Everything Else

The Rockford IceHogs, AHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks, are playing a waiting game until later this evening. Monday night, Rockford’s Central Division Final opponent will be decided when Manitoba or Grand Rapids wrap up their Game 5 tilt.

The IceHogs have been to the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs on two previous occasions since the Hawks affiliate arrived in the Forest City. They have never advanced past this round.

Back in 2008, Rockford’s inaugural campaign, the Hogs were eliminated by the Chicago Wolves. The piglets swept Chicago last week to advance to their current position.

In 2014-15, the IceHogs finished a single point behind Grand Rapids for the top spot in the Midwest Division with a franchise-high 46-23-0-5 mark. They swept Texas to meet the Griffins in round two. Grand Rapids then dispensed the Hogs in five games.

Will the third appearance in the second round be the charm for Rockford? The ingredients for a successful postseason run have been stewing over the course of the past six weeks.


How’s That, You Say? Here’s Why The Arrow Is Pointing North:

The IceHogs are playing their best hockey of the season.

Rockford finished the regular season 14-5-1-1 before winning three straight against the division champions in the opening round of postseason action.

They’re getting loads of veteran leadership at both ends of the ice.

Veteran players like Chris DiDomenico (arguably the Hogs best forward the past few weeks), Lance Bouma and Andreas Martinsen have added a layer of ruggedness that has served Rockford well as the physical nature of playoff hockey becomes more of a factor. Cody Franson and Adam Clendening deepened the back end dramatically.

Their special teams, particularly the power play, has kicked it up a couple of notches.

Heading into the Wolves series, I pointed out that just looking at Rockford’s pathetic man-advantage numbers would be misleading. I’m guessing Chicago knew that going in. I’m darn sure the Wolves knew that when they skated off the Allstate Arena ice following their 4-3 loss to Rockford.

The IceHogs converted their power-play chances at a rate of 39 percent (7-18) against Chicago. ‘Nuff said.

The goal-tending has been very good.

Rookie Collin Delia has earned the right to anchor the Hogs in net regardless of the opposition in the division final. He was by far the hottest goalie in town heading into the postseason, going 10-1-2 in his final 13 starts of the regular season.

In three playoff games (nearly four, with the extra sessions Thursday night), Delia posted three wins with a 1.62 GAA and a .927 save percentage.

Since the IceHogs punched their ticket to the second round, speculation on who Rockford would be better off facing has run rampant. Personally, I’d rather face the team that lost their best-of-five series. That’s not the way it works, though.

I figured that the Griffins would make quick work of a slumping Manitoba club, but the Moose have played well. Grand Rapids had to win Thursday to force a Game 5. Either of these teams are going to be a formidable opponent.

Eric Tangradi, the Griffins leading goal-scorer and a veteran of AHL playoff battles, is out for Game 5 via suspension. Both teams have won in the other’s barn this series, with Game 5 being in Grand Rapids. It could go either way, to be honest.

Later this week, when the IceHogs have an opponent, I will return with a in-depth look at what could be a historic playoff series for the folks here in Winnebago County.



Everything Else

When the 2017-18 season got underway, the Rockford IceHogs were fresh-faced piglets with very little veteran presence. The need for experience, especially up front, was painfully evident despite the talent Rockford sported in the early part of the AHL season.

Over the course of the past few months, the Hawks organization has infused key veterans into the lineup that have the Hogs poised for a return to the postseason after last year’s last-place finish. Here are a few players who have made a big impact on Rockford’s fortunes since coming aboard in the last few months.


Cody Franson

Since being sent down to Rockford by the Blackhawks, Franson has six goals and 14 assists in 32 games. He has been a standout on the power play (5 G, 7 A) and has been a key veteran mentor for coach Jeremy Colliton. Over his last 14 games, Franson has 12 points (4 G, 8 A) to go with a plus-eight skater rating.

Franson has been a catalyst on the man advantage, with five goals and seven helpers. His right-handed blasts from the left dot have consistently found twine. In the last seven games, the IceHogs are 8-32 when up a man. Rockford is finally making opponents pay for taking penalties.


Adam Clendening

In Rockford’s six-point week of action, Clendening had seven points (2 G, 5 A). On Monday, Clendening was named the CCM/AHL Player Of The Week for his efforts. To say the move back to the IceHogs was symbiotic for both parties is an understatement.

Before the trade that brought Clendening to the organization, he had a goal and four assists in 21 games with Tuscon. In 32 games with Rockford, he has 28 points (4 G, 24 A).

The acquisition of Clendening and Franson are a major factor in this late-season success. The defense has two veterans who have teamed up on a lethal power play of late. The blue line runs pretty deep for Rockford heading into any potential postseason action.


Chris DiDomenico

Currently on an eight-game point streak, DiDomenico has brought an offensive jolt to the club. In his last ten games, during which Rockford has gone 8-1-1, the 29-year-old forward has five goals and eight apples.

In just 16 games with the Hogs, DiDomenico has 19 points (6 G, 13 A). Seven of those points have come on the power play.


Lance Bouma

After clearing waivers, the Blackhawks assigned Bouma to Rockford February 26. In 14 games with the IceHogs, the 27-year-old forward has five goals and six assists. His rugged style has helped bring a little more snarl to Rockford’s game.


Roster Moves

Goalie Matt Tomkins was brought from Indy up to back up Jeff Glass while Collin Delia and J.F. Berube finish up the season in Chicago. On Monday, forward Nathan Noel was loaned to the Fuel. In 17 games with the IceHogs, Noel had a goal and was a minus-two.

UPDATE-Monday afternoon, the Hawks recalled Glass and re-assigned Delia to Rockford.



Rockford, now 37-25-4-4 piled up six points in the standings with three wins this week. As of Monday, the Hogs have gone 8-1-1 in their last ten games and sit in fourth place in the Central Division with a .586 points percentage. They have a bit of breathing room over Milwaukee and Iowa below them, while Grand Rapids and Manitoba (both at .606) are definitely within striking distance if the piglets remain hot.


