Everything Else

For the Rockford IceHogs, the 2016-17 season is now in the history books. It wasn’t memorable in terms of team success, but it’s over. For the moment, that’s the best thing I can say about the last eight months.

Rockford wrapped up its season at home in what was announced as a sellout BMO audience. Some folks who bought tickets to the finale opted to sit this one out, though there still was a hefty crowd of IceHogs fans who wanted to send off a team who kept on plugging away for the bulk of the 76-game schedule.

It wasn’t pretty at the end. Rockford suffered a pair of blowouts to conclude a frustrating season. Saturday’s game was a sad affair that saw the league’s second-worst offensive team, the Iowa Wild, put up a five-spot on the Hogs (guess who the AHL’s worst offensive club was?) in the first two periods.

With what amounted to 20 minutes of garbage time awaiting us, I commented to the folks in my section (the ones who got out of the BMO before a torrential rainstorm kept people from checking out at the second intermission) that if the final score was 5-1 and the one Rockford goal came from the stick of P.C. Labrie, a lot of the fans wouldn’t mind so very much.

Several minutes into the most final of final periods, Jake Dowell got to a loose puck and skated it out of his zone. As he crossed the blue line, he spotted a teammate skating behind the Wild defense. Dowell quickly slid the puck through neutral territory and onto the stick of…Labrie, who had gone all season without knowing the feeling of sending a biscuit into a basket.

The assembled throng poised on the brink of ecstasy as the big forward faced his destiny, as well as Iowa goalie Steve Michalek. A simple flip over Michalek’s blocker allowed the crowd to release a season’s worth of frustrations into one glorious outpouring of joy.

Rookie William Pelletier took a touch pass from Brandon Mashinter into the offensive zone and beat Michalek from the dot to make it 5-2 in favor of Iowa. One Michael Latta fight (for which I assume he’ll be suspended next season) later and the game came to an end and it was time to leave. So we did.

Before the game, the IceHogs presented their annual team awards. I spent a bit of time speculating on possible recipients; below is a comparison of how that hardware was distributed.

 

IceHogs Defenseman Of The Year

Team Pick-Eric Gustafsson (68 games, 5 G, 25 A, 30 P, minus-27)
My Pick-Carl Dahlstrom (70 games, 6 G, 5 A, 11 P, minus-12)

Why go with Dahlstrom as opposed to Gustafsson or Ville Pokka? To me, it’s simple; I went with the defensemen most likely to defend effectively.

I’m not knocking what Pokka and Gustafsson did on the offensive end, but one of the major problems of this IceHogs team this season was the lack of shut-down types on the blue line. Rockford’s back end is largely set up to push the puck into the offensive zone; the lack of speed up front prevented that from happening. With the defense on its heels most nights, it led to a record amount of pucks in the Hogs net.

Pokka and Gustafsson are much better players when they are moving forward and looking to get scoring plays started. They were also a combined minus-52 between them. This was the first season that Pokka wasn’t partnered with an offensive monster (T.J. Brennan) or a solid defender (Cameron Schilling) most of the way, and it exposed some defensive flaws.

Gustafsson led the Hogs in assists (25) but also had a team-worst minus-27 rating. He was prone to very inconsistent play in his own end and still has much to learn defensively.

Viktor Svedberg played in just 51 games this season, but was very respectable in this area. His positioning has really improved in his time with the IceHogs. However, Dahlstrom has been the team’s most steady defender over the entirety of the campaign, and that’s how I’m going to interpret this award.

 

IceHogs Rookie Of The Year

Team Pick-Luke Johnson (see below)
My Pick-Luke Johnson (73 games, 8 G, 9 A, 17 P, minus-24)

To me, this award came down to the two players who were with the IceHogs for the bulk of the season-Johnson and Robin Norell.

Both Tyler Motte (43 games) and Gustav Forsling (30 games) started the year with Chicago and played a good chunk of time for the Blackhawks. Johnson seldom got out of Rockford’s bottom six for most of the season and accounted for just three assists in his first 20 games with the Hogs.

