy. Heck, if he hits those numbers, its still gravy.

Can this team make the playoffs?

Well…first, the Hogs will need to find a way to get the best of the veteran-laden teams in their division like Chicago, Milwaukee and Grand Rapids. It really depends on how quickly a team with 12 rookies can get up to speed in the AHL.

Can the piglets make the postseason? Sure. Will they? That’s for them to know and all of us to find out.


Friday Night vs The Wild

Unlike Rockford, the Wild had a two-game preseason series with Manitoba to get into game shape. Iowa made it to the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs after finishing third in the Central Division last season.

Gerald Mayhew is coming off a 60-point season and is beginning his fourth full loop in Iowa. Dmitri Sokolov returns from a rookie season of 16 goals and 14 helpers.  Kyle Rau had 26 goals for Iowa in 2018-19.

Gabriel Dumont comes over from the Lightning organization. He had 43 points (15 G, 28 A) for Syracuse in 2018-19. Sam Anas is also a forward who can fill a net.

Among the familiar faces in Iowa is former Hogs center Luke Johnson, who signed with Minnesota this summer after posting career-highs in goals (18) and points (31) with Rockford in 2018-19. Mike Liambas, who was in Rockford back in 2015-16, brings his hard-hitting mentality to the Wild after joining Iowa last season.

Brennan Menell dished out 42 helpers from the blueline for the Wild last year and returns for his third season. Louis Belpedio (6 G, 15 A), Carson Souchy (5 G, 15 A) and Matt Bartkowski (4 G, 15 A) also return to the Iowa defense.

Kaapo Kahkonen flat-out owned the IceHogs last season, shutting Rockford out three times. It is likely that Kahkonen will man the pipes for Iowa to open the season Friday night.

If things break correctly for me, I’ll be taking in Friday’s opener at BMO South (my basement) and sending out a tweet or twelve during the game. Follow me @JonFromi on twitter to join in the discussion, along with thoughts on the Hogs throughout the season.


We used to do this every year, so we’ll get back to it. Your FFUD Hawks staff predicts what will happen in the upcoming season. 

Big One First – Predicted Points and standings for the Hawks

McClure: 92 Points, 2nd wild card in the west

Pullega: 88 points, 9th in Conference (just outside wild card)

Hess: 86 points, 9th or 10th in West

Rankin: 88 pts, 9th in conference

Feather: 102 points – 3rd in the Central

Fels: 88 points, 10th in West

How many games will each goalie play and how good will they be?

McClure: Crawford 46, .916   Lehner 35, 910

Pullega: Crow: 34. He’ll play very well (.920) but he’ll get hurt again. Robin: 44. He’ll play fine (.910) and probably get four years. Delia: Four because both bird boys will be hurt at the same time at some point. He’ll be meh (.900).

Hess:Crow: 20, will be good but not great (.912), and deal with minor injuries early. He gets traded at the deadline, sadly

Robin: 45. He’ll be slightly better than Crow (.918) and get’s extended
Delia plays 17 while Crow’s hurt  and then backs up after Crow is traded. Plays well enough (.906) for Hawks to keep him as the backup moving forward
Rankin: Crawford: 35, will be good but not great and will struggle with brown brain at one point