Monday, March 26-Rockford 4, Manitoba 2

A pair of power play goals provided the winning margin for Rockford. In the first of two games north of the border, Collin Delia and the Hogs were able to subdue the Moose.

The first IceHogs goal came via the man advantage, sparked by a sweet dot-to-dot pass by Chris DiDomenico. Working a give and go with Adam Clendening, DiDomenico skated into the right circle and threaded the puck to Cody Franson at the left dot. Franson’s one-timer zipped past Manitoba goalie Jamie Phillips and snuggled into the ropes at 9:10 of the first period.

Less than two minutes later, Tyler Sikura won an offensive draw and Clendening took possession. Tossing a shot toward goal from the right point, the puck snuck past Phillips and was escorted across the goal line by Henrik Samuelsson for a 2-0 Rockford advantage.

Mason Appleton drew the Moose to within a goal midway through the second, but late in the period the Hogs power play struck again. Clendening took a drop pass from DiDomenico and sent a slap shot to net that Phillips was able to block. The rebound was collected by Sikura, who hooked up rubber and twine to put the Hogs up 3-1 at the 16:59 mark.

Delia preserved that two-goal lead with some fine work in the crease in the last three minutes of the middle frame. William Pelletier provided some insurance midway through the third, capping off a odd-man rush by Darren Raddysh and Luc Snuggerud. Snuggerud’s attempt bounced off the speedy forward and tumbled into the Manitoba net to make it 4-1 Rockford.

The Moose would score at 16:54 but would get no closer as the IceHogs claimed their first victory over Manitoba this season. Delia, who stopped 32 shots, was named the game’s first star, with Clendening nabbing second star honors for his three-apple evening.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Lance Bouma-Chris DiDomenico-Anthony Louis

William Pelletier-Luke Johnson (A)-Tanner Kero (A)

Henrik Samuelsson-Tyler Sikura-Matheson Iacopelli

Robin Norell-Graham Knott-Nathan Noel

Viktor Svedberg-Cody Franson

Carl Dahlstrom-Adam Clendening (A)

Darren Raddysh-Luc Snuggerud

Collin Delia

Power Play (2-4)



Penalty Kill (Manitoba was 0-5)





Wednesday, March 28-Rockford 4, Manitoba 3

For the second time in three days, the Hogs were victorious in Winnipeg, posting four unanswered goals after falling behind 1-0. The win knocked Manitoba out of first place in the Central Division for the first time in several months.

The Moose drew first cord at the 8:51 mark. Former Hogs defenseman Kirill Gotovets sent a puck to net that was redirected by Chase DeLeo and past Hogs starting goalie Jeff Glass. The next half-hour of action was dominated by the IceHogs.

Rockford’s power play had an answer just minutes later. Adam Clendening struck the crossbar with his shot from the right point. Tyler Sikura pounced on the loose puck and put it firmly into the back of the Manitoba net, tying the game at a goal apiece 10:38 into the game.

The IceHogs closed out the opening period with a couple of scores to take command of the contest. After William Pelletier won a battle for the puck in the Moose zone, he sent a pass to Luke Johnson in the corner. Johnson was able to hit the stick of a falling Tanner Kero in front of the net. The puck glanced off of the back of Manitoba goalie Michael Hutchinson and into the cage at 17:14 of the first period.

Up 2-1, Rockford broke out of their own zone a minute later and took a two-goal lead with a nice bit of transition work. Newly returned Matthew Highmore started the play, sliding the puck along the half boards to Sikura. Taking the puck into neutral ice, Sikura hit Clendening crossing the red line. Clendening carried the puck into Manitoba territory, wound up at the top of the right circle and blasted it past Hutchinson at 18:20 for a 3-1 Hogs lead.

Rockford extended the advantage to 4-1 on a Chris DiDomenico wrister from the slot 4:31 into the second. The play was set up by Anthony Louis, who took pass from linemate Lance Bouma and dropped the puck back to the streaking DiDomenico.

Manitoba would creep back into contention with goals by Cameron Schilling late in the middle frame and Brody Sutter with 3:05 left in the game. Glass and the Hogs held on to post Rockford’s third-straight win. DiDomenico and Clendening were the game’s first two stars.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Henrik Samuelsson-Tyler Sikura-Matthew Highmore

Lance Bouma-Chris DiDomenico-Anthony Louis

Tanner Kero (A)-Luke Johnson (A)-William Pelletier

Matheson Iacopelli-Graham Knott-Nathan Noel

Carl Dahlstrom-Adam Clendening (A)

Viktor Svedberg-Cody Franson

Darren Raddysh-Luc Snuggerud

Jeff Glass

Power Play (1-6)



Penalty Kill (Manitoba was 0-2)





Saturday, March 31-Rockford 5, San Jose 3

It was a wild kind of luau at the BMO. The Hogs celebrated Hawaiian Night with a huge comeback victory over the Barracuda.

Sloppy play in their own zone cost the IceHogs midway through the first period. Darren Raddysh had a pass attempt broken up as he was trying to enter neutral ice. The puck was collected by San Jose’s Sam Warning, who skated to the net and backhanded a shot past Hogs goalie Jeff Glass.

Rockford evened the score on a power play goal by Adam Clendening. Taking control of Luke Johnson’s faceoff win, Clendening moved to the high slot area and fired past Barracuda goalie Stephon Williams. At 15:38, the Hogs and San Jose were tied at one.

The Barracuda dominated the second period, getting goals from former Hog Brandon Mashinter and Caleb Herbert. Rockford was down 3-1 and in need of some quick offense in the third period. They got it.

Things got rolling in the opening minute of the final frame. Another Clendening blast from the right point was tipped in by Lance Bouma to cut the San Jose lead to 3-2 just 41 seconds in. Ninety seconds later, Henrik Samuelsson was waiting at the right post for Luc Snuggerud to find him coming around the San Jose net. His goal tied the game 3-3 at the 2:11 mark.