Getting his first AHL goal December 20, Johnson played hard at both ends and has been one of the more steady presences in the lineup. Of late, he has been part of a pretty effective line with Brandon Mashinter and William Pelletier.

Johnson’s rookie season wasn’t the stuff of dreams. He did come in at an opportune time; with the dearth of prospects on the roster he was able to get lots of ice time. Next year, the minutes may be harder to earn, but Johnson at least has a head start on the young guns.

 

IceHogs Unsung Hero

Team Pick-Martin Lundberg (see below)
My Pick-Martin Lundberg (67 games, 9 G, 12 A, 21 P, plus-one)

Lundberg is the type of guy I would love to see back with a role in next season’s club. He spent the majority of 2016-17 as a penalty killer and defensive stopper. However, he has the skill to compliment a scoring line as well. Lundberg was Rockford’s handyman this season, capable of fitting in with whatever grouping Ted Dent saw fit for him on a given evening.

Fourth on the current Hogs in goals and the only positive rating among the regulars, Lundberg also inserted himself in a couple of scraps along the way. He was also tied for the team lead with two game-winning goals.

 

IceHogs Most Improved Player

Team Pick-Kyle Baun (74 games, 14 G, 20 A, 34 P, minus-14)
My Pick-Johnson, Baun, or Robin Norell

I ultimately penciled in Norell for this award, assuming that the team wouldn’t double up on anybody and had already slotted Johnson and Baun into other awards. However, it would be hard not to recognize Baun based on his rocky start with the Hogs in his rookie campaign.

Here’s the thing; I could probably make a case for Baun for Most Improved and MVP as well as where I placed him on my list. Of the Rockford players remaining in town by season’s end, Baun was one player who stood out.

I was hoping that the free-agent signing from Colgate would be healthy and able to sweep aside what was a pretty forgettable rookie season. I felt like he had a lot to prove in 2016-17. Mission accomplished; Baun earned my respect with his sophomore performance.

Baun (who was also presented with the team’s top scorer award) appeared in 74 games this season, second to only Pokka, who again was the only Hogs player to play in every game. He made an impact at both ends of the ice, earning time on both special teams after rarely drawing such duties last season.

It’s hard to say where Baun slots into the organization’s plans moving forward. Baun is a heady player who earns his living around the net from an offensive standpoint. He should at least be in the mix to make the roster in Chicago.

 

IceHogs Heavy Hitter

Team Pick-Chris DeSousa (36 games, 4 G, 1 A, 5 P, minus-eight)
My Pick-Kyle Baun (74 games, 14 G, 20 A, 34 P, minus-12)

This is where I placed Baun; he dealt some of the biggest impacts of the season. He also laid into guys on a pretty consistent basis. Most importantly, his physical style paid off in the form of points throughout the season.

DeSousa? Well, he attempted to play the same up-tempo, forechecking style that served him well last season. The trouble is that it wasn’t nearly as effective when he wasn’t skating with Mike Liambas, who spent this season in Milwaukee.

He also didn’t get anywhere close to the ice time in which to make things happen. DeSousa missed the first couple of weeks with an injury and just never seemed to get a steady foothold in the lineup. With the AHL’s new fighting rules putting the kibosh on designated scrappers (I’ll get to that next week), Hogs coach Ted Dent often used Evan Mosey on the fourth line in lieu of DeSousa.

This isn’t a knock on what DeSousa brought to the team (including six fighting majors) or on his effort this season. The feisty winger played hard when he was in the lineup. That just didn’t happen enough for him in Rockford.

 

IceHogs Most Valuable Player

Team Pick-Brandon Mashinter (see below)
My Pick-Brandon Mashinter (61 games, 15 G, 15 A, 30 P, minus-20)

In any other year, Mashinter would have secured his place in the order of things with another 15-goal, 30-point type of season for which he can be counted on in the AHL. He would be an excellent complimentary player who leads by example, cleans up around the net, and handles the occasional physical disagreement.