Lehner: 40, will be good but terrifying at times, .912
Delia: 7, backs up Lehner when Crow is out, mediocre
Feather: 47 and 35 but don’t make me say which will have more. I’m having nostalgic feelings to 2008-09 when Huet and Khabibulin were going every other start.
Fels: Crow 43 (.918), Lehner 30 (.910), Delia 9 (.908)
Will the power play be over 20% for the year?
McClure: Just under at 19.6%
Pullega: No. 17% tops. Gus is going to bask in his own farts from last year and crater any trade value he had.
Hess: I’m calling this a push, they’ll finish +/- 1% of 20%
Rankin: Just barely, 20.5
Feather: Yes (Hawk voice) Let’s say 23%
Fels: Nope, 18%
How many games will Boqvist play?
McClure: 26
Pullega: 9
Hess: 30
Rankin: 15ish
Feather: 33 – I’m foreseeing a late to mid-season call up when the Hawks can’t pretend he’s not their 1st or 2nd best defensemen anymore.
Fels: 37. Called up somewhere among the holidays when the Hawks realize they have no choice, but there will also be some inexplicable healthy scratches in there
How many games will Dach play?
McClure: 7
Pullega: 9
Hess: 9
Rankin: 9
Feather: in the NHL- Head too dingy
Fels: 70 – he sticks but has injury issues at times and there will also be some inexplicable healthy scratches in there
How many games will Versteeg play?
McClure: 15
Pullega: 15, 14 of them will matter
Hess: too many
Rankin: 12, and it will be ridiculous
Feather: Too many and not far enough away
Fels: I refuse to answer this and it’s my damn question
Strome’s point-total:
McClure: 69 (nice)
Pullega: 60
Hess: 27 goals, 81 points. Let’s fuckin go
Rankin: 60, solid but not astronomical
Feather: 23 goals and 56 assists
Fels: 21 goals, 55 points
Toews’s goal and point-total:
McClure: 31-40-71
Pullega: 28-47-75
Hess: 29 goals, 79 points
Rose: 30 and 75
Feather: 38 goals and 80 points
Fels: 30 goals, 62 points
Biggest surprise:
McClure: Calvin de Haan will actually prove to be a metrically solid defenseman
Pullega: Kubalik. 40 points, 25 goals (5 PP)
Hess: The Hawks trade Brandon Saad to Edmonton at the trade deadline
Rankin: Andrew Shaw is useless in the top 6 and takes absurd numbers of penalties. This will not come as a surprise to me but to his many fans, it will.
Feather: Alex Nylander – because reasons, buddy.
Fels: That Dach sticks as Hawks realize they only have about three seasons to work with.
Biggest disappointment:
McClure: Robin Lehner will not seize the position from Crawford, leaving the Hawks with two huge question marks in net at the end of the season
Pullega: I’d say Nylander, but that would imply expectations. Let’s go with Gus. 35 points.
Hess: That Pullega called Tampa “Ning.” Also that the Hawks have a lot of high scoring forwards and solid goaltending but still miss the playoffs because of the blue line being so bad
Rankin: Colliton’s adherence to a hybrid man-to-man system that doesn’t work with this lineup.
Feather: There are no disappointments in a 102 point campaign – only slight annoyances. I’ll go with Brent Seabrook and somehow still strong-arming his way on this roster when he may not be the 8th best d-men in the organ-I-zation.
Fels: Hawks trade Connor Murphy because everyone else is unwanted by every other team.
Western Champ:
McClure: Colorado
Pullega: Sharks
Hess: Colorado
Rankin: Colorado
Feather: HAWKS, my FRENT
Fels: San Jose (except I really think it’s going to be the team down I-55 but I can’t say it)
Eastern Champ:
McClure: Tampa
Pullega: Ning
Hess: Toronna
Rankin: Boston
Feather: Pittsburgh
Fels: Tampa
Cup champ:
McClure: Tampa
Pullega: Tampa
Hess: Toronto
Rankin: Boston
Feather: Pittsburgh
Fels: Tampa

The Rockford IceHogs, the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate, will soon be opening their 2019-20 season. The Flying Piglets of Winnebago County will take to the BMO Harris Bank Center in hopes of furthering the careers of Chicago’s prospects. I’m back for another season of bringing you my takes on the (Olive) garden party down Rockford way.

Rockford went 35-31-4-6 last season, finishing seventh in the eight-team Central Division. My thoughts on the 2018-19 campaign can be found here. If you don’t have the time to read, here are the Cliffs Notes: The Hogs couldn’t score, so they missed the playoffs.

After taking over for the promoted Jeremy Colliton in November, Derek King was officially named Rockford’s head coach this summer. The Blackhawks will measure King’s success in how he handles the organization’s young talent.

In Rockford, winning takes a backseat to development. The Blackhawks have made this abundantly clear over the years in the way they have assembled the IceHogs roster. This year is no different.

Actually, the landscape in Rockford is even more devoid of veteran presence than usual. Veterans like Peter Holland, Jordan Schroeder, Andreas Martinsen and Andrew Campbell weren’t re-signed by Chicago. Players like Anthony Louis and Luke Johnson were not tendered offers. Rockford elected not to re-sign popular winger William Pelletier or AHL vet Terry Broadhurst.

This leaves a lot of openings for playing time. The bulk of it is going to go to the slew of prospects set to join the team. In terms of grizzled veterans, the cupboard is mostly bare. With one notable exception.

The big name at the top of the roster (as well as this post) is two-time Stanley Cup winner Kris Versteeg. Let’s examine why he’s here. Versteeg, who spent last season in the KHL and SHL when he wasn’t injured, signed an AHL contract with the IceHogs back in April. Signing that early really surprised me, as usually a veteran like Versteeg would test free agency in hopes for some NHL ink later in the summer.

Nothing has fallen off the 33-year-old winger so far in training camp. He was dutifully assigned to Rockford last week and will be among a handful of AHL signees to make the Hogs roster. There hasn’t been a captain named by the team the last two seasons. Whether King elects to make it official or not, consider that role to be Versteeg’s.