Two minutes later, Snuggerud would send a shot toward net that caught the skate of Barracuda defenseman Radim Simek and wound up in the back of the cage. With Rockford now up 4-3, a shell-shocked San Jose club called its timeout.

Upon returning to the ice, the Hogs scored for the forth time in four minutes. This one was an unassisted goal by Matthew Highmore, who picked up a loose puck along the boards, skated to the right dot and stuck one past Williams for a 5-3 Rockford advantage just 4:25 into the third.

That ended the scoring for both teams. The IceHogs rode the momentum of their offensive outburst to a fourth-straight victory. Highmore (first), Clendening (second) and Snuggerud (third) were voted the games three stars.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Henrik Samuelsson-Tyler Sikura-Matthew Highmore

Lance Bouma-Chris DiDomenico-Anthony Louis

Tanner Kero-Luke Johnson (A)-William Pelletier

Matheson Iacopelli-Graham Knott-Robin Norell

Viktor Svedberg (A)-Cody Franson (A)

Carl Dahlstrom-Adam Clendening

Darren Raddysh-Luc Snuggerud

Jeff Glass

Power Play (1-7)



Penalty Kill (San Jose was 1-6)





This Week

The Hogs are Lone Star bound this week, with a game Wednesday night in San Antonio followed by back-to-back skates with the Texas Stars Friday and Saturday.

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




Everything Else

The Rockford IceHogs have battled their way into a spot in the AHL’s postseason party…for now.

With nine games left heading into action Monday, the Hogs are a point ahead of Iowa for the final playoff spot in the Central Division. Rockford overtook the Wild with two regulation wins in three games this week, including a 5-2 win in DesMoines last Monday.

This season is far from over. Just two of Rockford’s final nine games is at the BMO Harris Bank Center. Iowa and Milwaukee, who beat the IceHogs in Rockford Friday night, are still within striking distance. The Admirals sit just three points back of Rockford, who like Iowa and Milwaukee have played 67 games this season.

The Hogs draw a tough assignment to start this week’s action. Rockford is in Winnipeg for two games with the division-leading Moose on Monday and Wednesday.

Manitoba is not the same red-hot squad of earlier this season and they have been much better on the road than in its own building. However, the Moose have won both contests with Rockford this season. Manitoba is second in the AHL in scoring with 3.39 goals per contest. They have a lethal power play (21.6 efficiency) and are fast and physical on the ice.

The Moose have five 40-plus point scorers on the active roster. By contrast, Rockford’s top point producer, Anthony Louis, has 38 points on the season. The Hogs have been grinding out a lot of wins lately, though Rockford is putting up an average of 3.03 goals a game.

I figure that the IceHogs are going to have to win six of these last nine games to make the postseason. A split up north is vital to making that happen. Following Wednesday’s tilt with the Moose, Rockford hosts San Jose on Saturday night.


Viktor S Scores A Viktor-E

It is very apparent that the IceHogs will set a franchise record for courtesy this season. This weekend, a Rockford skater earned a fighting major for just the tenth time this season. The Hogs will obliterate the previous low of 39.

That tenth scrap came in the third period of a tight game with the Chicago Wolves, when Viktor Svedberg got tired of the antics of Wolves forward Keegan Kolesar. What made this fight memorable is the fact that for the first time this season, a Rockford skater scored anything resembling a clear win over an opponent.

In his second dropping of the gloves this month, Svedberg landed several blows and bloodied the nose of his adversary. The 6’9” defenseman spent the next five minutes icing his right hand, so hopefully he’s none the worse for wear.

Svedberg has been a healthy and effective part of the lineup in 2017-18. In 64 games this season, he has set career highs in goals (six) and points (21).  His skater rating of plus-16 is tied for the team lead.


Roster Moves

The IceHogs saw the arrival of forward Victor Ejdsell this past week, as well as his departure. Ejdsell played two games with Rockford before be recalled by the Hawks. The 6’5″ Swede impressed me with his skating and positioning in his appearances at the BMO this weekend. He had an assist against Milwaukee Friday.

Rockford also signed D Joni Tuulola to a PTO on Friday. Tuulola had been playing in his native Finland this season.



Rockford won two of three games this week, good enough to move into fourth place in the Central Division. The Hogs are 34-25-4-4 in 2017-18.

Monday, March 19-Rockford 5, Iowa 2

The Hogs posted a key road win over the Wild, paced by a pair of goals by Chris DiDomenico.

Rockford got on the board in the sixth minute when Graham Knott got a piece of a Luc Snuggerud shot on its way to the net. At the 12:23 mark, Luke Johnson made it a 2-0 game after taking a pass from Cody Franson and skaking to the right dot.

Iowa pulled back to 2-1 on a Mitch McLain goal, but DiDomenico won control of a loose puck in the Rockford zone and brought it all the way back into Wild territory. Shooting from the left circle, the puck glanced off the crossbar, off defenseman Alex Grant and into the cage for a 3-1 Hogs lead 17:19 into the first period.

DiDomenico made it a 4-1 Rockford advantage with a power play strike 3:18 into the second period. The goal was set up by Adam Clendening, who found DiDomenico at the top of the right circle for the slap shot.

Kyle Rau scored midway through the second period to close the gap to 4-2, but that was as close as things got in DesMoine on this night. Viktor Svedberg banked a clearing attempt off the glass and into an empty net in the closing minutes to seal the win.

No lines tonight; Robin Norell skated as a forward. The Hogs were two of five on the power play. Jeff Glass stopped 31 of 33 shots to pick up his 13th win of the season. DiDomenico and Franson (two assists) were named the first and third stars of the game.


Friday, March 23-Milwaukee 5, Rockford 2

Things got away from the IceHogs in the final period. The desperate Admirals dropped four goals on Rockford to end an eight-game Hogs points streak.

Tyler Sikura got a shot past the pads of Anders Lindback 5:01 into the game. The puck slowly slid toward the goal line until Henrik Samuelsson gave it a last push to the net to give the IceHogs the lead.