Mashinter did all of those things this season, as has been the case in parts of four seasons in Rockford while wearing an “A” on that big sweater of his. He hit the 15-goal/30 point plateau for the fifth time in seven full AHL seasons despite missing almost a month due to an injury. He dropped the gloves on four occasions. He posted a hat trick back on November 12 and had two other multi-goal efforts.

Two of those team-leading 15 goals were of the game-winning variety. In fact, in the 25 games won by the IceHogs, Mashinter united rubber and twine a dozen times, leading to eight Rockford victories.

I know that I’ve made this general statement about Mashinter more times that we’d all care to hear concerning his place in professional hockey. In a season where the IceHogs jettisoned it’s three top scorers with six weeks remaining, the guy that operates in that fifteen feet around the cage gets a little extra recognition. Even on a team as bad as Rockford.

 

Some, But Not All, Of The Recaps

Wednesday, April 12-Milwaukee 2, Rockford 1

Milwaukee’s first goal came midway through the first period when Vladislav Kamenev managed to thread the needle between Lars Johansson and the left post. At the 15:47 mark, Ads forward Yakov Trenin made an incredible spin move to reign in a Mike Liambas pass in front of the Hogs crease. Maneuvering as if defenseman Erik Gustafsson was nowhere to be seen, Trenin flipped a backhand shot into the upper right corner of the net to give Milwaukee a 2-0 advantage at the intermission.

Rockford settled down and played hard the rest of the game. As has been the case all too often this season, the Hogs just weren’t able to create enough offense to catch the Admirals.

Tyler Motte put back a rebound of a Kyle Baun attempt to draw Rockford to within a goal of the lead at 11:50 of the final period. That was as close as things got as the IceHogs were not up to the task of tying the contest.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Radovan Bondra-Jake Dowell (C)-Anthony Louis

Tyler Motte-Jeremy Langlois-Kyle Baun

Brandon Mashinter (A)-William Pelletier-Luke Johnson

Matheson Iacoppelli-Michael Latta (A)

Luc Snuggerud-Ville Pokka

Erik Gustafsson-Robin Press

Nolan Valleau-Carl Dahlstrom

Robin Norell

Lars Johansson

 

Friday, April 14-Milwaukee 6, Rockford 2 

The IceHogs saw their lineup shrink before the second shift of the evening. Rockford coach Ted Dent had listed Anthony Louis twice on his official lineup card. As a result, Michael Latta was not listed in the official Hogs lineup. Latta was sent from the ice, ending his night before it started.

Milwaukee took the lead on the power play 5:01 into the proceedings. The goal came when Frederick Gaudreau skated to the left dot and sent the puck to the back of the net over the shoulder of Hogs goalie Mac Carruth.

The Admirals advantage was doubled at the 14:41 mark, after Carruth sent away a shot from the right circle by Vladislav Kamenev. The rebound found the stick of Justin Kirkland, who drove home the goal before Carruth could slide back into position, giving Milwaukee a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission.

The IceHogs fell behind 3-0 just 2:17 into the middle frame when a centering feed by Sam Girard hit the skate of Hogs defenseman Nolan Valleau and into the net. Valleau would get Rockford on the board a few minutes later. Shooting from the outside hash marks on the left halfboards, Valleau banked the puck off the far post and into the cage to cut the lead to 3-1 5:01 into the period.

Some rapid puck movement resulted in a Matt White tally at the 9:32 mark made it a 4-1  Ads lead. However, Rockford answered just over a minute later. Luc Snuggerud, shooting from a similar spot that resulted in Valleau’s goal, picked up his first pro goal when the puck glanced off of a Milwaukee skater and past Admirals goalie Marek Mazanec.

Down 4-2, Rockford had a pair of power play opportunities to get back in the contest. The first came and went without a serious chance. The second resulted in a shorthanded goal by Milwaukee’s Adam Pardy 17:43 into the middle frame. The late score put the Hogs down 5-2 after 40 minutes.

The third period was uneventful for Rockford, with the Admirals getting an even half-dozen on a Trevor Smith goal at the 3:54 mark.