The Blackhawks can’t bring him aboard for a third tour with Chicago unless he’s signed to an NHL contract. I have trouble envisioning that scene, though it certainly could happen at some point this season. I think that Versteeg is prepared to spend the full season in Rockford. By the way he’s spoken publicly, he seems pretty happy to be on the farm. How that time plays out depends on his health as well as his leadership abilities.

“What leadership abilities?” comes the call from above.

Well, Versteeg has been with seven NHL teams (eight including the Bruins, for whom he never played) and I don’t recall anyone ever putting a letter on his sweater. He does, however, have a 643 games of NHL experience and eight trips to the playoffs. It stands to reason that he is fully aware of his role in the scheme of things and can put his considerable experience to use in Rockford.

The ceiling on this move: a fit and motivated Versteeg plays 60-plus games, puts up some respectable offensive numbers, mentors the piglets on and off the ice and helps draw a few curious fans into the BMO this winter. If the brass in the Hawks organization have another plan mapped out for Versteeg, I don’t see it.

As for the remainder of the roster? Things won’t be set in stone for a couple of weeks, but lets take a look…



Glad To Have You Back

Rockford is not long on returning players at forward. The ones coming back each have something to prove.

Dylan Sikura was Rockford’s Rookie of the Year, with 35 points (17 G, 18 A) in 46 games. The question for the organization is whether Sikura’s game can translate to NHL production.

Matthew Highmore, spent most of 2018-19 out of commission after a shoulder injury in late October. He’ll be looking to rebound in his third season in Rockford. With Sikura, Highmore will be counted on early this season to provide steady scoring at the top of the lineup.

Alexandre Fortin is in dire need of finding a finishing stroke as he enters his third season. Graham Knott and Nathan Noel are other players on the last year of their entry contracts.  Both may find ice time harder to come by as new prospects flood the roster.

Jacob Nilsson was placed on waivers by Chicago Sunday. Provided he clears, the IceHogs get last season’s MVP back in the fold. He was solid at both ends in his rookie season and will be a key player on special teams for Rockford.


Welcome To Winnebago County

King’s roster will be brimming with new faces up front. Mackenzie Entwistle, Brandon Hagel, Reece Johnson, Philipp Kurashev, Tim Soderlund, and Mikael Hakkarainen will be entering their rookie campaigns when the season begins.

The IceHogs will likely see several new acquisitions by the organization in action for at least part of the 2019-20 season. John Quenneville is a pickup from New Jersey who has 50-point potential in a full season of AHL play. He was a point a game player with Binghamton last year with 39 (18 G, 21 A) in 37 games.

A player like Aleksi Saarela could put up big offensive numbers if he winds up in Rockford with the proper mindset. Saarela had 30 goals for Charlotte last season, but it appears that he feels he belongs on an NHL roster. That could be an issue if Saarela comes to Rockford and sulks.

Several additional players should be coming down from Chicago once training camp winds down. Waiver-exempt players like Anton Wedin, Alexander Nylander or Dominik Kubalik could join a veteran or two who passes through waivers to bolster the Hogs roster.


AHL Deals

In addition to Versteeg, the IceHogs signed five other forwards to AHL contracts. Tyler Sikura, the MVP of the 2017-18 Hogs, is back on an AHL deal following seven-goals, twelve assists in 50 games for Rockford last season.

Sikura the Elder was hampered by a thumb injury but should be a regular in King’s lineup. Other than Nick Moutrey, who adds some bottom-six muscle, don’t expect the other Hogs signings to be at the BMO all that much.

That includes former 2014 Hawks draft picks Liam Coughlin (fifth round), who signed an AHL contract after finishing his college career at Vermont, and Jack Ramsey (seventh round), who signed after four years at Minnesota.

Matthew Thompson had 50 points (21 G, 29 A) for the Indy Fuel last season and figures to be in Indy for most of 2019-20.



The few returning players at defense are led by Lucas Carlsson and Dennis Gilbert.

Carlsson was Rockford’s Defenseman of the Year after a 33-point (9 G, 24 A) rookie season.

Gilbert was the IceHogs most consistently physical presence most nights. He’ll be looking to find a bit more offense in his game in his sophomore season, totaling 14 points (5 G, 9 A) in 2018-19. Joni Tuulola (4 G, 10 A in 52 games) could be Rockford ‘s only other returning player on defense.

Chicago did not ink a veteran defenseman to mentor the blue line, as was the case with with Andrew Campbell last year. The Blackhawks did sign Philip Holm to a two-way deal. Holm, who is currently going through waivers, spent last season in the KHL and has just one career NHL game to his credit.

Provided he doesn’t make the Blackhawks out of camp, expect Adam Boqvist to lead the host of rookie piglets. Nicolas Beaudin and Chad Krys are also new faces who should inject some excitement.