The score would remain 1-0 through the majority of the first two periods. Milwaukee tied the game with 25 seconds left in the middle frame on an Anthony Richard goal.

The third period was a wild affair that did not end well for Rockford. Former Hog Mark McNeill gave the Ads a 2-1 lead after Adam Clendening whiffed on a pass attempt from deep in his own zone. Midway through the third, Lance Bouma slipped a shot between Lindback and the left post to tie the game. From there, it was all Milwaukee.

Bobby Butler hit on the game-winner with a backdoor goal 10:09 into the final period. McNeill and Richard both added empty net scores in the last minute to finish off the Hogs.

Lines (starters in italics)

Tanner Kero (A)-Graham Knott-Kyle Maksimovich

Lance Bouma-Chris DiDomenico-Anthony Louis

Henrik Samuelsson-Tyler Sikura-Victor Ejdsell

Alex Wideman-Luke Johnson (A)-Matheson Iacopelli

Adam Clendening (A)-Carl Dahlstrom

Cody Franson-Viktor Svedberg

Darren Raddysh-Robin Norell

Jeff Glass

Power Play (0-1)



Penalty Kill (Ads were 1-4, though that goal came with the Hogs net empty.)





Saturday, March 24-Rockford 5, Chicago 3

The IceHogs rallied from a 2-0 first-period deficit to post the win over the Wolves.

Chicago got goals from Brandon Pirri and Teemu Pulkkinen in the first 20 minutes to put the Hogs in a hole. Rockford came out digging in the second period.

In the opening minute of the middle frame, William Pelletier had a shot deflect off of Wolves defenseman Griffin Reinhardt. The puck was gathered in by Lance Bouma at the left circle. His shot got the best of Chicago goalie Max Legace and made it a 2-1 game 49 seconds into the second.

Rockford tied the game at the 8:37 mark when Matheson Iacopelli zipped a wrist shot from the left point that caught the far side corner past Legace. A few minutes later, the Hogs took the lead.

Tyler Sikura went behind the Chicago net to chase down Luc Snuggerud’s shot attempt. Finding Henrik Samuelsson open at the right dot, Sikura’s pass was rifled into the back of the Wolves net at the 15:28 mark.

Less than a minute later, Darren Raddysh broke up a entry pass by Wade Megan and got the puck to Chris DiDomenico skating the other way. DiDomenico hit Bouma coming into the Wolves zone and Bouma handled the rest, twining his attempt past Legace for a 4-2 Rockford advantage at 16:17 of the second period.

Pulkkinen answered for Chicago late in the second to cut the Hogs advantage to 4-3. However, that was it for the Wolves offense. Collin Delia made several outstanding saves on point blank Wolves attempts late in the second to preserve the one-goal lead. Rockford added an empty-netter from DiDomenico with 1:50 remaining to put a ribbon on a fine comeback effort.

Bouma and DiDomenico were the game’s first two stars. Delia wound up with the victory, with 33 saves on the evening.

Lines (Starters in italics)

William Pelletier-Tanner Kero-Luke Johnson

Lance Bouma-Chris DiDomenico-Anthony Louis

Henrik Samuelsson-Victor Ejdsell-Tyler Sikura

Matheson Iacopelli-Graham Knott-Nathan Noel

Cody Franson (A)-Viktor Svedberg (A)

Adam Clendening-Carl Dahlstrom

Darren Raddysh-Luc Snuggerud

Colin Delia

Power Play (1-4)



Penalty Kill (Chicago was 1-4)





Follow me @JonFromi on twitter for updates of the IceHogs push to the Calder Cup Playoffs.


Everything Else

When the Rockford IceHogs contemplate their annual team awards in a few weeks, they can skip right by the most-improved player award. If Collin Delia hasn’t earned that honor from the team at this point, I’m not sure they’re qualified to give out awards.

The rookie goalie, signed to an entry contract by the Blackhawks back in July, has seen his fortunes undergo quite the transformation. For the first three months of this season, it couldn’t have gone worse for the former Merrimack standout.

These past couple of months, things couldn’t be better.

The 23-year-old Delia was flat out terrible for the Indy Fuel to start the 2017-18 campaign. I will admit that I didn’t have good vibes about his chances when he presence was required in Rockford following some injuries across the organization.

Why would I; Delia was 1-7-2 for the Fuel with a 4.12 GAA and a .887 save percentage. He looked like a baby deer in net in his first AHL in Iowa November 9. Oh, and he also hadn’t played at either the AHL or ECHL level in over a month when he got a second start against the Wild December 28.

A funny thing happened, though. Delia won that second start. After a few games, Delia started to settle in. The last few weeks, he’s been pretty solid in the IceHogs net, going 8-2-2 in the 12 games leading up to this week’s schedule.

This past week, he was flat-out brilliant.

Wednesday night, Delia stopped 38 shots, propelling Rockford to a 2-1 win over Texas. Saturday night, Delia shut out the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, stopping 34 shots in a 3-0 Hogs victory (UPDATE-Delia was named the CCM/AHL Player Of The Week Monday). If Rockford is to get on a roll late in this season, it might just be with the California Kid manning the pipes.

Jeff Glass hasn’t been bad since being returned to Rockford last week. On the other hand, Delia has denied 72 of the last 73 shots taken at him and has won his last four starts. Makes sense to ride the hot hand for a while.

It has been fun watching Delia find his groove over the last couple of months. On a team full of young prospects, he’s come the furthest from the humble beginnings to his pro career this past fall. If Delia’s not the most-improved IceHogs player this season, someone upstairs isn’t watching.


Press Impresses

Defenseman Robin Press, who is on an AHL contract with the IceHogs, has spent most of this season in the ECHL with Indy. On Friday, he was named the CCM/ECHL Player Of The Month for his play in February.

Press put up 16 points (5G, 11A) in 14 games and had a plus-seven rating during that time. For the season, he has nine goals and 24 apples in 38 games played. Press is the first defenseman to nab this monthly honor in the ECHL since 2003.