Lines (Starters in italics)-Michael Latta was omitted from the lineup card and did not play.

Tyler Motte-Jeremy Langlois-Kyle Baun

Matheson Iacopelli-William Pelletier-Anthony Louis

Brandon Mashinter (A)-Luke Johnson-Radovan Bondra

Pierre-Cedric Labrie (A)-Jake Dowell

Luc Snuggerud-Ville Pokka

Eirk Gustafsson-Carl Dahlstorm

Nolan Valleau-Robin Norell

Mac Carruth

Power Play (0-2, surrendered a shorthanded goal)

Motte-Langlois-Baun-Gustafsson-Pokka

Iacopelli-Pelletier-Louis-Snuggerud-Valleau

Mashinter-Dowell-Bondra-Gustafsson-Pokka

Penalty Kill (Milwaukee was 1-1)

Motte-Dowell-Pokka-Dahlstrom

 

Wrapping Things Up

Next post, I will try and reflect on the season that was in Rockford. There’s lots to cover, but I will try to touch all the bases.

 

 

Everything Else

The Rockford IceHogs picked up a pair of wins this weekend thanks to the play of their two newest players. The Hogs signed a couple of skaters to ATOs this week; both had an impressive debut weekend.

The headline signing was that of the Blackhawks 2014 third-round selection Matheson Iacopelli, who signed his amateur tryout on the heels of his signing an entry-level contract with Chicago. The 6’2″ forward has big offensive upside and showed a bit of it in his first game with Rockford.

Iacopelli displayed a big shot several times over his first two games, most effectively on what was the game-winner over the Texas Stars Friday night. As advertised, Iacopelli showed a knack for getting into scoring areas.

Also as advertised, he showed that he still has refining to do on the defensive end. The Stars lone goal came in the second period Saturday when Iacopelli was a bit too casual covering the front of the net. This allowed Colin Campbell to squeeze by him for a tip-in.

Iacopelli, who leaves Western Michigan after two years, had 20 goals and 16 assists in 40 games with the Broncos this past season. He spent most of the weekend skating with Michael Latta and Evan Mosey.

Also signing an ATO with the IceHogs on Thursday was free-agent center William Pelletier, who was the First Star of Saturday’s 4-1 victory over the visiting Grand Rapids Griffins. In his second game with the team, Pelletier had a two-goal, four-point night.

Pelletier, 24, just finished his college career at Division III Norwich University by winning a national championship with the Cadets. In 83 collegiate games, Pelletier scored 126 points (53 G, 73 A). That includes a senior season of 18 goals and 28 helpers.

The 5’7″ speedster is looking to secure employment next season. Based on what I saw this weekend, the guy can play. Pelletier was noticeable on the ice in Friday’s win despite not breaking into the scoring column. He generated several chances for Brandon Mashinter and Luke Johnson against Texas before lighting it up with those same line mates against the Griffins.

One weekend does not a season make. Still, it was good to see some offensive capability on a team starving for it on a nightly basis. Many of these ATOs are going to form the nucleus of the 2017-18 IceHogs. As expected, it would appear that squad will be a younger group than the one that came before it.

 

A Slice Of The BMO

Often, the BMO’s public address announcer will recognize returning players or point out a milestone to the fans. There was reason for such announcements during both home games this weekend. The execution just wasn’t on point.

Friday saw the return of Mark McNeill, who spent several seasons with Rockford and was traded just a few weeks ago, to his old stomping ground. This could hardly have escaped the team; McNeill started the game for Texas and took the opening faceoff.

One would expect that a recently traded player would get at least a cursory shoutout. Eventually, McNeill received a nice bit of acknowledgement from announcer Chris Toltzman. The timing could have been better; the announcement came late in the third period as McNeill was lining up for a crucial offensive-zone faceoff with his team down a goal. (If you speculated that there were Rockford fans who went online to pout about McNeill not backing out of the draw so he could wave to them, you would be absolutely correct.)