Rockford re-signed Josh McArdle to an AHL contract and also secured the services of Dmitry Osipov and Jake Ryczek. McArdle (19 games) and Osipov (eight games) both saw time with the IceHogs and will find themselves in the lineup when not in the ECHL with Indy.

Ryczek, a seventh-round pick by Chicago in the 2016 NHL Draft, spent most of last season in the QMJHL with Halifax.



It’s in this area that Rockford can enter the season with a measure of confidence. If things break Chicago’s way health-wise (keep ’em crossed), then the IceHogs may have one of the top goalie tandems in the AHL.

Collin Delia is coming off a season in which he was ninth in the league with a 2.48 GAA. His .922 save percentage was second in the league among qualified net men. As good as Delia has been for the Hogs, the other half of the goalie picture could wind up to be even better.

Kevin Lankinen was the odd man out for much of last season but played very well for Rockford in the latter stages of the 2018-19 campaign. He then followed up his rookie season in the AHL with an outstanding performance to win a gold medal with Finland at the World Championships.

I would expect the organization to balance the minutes in net, though either Delia or Lankinen should be able to handle full-time work in Rockford if need be. In a best-case scenario, both will man the crease 35-40 times for the IceHogs. If that doesn’t come to fruition, Rockford has two players under AHL deals.

Matt Tomkins enters his third year as a Rockford signing, having spent most of last year with Indy. He was up in Rockford briefly but did not appear in a game with the Hogs. Chase Marchand was signed by Rockford and will likely be with the Fuel all season.


The Schedule

Division wins are going to make the difference for the IceHogs; 66 of the 76 games on Rockford’s schedule are within the confines of the AHL’s Central Division.

Rockford have two games each with Laval, Belleville and Toronto and another four with Cleveland. The IceHogs non-division games are all against Eastern Conference teams; Rockford will not play a game against a Pacific Division opponent this season…unless it’s in the Western Conference Final.

As usual, besting the neighbors will be vital. The piglets will attempt to wrest the vaunted Illinois Lottery Cup from the Chicago Wolves. Rockford’s interstate rivals took the grail for the third consecutive season last spring; despite each team winning six of the twelve season contests, the Wolves earned more points in those games.

The Hogs also have an even dozen with Milwaukee again this season, though Rockford won’t see the Ads until December 7 at the BMO. The IceHogs square off with Grand Rapids ten times and have eight apiece with Iowa, Manitoba, San Antonio and Texas.

The schedule is fairly balanced throughout the season. Rockford has 24 home dates out of its first 46 games, then is at home in 14 of its final 30 games. The Hogs have a five-game home stand Oct. 30-Nov. 8 and a six-straight at home Jan. 25-Feb. 8. They have a five-game road trip at the end of February. Otherwise, there are no more than three consecutive games either home or away.


So…How’s This Team Gonna Do?

That, friends, is a question I’ll set about answering when the roster is more concrete. The Hogs kick off the season in Iowa October 4; I’ll be back with more thoughts on the upcoming season before then.

Follow me on twitter @JonFromi throughout the season as I offer updates and musings on the scene in Rockford.




Everything Else

Maybe a week ago, I would have told you that I was pretty excited to see what the Calgary Flames have in store this season. It has one of the most exciting young players in the game in Johnny Gaudreau, even if he’s a MAGA dipshit. He plays on a very entertaining line with Sean Monahan (is there a chance he could bend?). They have Michael Frolik whom I adore, who’s on a line with fellow hockey Zobrists Michael Backlund and Matthew Tkachuk. They have three #1 d-men, and just added Travis Hamonic who could be one of the better #2-3s in the game. And VERSTEEG! is here!. They look poised to make some serious noise in the West since 2004.

And then their owners started bitching about their arena deal not getting done and now I hope they go 0-82. Because fuck those guys. And wear the fucking throwbacks all the time, dillholes.

Cal And Gary Flames

’16-’17 Record: 45-33-4  94 points (4th in Pacific, torqued in 1st round by ANA)

Team Stats 5v5: 50.5 CF% (10th)  50.5 SF% (10th)  49.9 SCF% (18th)  7.6 SH% (16th)  .920 SV% (22nd)

Special Teams: 20.1 PP% (12th)  81.5 PK% (12th)

Everything Else

evil empire at joe-camel

Game Time: 6:30PM Central
TV/Radio: CSN, NBCSN, SportsNet1, WGN-AM 720
Mike Honcho: Canes Country

Tonight the Hawks will continue their tour throughout the the southeastern US in Raleigh, where they will close out the schedule heading into the All Star break, giving the vast majority of the roster an entire week off. And as they proved a month ago, the Canes will be more than happy to kick the Hawks right in the dick if they’re planning on coasting into the break.