The 23-year-old converted forward has had limited appearances in Rockford over the last three seasons. He was scoreless in seven games for the IceHogs this season. In fact, Press has yet to register a point in 18 AHL contests.

Press is 6’3” and 210 pounds but hasn’t shown a real physical game in the time he has spent in Rockford. His defensive positioning has been an issue when I’ve seen him play at the AHL level. The Blackhawks have been intrigued about his potential, though not enough to get his name on an entry contract. However, his play in Indy suggests that Press might be worth consideration for a steady role in Rockford.


What’s That On My Screen?

As I am wont to do on a Wednesday night, I was in my basement taking in Rockford’s game with Texas. I called up the game on AHL Live a little late and tried to get into the swing of the game.

“Well, it’s not too bad,” I thought as I saw the score. “No score through the first half of the period.”

The key revelation in that anecdote is that I saw the score. For the first time in forever, the IceHogs had the score, time remaining and the period in the corner of the game broadcast. Rockford had finally provided this vital information for the interested viewer. Huzzah!

Of course, the scoreboard at (kind of) center ice at the BMO is currently on the fritz and doesn’t have that information, but I was in my basement, so who cares?


New Looks To The Roster

In last week’s post, I pointed out that Chicago could make a few paper moves to ensure that some of the current Blackhawks could take part in possible playoff action for the Hogs. That came to fruition, with the Blackhawks sending J.F. Berube, Carl Dahlstrom and David Kampf to Rockford until the trade deadline, when all three were duly recalled.

Also earning a call-up was Matthew Highmore, meaning that by NHL rules, the Hawks can only recall one more player this season, barring injury. That likely means that veteran players like Cody Franson, Adam Clendening and Chris DiDomenico will be spending the duration of the campaign in Rockford.

Lance Bouma was assigned to the IceHogs after clearing waivers; he skated in all three games this week and had a pair of helpers in Saturday’s win.

Clendening, by the way, has found his scoring touch in Rockford. In 21 games with AHL Tuscon, he had a goal and four assists. In 21 games with the IceHogs, he has two goals and 16 helpers.



The IceHogs were a few minutes shy of grabbing points in all three games this week. However, they did win two of those contests. No lines again this week; I solemnly vow that I will have lines for next weekend’s action.

Wednesday, February 28-Rockford 2, Texas 1

Rockford won its second game in a row behind a 38-save performance by Collin Delia, besting the Stars in front of a healthy weeknight crowd at the BMO Harris Bank Center.

The Hogs power play got things started 14:46 into the opening period on what has become a potent strategy. Chris DiDomenico threaded a cross-ice pass to Cody Franson, who was waiting at the left dot. His one-timer got through the open back door of Texas goalie Mike McKenna for a 1-0 Rockford advantage.

The lead doubled early in the second period. The IceHogs wove their way into the Stars zone with some crisp passing. DiDomenico wound up with the puck near the left dot and dropped a backhand pass to Luc Snuggerud in the high slot. He didn’t get all of the biscuit on his one-timer, but the change-up got the best of McKenna and Rockford led 2-0 at the 4:20 mark.

The Stars got back to within a goal in the 13th minute on a Greg Rallo goal after Delia gave up a rebound in front of the crease. However, that was the only rubber the rookie would allow past him on this night. The Hogs couldn’t come up with any insurance; thanks to Delia, they didn’t need it.


Friday, March 2-Milwaukee 4, Rockford 1

With points on the table, the IceHogs let the game slip away in the closing minutes. Rockford dropped a key game to a division opponent despite allowing just 12 Admirals shots on goal.

The penalty kill gave up an early goal, with Alexandre Carrier holding in a clearing attempt and finding Emil Petterssen at the right dot. The resulting wrister beat Hogs goalie Jeff Glass to the near side, giving Milwaukee a 1-0 lead just 1:29 into the contest.

Rockford got back to even ground with a power play strike of its own 4:44 into the second period. Cody Franson collected a rebound of a Tyler Sikura shot and flung it past Ads goalie Anders Lindback to knot the game at a goal apiece.

That’s the way the score remained until late in the final frame. The Hogs had limited Milwaukee to just seven shots in the first 40 minutes of action and had several scoring opportunities wind up in Lindback’s glove.

With just over five minutes remaining in regulation, Anthony Louis juggled a clearing attempt from Franson on the neutral side of the Hogs blueline. Not surprisingly, it wound up in the back of Rockford’s net. Frederic Allard did the honors, finishing the 2-on-1 created by the turnover.

Two minutes later, Petterssen’s shot from the slot was blocked by Luc Snuggerud and hopped into the end boards. Mark Zengerle chased it down before hitting a wide open Petterssen in front of the Hogs net. Glass couldn’t make the stop and Milwaukee now led 3-1 at 17:05 of the third.

Former IceHogs forward Mark McNeill put a lid on the proceedings with an empty-net goal with 1:31 left. Rockford had out shot the Admirals 25-12 but came out of this game with nothing but a bus ride back to Illinois.


Saturday, March 3-Rockford 3, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 0

Another impressive Delia effort in net provided the backbone of the IceHogs victory. The rookie from Rancho Cucamonga, California recorded his first professional shutout in front of a sell-out audience at the BMO.

All the scoring Delia would need on this night came on a pretty bit of puck movement by Rockford midway through the first period. Chris DiDomenico got the action started from behind his net, backhanding a clearing pass to Lance Bouma along the left half boards.

Bouma skated up the left side, crossed into Penguins territory and sent a pass all the way across the zone to Luc Snuggerud. Snuggerud backhanded a centering pass to Anthony Louis, who was skating hard to the front of the net. Louis redirected the pass past goalie Etienne Marcoux to finish off a nifty lamp-lighter.

The score remained 1-0 Rockford until the puck drop to start the third period. Tyler Sikura won the draw, Bouma sent it back to Cody Franson and Franson hit Andreas Martinsen as he was about to enter the offensive zone. Martinsen took care of the rest.