The IceHogs whiffed on another opportunity the following evening. P.C. Labrie had been named Rockford’s nominee for the league’s Man Of The Year Award, as I mentioned in an update to my post last week. Labrie was a scratch Friday but was in the lineup for Saturday’s game with Grand Rapids. Alas, Labrie was not recognized for his recent honor during any of the media stoppages throughout the contest.

Perhaps the team was waiting to make an announcement at a later game; surely he’ll be recognized at the Hogs final home game April 15 when a slew of other team award winners will be on display. It was a bit surprising that with ample opportunity to recognize a fan favorite, the IceHogs chose not to do so.

 

Recaps

Tuesday, March 28-Iowa 4, Rockford 0

The Hogs losing streak reached four games as they were shutout for the second straight contest. Iowa got a hat trick from newly signed forward Luke Kunin to pick up the win.

Kunin’s first two goals came early in the opening period. Iowa took a 1-0 lead 3:o2 into the game when a stretch pass from Nick Seeler started a 2-on-1 that ended with Kunin gaining entrance to the Hogs back door via a pass and return with Sam Anas.

At 8:44, Kunin picked off a pass attempt by Ville Pokka and started into the Rockford zone with numbers. Maxime Fortunus got off a shot in the high slot area, which was redirected by the rookie past Hogs goalie Mac Carruth.

Rockford had six shots at the power play throughout the evening to get a puck past Iowa starter Alex Stalock. Each was unsuccessful. Stalock stopped a breakaway attempt by Jeremy Langlois late in the second period that might have gotten the Hogs back into the game.

Instead, Alex Tuch slammed the door on Rockford early in the final period, driving to the net and backhanding the puck into the upper corner of Carruth’s net. Kunin completed the hat trick with an empty netter with 1:16 remaining.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Martin Lundberg-Vinnie Hinostroza-Kyle Baun

Brandon Mashinter (A)-Jeremy Langlois-Anthony Louis

Tyler Motte-Michael Latta-Luke Johnson

Pierre-Cedric Labrie (A)-Jake Dowell (C)-Chris DeSousa

Erik Gustafsson-Ville Pokka

Gustav Forsling-Luc Snuggerud

Nolan Valleau-Robin Norell

Mac Carruth

Power Play (0-6)

Hinostroza-Mashinter-Langlois-Gustafsson-Pokka

Baun-Lundberg-Latta-Forsling-Snuggerud

Penalty Kill (Iowa was 0-2)

Dowell-Lundberg-Gustafsson-Pokka

Motte-Labrie-Forsling-Snuggerud

Baun-Johnson-Valleau-Norell

 

Friday, March 31-Rockford 3, Texas 1

The IceHogs broke their losing streak, thanks in part to Matheson Iacopelli, who potted the game-winner in his first game in Rockford.

Texas scored first when Caleb Herbert converted on a penalty shot 8:17 into the first period. The IceHogs evened things up on the power play 35 seconds into the middle frame.

Brandon Mashinter took a big whack at the puck from the top of the right circle. The shot caught the top far side corner of the Stars net for the equalizer. Rockford dominated the action in the second period but was unable to get another puck past Texas goalie Justin Peters.

The key sequence in the contest occurred midway through the final period. Iacopelli’s first pro twine-tickler was set up in masterful fashion by Michael Latta. Latta received a pass from Evan Mosey, who had won a battle for the puck in the left corner of the Stars zone. Unable to get off a shot at the left post, Latta dropped a pass back to Iacopelli in the slot. The rookie knew just what to do with it, and Rockford led 2-1 at the 9:21 mark.

A delay of game penalty gave Texas a late power play and a chance to tie. The Stars called their timeout and pulled Peters for a two-man advantage. However, Jake Dowell got to a loose puck and converted on the empty-net opportunity to wrap up the contest with 22 seconds left.

Tyler Motte left the game early in the opening period after being hit with a puck. Bleeding profusely as he skated off, Motte did not return to action.