Maneuvering past two Wilkes-Barre/Scranton defenders, Martinsen battled his way toward the right post. With defenseman Kevin Czuczman draped all over him and with only his right hand on his stick, the big Norwegian somehow flipped the puck past Marcoux into the promised land.

At ten seconds, it was the fastest IceHogs goal to begin a period in the AHL history of the franchise. It put Rockford up 2-0 and in the driver’s seat for the rest of the way. Martinsen closed out the scoring with an empty-netter with 1:01 left.

Delia handled all 34 Penguins shots, including anchoring the Hogs penalty kill in six Wilkes-Barre/Scranton attempts. He was named the game’s first star, followed by Martinsen and Louis.


This Week

The IceHogs enter the most crucial portion of their schedule, starting Saturday night in Milwaukee. Rockford’s next ten games are against Central Division teams currently ahead of them in the standings.

Following Saturday’s tilt with the Admirals, the Hogs visit Chicago on Sunday. With chances to climb the division ladder enough to secure a playoff spot dwindling, Rockford has to consider each match-up a must-win.

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





Everything Else

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

Hockey Stats

An eight-game losing streak. A two-goal lead squandered. Numbers are not our friend right now. To the bullets:

–We basically saw a unicorn tonight: Keith scored on a power play (a sentence I was beginning to think I’d never write). Saad also got a goal for the first time since early January. It’s hard to know which one to be more excited about, if one thinks they warrant excitement. Keith took a hard shot from the point early in the second, on a tripping penalty drawn by Top Cat (more on him later). Saad’s was exactly the type of goal he needed to maybe get his confidence going. It was off a beautiful pass from Our Cousin Vinny, and Gibson belly-flopped leaving Saad with a wide open net to just taaaaap it in. Both goals happened in the first half of the second period and things were looking up.

–And then the defensive breakdowns came. Forsberg held up well during the first, including when Keith went all shinpads which led to a breakaway that he (Forsberg) stopped. But Murphy and Kempny both fumbled and allowed turnovers that directly led to Ritchie’s and Kase’s goals. As someone who has sung the praises of both Murphy and Kempny and argued LOUDLY for them to remain in the lineup, I naturally cringed at these plays, not so much because I thought they were particularly egregious (anyone seen the play of Jordan Oesterle lately?), but because I’m afraid both will get benched for making mistakes. It certainly wasn’t their best game, not for either one of them—Murphy managed to end the night with a 55 CF% but had the bad turnover, and Kempny only finagled a 41.4 CF%. But I still don’t want to see talented guys who just need some confidence, and probably some predictability, get fucked over by the Q Double Standard. To wit, Kempny managed to lay out and break up a 3-on-1 in the first, but you know Q won’t be thinking about that when the time comes for Saturday’s lineup.

Oh, and on that note, Seabrook was a mix of dumb and unlucky on the go-ahead goal by Henrique in the third. The puck took some bizarre bounces and he was left standing there rather helplessly…think he’ll be in the press box again? Hahahaha, I know, funny joke amirite??

–The Ducks falling all over each other in an attempt to beat up Hartman, who was smart enough to not engage, was truly peak Anaheim. Hartman leveled Silfverberg late in the second but it was a clean hit. Manson & Co. couldn’t jump his ass fast enough, and despite Hartman playing it cool he still got called for roughing, which was yet another example of shitty calls not going the Hawks’ way lately. Of course it’s impossible to know what could-have-might-have happened if the Hawks had had a four-minute power play, but it was a bullshit call nonetheless.

–Foley and Eddie couldn’t stop drooling all over Tommy Wingels and Lance Bouma, but I’m here to tell you they sucked. If the Hawks were trying to showcase their wares in the trade marketplace (which I sincerely hope they were and I have to tell myself this is the reason they were playing on the top two lines), it probably backfired by reminding everyone how un-skilled they really are. I lost track of how many opportunities Bouma floundered away—a feed to Kane in the first, a pass from Hinostroza in the second, and on and on and on. The only silver lining of putting them on the top lines for this game is that thanks to the outcome, Q’s blender will dump them back in the bottom six.

–While we’re searching for silver linings, the kids once again showed us that there is hope. None of the younglings scored a goal, but Hinostroza set up Saad perfectly, he and Schmaltz had excellent speed throughout the game, and Top Cat was as good as we’ve come to expect. In the first, he was smart enough to stall on a delayed penalty while Anaheim was on a power play, effectively killing the penalty and extending what would become a Hawks power play. It’s the little things now where we have to find happiness.

–We’ve been saying it’s a goalie league, and this game was living proof. Forsberg wasn’t terrible but he got beat by Gibson being better, the latter of whom made a huge stop late in the third on Saad, and ended the night stopping 42 of 44 shots for a .955 SV%.

Well, this is where we are these days. Tonight they (again) didn’t play terribly, and for the most part they showed up and gave it the ‘ole college try. But sometimes it’s not enough, and this is one of those times. Onward and upward.

Everything Else

Box Score

Hockey Stats

Natural Stat Trick

The Blackhawks visited Sin City tonight, and what they did in the third period was certainly sinful. That sentence sucked let’s just get to the bullets:

– Overall I actually didn’t think this was that bad of a hockey game on the Hawks part, especially given the lineup Q went with. I will give him immense credit for finally laying his pride down and scratching Jordan Oesterle, but he went two moves too far in scratching Duclair and Hinostroza to re-introduce Sharp and Hartman to the lineup. I understand that something had to be done after yesterday’s shellacking at the hands of an ECHL team, but Duclair and Hinostroza have both been damn near excellent since they’ve been in the lineup. It would have made immensely more sense to swap out Bouma and Wingels, but instead Wingels somehow found himself on the top line and Bouma still got to hold DeBrincat back. My only possible excuse for this lineup construction is that Q is either trying to get fired or really wants to coach Rasmus Dahlin next year.