Iacopelli, Johansson, and Mashinter were voted the game’s three stars.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Brandon Mashinter (A)-William Pelletier-Luke Johnson

Tyler Motte-Jeremy Langlois-Anthony Louis

Martin Lundberg-Jake Dowell (C)-Kyle Baun

Matheson Iacopelli-Michael Latta (A)-Evan Mosey

Gustav Forsling-Ville Pokka

Erik Gustafsson-Luc Snuggerud

Carl Dahlstrom-Robin Norell

Lars Johansson

Power Play (1-4)

Mashinter-Pelletier-Baun-Gustafsson-Pokka

Iacopelli-Johnson-Louis-Forsling-Snuggerud

Penalty Kill (Stars were 0-1, Dowell scored a shorthanded empty-netter)

Dowell-Lundberg-Forsling-Pokka

 

Saturday, April 1-Rockford 4, Grand Rapids 1

Saturday, two goals from William Pelletier helped propel the Hogs to a rare victory over the Central Division leaders. In fact, Pelletier figured in all four tallies as Rockford won its second in a row.

Midway through the first period, Brandon Mashinter traded passes with Pelletier coming into the Grand Rapids zone. Mashinter then found Kyle Baun in the high slot. Baun stuck the biscuit into the upper corner of the Griffins net at 8:31 for a 1-0 IceHogs lead.

Less than three minutes later, Pelletier found himself in front of the net on a Rockford power play. His redirect of Erik Gustafsson’s shot zipped past Griffins goalie Eddie Pasquale and settled into the net. 11:20 into the game, the Hogs held a 2-0 advantage.

The Griffins cut the lead to 2-1 midway through the second period on a Colin Campbell goal. However, Pelletier’s line got right back to work. Mashinter got hold of a loose puck in the Grand Rapids zone and found Pelletier alone in the slot. Taking plenty of time to line up his shot, Pelletier beat Pasquale and made it 3-1 IceHogs at the 14:03 mark.

At 16:23, Luke Johnson got in on the fun. Pelletier got control of the puck in the corner of his defensive zone and sent it behind the net to Luc Snuggerud. The rookie defenseman brought the puck up the right side and sent a long pass that Johnson hauled in before crossing the blue line and firing past Pasquale.

The third period got physical as the Griffins attempted to cut into the lead. Martin Lundberg was the recipient of a big hit by Dominik Shine. Jeremy Langlois took offense and engaged the Griffins forward. Lundberg skated to the dressing room and did not return.

A few minutes later, another altercation resulted in 10 minute misconduct penalties for Dylan McIlrath and Mitch Callahan of Grand Rapids, along with P.C. Labrie and Michael Latta of the Hogs. Despite being a bit short on the bench, Rockford closed out the Griffins.

For his four-point evening, Pelletier was named the game’s First Star. Mashinter, who had three helpers, was the Second Star. Jeff Glass stopped 36 of 37 Griffins shots to nab Third Star honors.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Brandon Mashinter (A)-William Pelletier-Luke Johnson

Martin Lundberg-Jake Dowell (C)-Kyle Baun

Pierre-Cedric Labrie (A)-Jeremy Langlois-Anthony Louis

Matheson Iacopelli-Michael Latta-Evan Mosey

Gustav Forsling-Ville Pokka

Luc Snuggerud-Erik Gustafsson

Carl Dahlstrom-Robin Norell

Jeff Glass

Power Play (1-3)

Mashinter-Pelletier-Baun-Pokka-Gustafsson

Langlois-Louis-Latta-Forsling-Snuggerud

Penalty Kill (Grand Rapids was 0-3)

Latta-Lundberg-Pokka-Dahlstrom

Baun-Langlois-Snuggerud-Gustafsson

Dowell-Johnson-Forsling-Norell

 

Suitcase Week

Rockford will be on the road this week, starting in Iowa Thursday night. The Hogs then visit Milwaukee on Saturday night before finishing their season series with the Chicago Wolves Sunday afternoon.

Occasionally I have a lucid thought concerning the IceHogs; follow me @JonFromi on twitter for your chance to view it when it pops up.