– To stay on the last bullet for one more beat, part of me wonders if keeping Bouma and Wingels in the lineup, and putting them with good players, isn’t part of a directive from above as they continue to dangle those two in trade talks. You’re not gonna get much for either, but then again Brandon Bollig got you a third round pick a few years ago. Nothing wrong with trying to pump those tires a bit more before you try to sell them. Then again, it could just be Q doing what Q does. Neither would surprise me.

– We know that the defense and goaltending have been major issues, but tonight was another indication of how bad the offense has been as well. CSN had a graphic last night showing how the Blackhawks have scored the least goals in the NHL since January 10, and tonight was another really tough showing for them. They never really got any really good chances, and certainly not as many as they gave up to the Knights. But with another 2-goal game, they’ve managed to score more than a pair of goals just three games since Jan. 10 and just seven times since The New Year. So there’s more too it than just the bad defense and goaltending. However…

– The bad defense and goaltending really proved to be their undoing in this game, and especially the third period. The Hawks took a 2-1 lead into the third, and while it didn’t feel like the most secure lead in the world, it was still a lead. They gave up a PP goal to bring the game level, which I’m willing to forgive them for because the Knights moved the puck really well to open a shooting lane and Glass had two bodies screening him. But then Erik Gustafsson left the whole slot wide open for Reilly Smith to walk in and fire, and the GWG was had. And then to really finish things off, after a turnover in the neutral zone, Glass let a shot by him that he definitely should not have, and any glimmer of a comeback was dashed away. And what’s sad is that, as Sam has pointed out on Twitter over the past few nights, people got so used to complaining about Crawford every time he didn’t completely steal a game for them, that they didn’t even know what really bad goaltending looked like. And this is it, in all its glory.

– John touched on this yesterday, but it bears repeating after his performance again tonight – Alex DeBrincat’s ability to elevate the bad players around him is truly special. He was with Hartman and Bouma for a good portion of the night and ended up with Sharp at times as well. And yet he was able to create some pretty good offense and still found the back of the net after he and Sharp showed a little persistence. It wasn’t the best game overall for Top Cat – his Corsi wasn’t good and he was also the culprit on the turnover before Vegas’ fourth goal – but he’s showing that he’s a special player and he is going to be really good for this team moving forward.

– We’re one step closer to Rasmus Dahlin, folks. Always find the silver lining.

Everything Else

In the infancy of this Blackhawks era, one of the litmus tests I came across for whether you were a “real fan” was to know who Éric Dazé was. With his hulking hockey body, high expectations, and myriad injuries, Dazé inhabited the intersection of “good enough to know” and “not good enough for bandwagoners to know,” serving as a marker between the bona fides of bandwagon fans and fans “who had always been fans,” which is an eternal pissing contest that’s about as dumb as having Jordin Tootoo on your roster. Now, I’m hearing more and more rumblings about local boy John Hayden, with his hulking hockey body and high expectations, and I wonder, “Who is John Hayden, and will he be another Dazé measuring stick 20 years from now?”

2016–17 Stats

12 GP – 1 G, 3 A, 4 P

52.7 CF%, 61.9 oZS%, 38.1 dZS%

ATOI: 11:41

A Look Back: The Blackhawks signed Hayden to an entry-level contract last year, which our fearless leader Fels pegged as a move caused by being once bitten, twice shy over stairwell-shitter and professional thumb impersonator Kevin Hayes dumping the Hawks for the Rangers in 2014. When he came up in March last year, there were plaudits for his size and worries over his speed, but he managed to look OK over 12 games: a little bit better than “a guy” but certainly not a Dazé.

The most noticeable thing about Hayden after his size (6’3”, 223) was his much-improved skating. He even found himself on a line with Toews every so often, which is where he scored his first and only NHL goal. While his 4 points over 12 games is a far cry from the 34 in 33 he put up at Yale before his quick call up, the ECAC (which is the conference Yale plays in) isn’t typically a hotbed for hockey prospects.

There might be some promise in his CF%, which was 1.4% better than the team rate last year, but he only played 12 games and spent most of that time in the offensive zone. And you have to wonder whether Hayden is projected to be a “start in the offensive zone” kind of guy.

A Look Ahead: Given the likes of Saad, Schmaltz, Sharp, Wiener Anxiety, and DeBrincat, who figure to slot in and out of the top 2 lines, it’s less likely you’ll see Hayden up there. Though with DeBrincat getting into a fight at a fucking prospect tournament to show just how low his nuts swing, it’s possible that Q expects DeBrincat to SHOW MORE, which could open up a spot for Professor Hayden, who’s smart enough to see what a terrible fucking idea that would be.

For now, Johnny “The Brain” Hayden (sky point Bobby) figures to fight for a spot in the lower half of the lineup, but the only guys I’d take him over are Wingels and Tootoo, two of the suckiest bunch of sucks who ever sucked. Maybe if he impresses, he lines up on the right side on the 4th line, but then what? Q historically uses his 4th line as a defensive zone plug, and nowhere throughout his career has Hayden shown a talent or propensity for that. Hayden has made a name for himself by being the fat kid on the Kenny Hubbs team who threw 70 mph because he hit puberty at 9. That advantage goes away in the NHL.

Barring some sort of epiphany or major injury, Hayden probably slates to start the year in Rockford. If he can exceed what he did at Yale there, maybe he finds a spot on the bottom half, but again, it’s tough to see whom he replaces, since we don’t have any evidence that he can or will play the left side. But he is just 22, and he did show dedication to improving his skating at Yale, so it’s possible that he can mold his game to play as a right-handed left winger, replacing a guy like Lance Bouma if he ends up making me eat crow for believing in him. (Is this what it’s like to be a disappointed dad?)

So who is John Hayden? Hayden is a big, smart boy, but he’s no Dazé. He probably won’t be more than an answer to a trivia question in a few years (Who was the 20th Yale Bulldog to crack an NHL roster?). He’s the Atlas Shrugged of hockey players: not nearly as great as his proponents say, an overhyped tome of theoretical muck whose pedigree rests mostly on his size and standing out among the mediocre.

At least he’s got a sort of Hasselhoff handsomeness to him.

Stats retrieved from hockey-reference.com

Previous Player Previews

Corey Crawford

Anton Forsberg

Duncan Keith

Connor Murphy

Michal Kempný

Brent Seabrook

Gustav Forsling

The 6th D-Man

Artem Anisimov 

Lance Bouma

Laurent Dauphin

Alex DeBrincat

Ryan Hartman

Everything Else

Anyone who’s had the pleasure of watching the last decade of Hawks hockey is familiar with the salary cap shuffle the Hawks have to do every so often (and yes, it’ll be 10 years this year since Patrick Timothy Kane II took his first shift with the Hawks). Like a teary-eyed Lisa watching Mr. Bergstrom chug off into the distance, we’ve waved goodbye to a bevy of talented players either in or just approaching their primes. And so it goes this year, with the losses of defensive unicorn Marcus Kruger and a serviceable lower-line defensive forward in Dr. Rasmussen. One of the answers to the question, “How do we replace the defensive depth in our bottom half,” is former Flame Lance Bouma.

2016–17 Stats

61 GP – 3 G, 4 A, 7 P

45.9 CF%, 32.4 oZS%, 67.6 dZS%

ATOI: 11:21

A Look Back: The former 3rd round pick did yeoman’s work last year, with a paltry 7 points over 61 games. His ice-time average and CF% imply that he was an energy guy, somewhere between late-career ruptured hemorrhoid Raffi Torres and off-the-ice-good-guy Danny Carcillo. In fact, his CF% last year looks bad not only on its own but also relatively, with an abysmal -5.8 CF% Rel.

But there’s a massive rub in those stats: Unlike your typical energy guys, Bouma has ALWAYS lived in the defensive zone.

Last year saw him in his own zone more than two-thirds of the time, which is approximately the amount of time one would spend on the toilet after having a $5 Box and a Crave Case for lunch. And that’s what Calgary often asked him to do: consume garbage zone starts and evacuate the puck from the bowels of his own zone.

Even more interesting are Bouma’s career zone-start stats: Over 304 career games, Bouma has started in his own zone 61.8% of the time. The only year in which he had more offensive zone starts was his rookie year, and he only played 16 games that year. Compare that to Kruger’s 368-game, 70.5 dZS% clip. None of this is to say that Bouma is a one-to-one replacement for Kruger, because the comparative career CF% Rels are canyons apart (Bouma’s at -4.8, Kruger’s at -1.7), but given that Bouma was on some bad Flames teams, even those comparisons aren’t entirely square.

Perhaps the most exciting thing to look at with Bouma is a stat called Corsi Rel QoC, which, in short, ranks Corsi in terms of the quality of the guys a player was up against (negative numbers meaning he was sheltered, higher and positive numbers meaning he faced stiffer competition). From 2013–2016, which is both as current as I could find and reflective of years in which Bouma played at least half of the Flames’s games, Bouma had the following Corsi Rel QoC ratings:


Games Played

Corsi Rel QoC














*The site I used only tracked him through 43 games. Bouma played 44 that year.

Looking at the table, in years in which Bouma played an assload, he spent a lot of time against his opponents’ better lines (save 15–16, where he played against essentially average guys). And 2014–15 should make the ol’ crotchal region tighter, moister, or some combination thereof for all Hawks fans. In 2014–15, Bouma not only faced higher-tier opposition but also scored 34 points (16 G, 18A) while averaging about 14 minutes a game. (While that year may be an outlier, hope springs eternal.)

Compare that to comparable Kruger years:


Games Played

Corsi Rel QoC














*The site I used only tracked him through 39 games. Kruger played 41 that year.

But what kind of Internet writer would I be if I didn’t come stomping and shitting all over the newfound optimism I’d set you up for? Because there’s a catch to all of this, and we can find it in another advanced stat that lives in the dungeon called Corsi Rel QoT, which is a measure of the quality of teammates a given player had while on the ice (higher numbers representing stronger teammates, lower numbers representing beer rats who “deked Montoya dat one time”).

Have a look at Bouma . . .


Off. Zone Start %

Off. Zone End %

Corsi Rel QoT













. . .who did a good job of flipping the ice with teammates who weren’t world beaters.

And Kruger . . .


Off. Zone Start %

Off. Zone End %

Corsi Rel QoT













. . . who not only turned the ice at obscene rates but also did it while skating with actual Shoot the Puck contestants.

A Look Ahead: So what does it all mean, Basil? Aside from expending over 1,000 words on a guy who might only play handful of games, it means that Bouma could be a decent turning-the-ice sieve if necessary. Yes, we had to go back a few years to find evidence, and yes, he was kind of a pit last year, but what’s the point of being a fan if you can’t be optimistic? Bouma’s underlying numbers and past performance could let slip the hogs of war (or whatever farm animal of war, Lana, shut up) on the Hawks’s lower half.

I suspect that Bouma will get a shot on the 4th line to start, albeit from a wing if we assume that Schmaltz and Working Class Kero are going to line up down the middle. It’s plausible to find him on the PK as the 2b option, behind the likes of Toews, Saad, and Kero, given that he averaged 1:36 there in Calgary last year, but that would likely speak to a supreme lack of trust and depth for the PK, since most Calgary followers say Bouma sucked at it.

It’d be silly to expect Bouma to replicate 2014–15, since he hasn’t since. But there is precedent for success there, and if he can come anywhere near it, his $1 million cap hit will look like a steal.

He may not pass the eye test, and he may be on a decline, but I’m a sucker for guys people doubt. I’ll be the first to say it: I believe in Bouma.

Unlinked stats retrieved from hockey-reference.com

Special thanks to Behind the Net. Hopefully they all pick up tracking again soon.

Photo credit to Jeff McIntosh, via sportsnet.ca.

Previous Player Previews

Corey Crawford

Anton Forsberg

Duncan Keith

Connor Murphy

Michal Kempný

Brent Seabrook

Gustav Forsling

The 6th D-Man

Artem Anisimov