 

 

Everything Else

The Rockford IceHogs continue to limp toward the end of the 2016-17 campaign. The Blackhawks AHL affiliate dropped a weekend set with Grand Rapids, losing in Michigan Friday before being shutout at the BMO Harris Bank Center the following evening.

Since losing several top scorers at the NHL trade deadline, the Hogs have not fared well. They’ve lost ten of their last eleven; Saturday’s 4-0 loss to the Griffins put an exclamation point on what has been a franchise-low showing this season.

Everything Else

The Rockford IceHogs got an influx of new talent last week, with some of the new kids making an immediate impact. The Hogs managed three of a possible six points in three contests this past week.

The two newest faces belonged to defenseman Luc Snuggerud and forward Anthony Louis, who both signed amateur tryout contracts following their signing with Chicago. Both players got into action beginning this past weekend.

Everything Else

To say the Rockford IceHogs have been depleted by the deadline deals of their parent club would be a massive understatement.

Hey, that’s the way it goes when you are an affiliate. As the AHL season approaches the final weeks, the fact remains that the Hogs are going to be suffering from a definite lack of manpower.

Everything Else

For the Rockford IceHogs, the All-Star break could not come at a better time. I guess it could come in the middle of a winning streak, but that hasn’t happened much during the 2016-17 campaign.

The Hogs are next in action this Friday and have plenty to ponder this week. Rockford hits the break losers of its last five games. The IceHogs dropped all three games this past week. In doing so, they were out scored 14-5, including 8-0 in the third period.

With a .400 points percentage that is the worst in the league, visions of playoff hockey at the BMO this spring is a delusion of grandeur. What players may be thinking in the coming weeks likely centers on where they will be when the season ends.

It would stun me if the roster remains intact through the NHL and AHL trade deadlines. Who might be on their way out? In my opinion, don’t mark anyone as 100 percent safe. Well…nearly anyone.

Everything Else

For the Rockford IceHogs, the All-Star break could not come at a better time. I guess it could come in the middle of a winning streak, but that hasn’t happened much during the 2016-17 campaign.

The Hogs are next in action this Friday and have plenty to ponder this week. Rockford hits the break losers of its last five games. The IceHogs dropped all three games this past week. In doing so, they were out scored 14-5, including 8-0 in the third period.

With a .400 points percentage that is the worst in the league, visions of playoff hockey at the BMO this spring is a delusion of grandeur. What players may be thinking in the coming weeks likely centers on where they will be when the season ends.

It would stun me if the roster remains intact through the NHL and AHL trade deadlines. Who might be on their way out? In my opinion, don’t mark anyone as 100 percent safe. Well…nearly anyone.

Everything Else

Here’s hoping that 2017 is kinder to the Rockford IceHogs then the previous three months. To put it plainly, the 2016 part of this year’s campaign flat out sucked.

Through 32 games, the AHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks has been struggling to stay out of the cellar of the Western Conference. Only the Charlotte Checkers have fared worse than the BMO boys heading into this week’s action.

How bad has it been? Hold your nose. I’m throwing out some numbers; they aren’t lemony fresh.

Everything Else

The Rockford IceHogs, AHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks, had themselves a pretty light week in terms of the schedule. The Hogs had just one game this past week, a Wednesday night matchup with their closest and biggest rival, the Chicago Wolves.

I considered taking the week off and just including a recap of the game in my next post. At that point, I realized that I had lots of thoughts on the IceHogs in general and some players in particular that I haven’t had much of a chance to discuss.

With that in mind, I’ll recap the one game for you this week. However, I’ll be that rambling cousin at the egg nog bowl. You’ll get your rundown, along with plenty of rest stops. Buckle up…

Wednesday, December 21, 5:50 p.m.-Upon entering the BMO Harris Bank Center (picking up my promotional hat and trying to ignore the folks in line complaining to the security staff that they were there first), I notice that the microphones normally attached to the plexiglass are noticeably absent. Also, there aren’t two or three extra cameras set up around the arena.

We are playing the Wolves, right?