Hockey

The Rockford IceHogs dropped a pair of games to the Chicago Wolves over the weekend. The piglets were blown out in the Wolves practice facility in Hoffman Estates Saturday night. The following afternoon, Rockford lost a back-and-forth affair to Chicago at the BMO Harris Bank Center.

Here are some musings on the first two of what will be four straight games with the Wolves.

  • The Hogs were never in Saturday’s 6-3 loss. Ivan Nalimov made his debut in net for Rockford and was not good at all. The Wolves were up two goals before the opening minute elapsed and led 3-0 after the first. Cody Franson, Evan Barratt, and Reese Johnson scored for the piglets.
  • Rockford had just one power play chance in Hoffman Estates. Sunday, the Hogs went three-for-five on the man advantage, which allowed then to be more competitive against the class of the Central Division.
  • In his pro debut, Josiah Slavin tied the score with a power play goal early in the third period on Sunday. 1:15 into the final frame, the score was tied 4-4. From that point on, the Hogs were out shot 11-1 over the rest of the contest, losing 5-4.
  • Barratt picked up another goal in Sunday’s loss, his fourth of the season. Barratt has eleven points in 18 games (4 G, 7 A) and is on a three-game point streak. Dylan McLaughlin and Wyatt Kalynuk also caught cord for Rockford.
  • Franson had a three-point weekend and has a four-game point streak going. He is atop the Hogs in points with 14 (4 G, 10 A).
  • Andrei Altybarmakyan sat out the weekend. Hopefully it’s nothing long-term, as he’s been a bright spot in terms of Hawks prospects.
  • Matt Tomkins didn’t fare much better than Nalimov in net in Sunday’s defeat. He was victimized by a couple of deflections, but misplayed a puck behind his net which led to the game-winner from the Wolves Jamieson Rees.
  • Tomkins is still deserving of the bulk of Rockford’s work load in net. That said, I would really like to see rookie Cale Morris (1.72 GAA, .956 save percentage in three appearances) get a chance to face down the Wolves in one of the IceHogs next two games.
  • Chad Yetman, who had a goal in Rockford’s first game of the season, was sent to the Indy Fuel on Friday. The IceHogs also sent D Dimitry Osipov to their ECHL affiliate. Cliff Watson returns to the Fuel after Rockford released him from his PTO. The Blackhawks also assigned Brad Morrison (3 G, 2 A in six games for the Hogs) to Indy Friday.
  • Mikael Hakkarainen is one of several Chicago prospects to yo-yo between Rockford and Chicago’s taxi squad. Hakkarainen has appeared in just six games for the IceHogs this season. Currently in his second season of his entry contract, Hakkarainen is pointless in 14 games for his pro career.
  • Brandon Pirri and Alec Regula also were recalled to the taxi squad, with forwards MacKenzie Entwistle and Reese Johnson and defensemen Wyatt Kalynuk, Lucas Carlsson, and Ian Mitchell coming down to Rockford for the weekend’s action.
  • John Quenneville has struggled to produce on the offensive end this season. In twelve games, he has just one goal and one assist. Quenneville has spent most of the campaign dealing with nagging injuries. He took a big hit against the Wolves on Saturday and was out of the lineup on Sunday.
  • Rockford finishes March with a 5-5 record and is 6-11-1 overall. They are currently 0-5 against the Wolves this season. The Hogs will attempt to pick up that elusive first win over Chicago on the road Saturday night.

Follow me @JonFromi on twitter for news and opinions on the IceHogs throughout the season.

Hockey

The Rockford IceHogs have a couple of home games this week as they continue to play for their first win of the 2020-21 campaign. The piglets collected a standings point Saturday but fell in overtime in Iowa.

Despite a 0-2-1 start, the beginning of the season has been good to a couple of players who seem to be intent on taking advantage of available minutes. One such player is forward Chad Yetman.

Yetman is Chicago’s sixth-round pick in this past summer’s draft. In normal circumstances, he probably would have finished out his junior career with the Erie Otters of the OHL. With that league currently on hiatus, Yetman signed an AHL deal with the IceHogs on January 11.

Yetman led Erie with 43 goals in 61 games last season. So far, taking the chance to jump up to the AHL and make a grab at playing time has paid off. Yetman has appeared in all three games with Rockford and posted his first pro goal in a February 9 loss to the Wolves.

Yetman racked up a pair of assists in the first period of what eventually became a 3-2 overtime loss to Iowa on Saturday. His three points are tied with Cody Franson for the team lead in the early stages of the season. Yetman has also found a spot on Rockford’s first power play unit.

With several Blackhawks prospects up getting NHL minutes or sitting on the taxi squad, there are opportunities for a player like Yetman to impress the team brass and earn an entry contract. That’s a path current Hawks forward Andrew Shaw navigated back in 2011 when he signed an AHL deal with Rockford.

Yetman’s a different type of player from Shaw, but he’s off to a nice start to the season.

 

Roster Moves

Chicago made a couple of paper moves in order to keep the required four players on their taxi squad. Evan Barratt was recalled to the taxi squad Thursday and returned to Rockford Friday.

Barratt, who took a high hit from Wolves defenseman Max Lajoie last Tuesday, finished that game and skated in Iowa Saturday night.

Forward Mikael Hakkarainen made the phantom trip to the taxi squad on Saturday and was reassigned to the Hogs on Sunday. Also coming down to Rockford was forward MacKenzie Entwistle, who had 26 points (11 G, 15 A) for the IceHogs in his rookie season.

With several players, like Shaw, on the injured list at the moment, it should not be a surprise to see other Hawks prospects getting similar treatment in regard to short-term call-ups.

 

Disappointment In DesMoines

Saturday, February 13-Iowa 3, Rockford 2 (OT)

The IceHogs picked up their first point of the season. However, Rockford let a two-goal lead slip away to end the night on a disappointing note.

Rockford drew first cord 3:39 into the game. The goal came from the stick of Brad Morrison, playing in his first game for the Hogs this season. Morrison was able to toss the puck into the Wild zone and head to the net while Chad Yetman chased it down. Yetman’s centering pass was on the mark; Morrison flipped the dish over Iowa goalie Dereck Baribeau to light the lamp.

Morrison got his second goal of the season a bit later in the opening frame. Yetman brought the puck out of the defensive zone and found Mitchell Fossier down the left side of the ice with the entry pass. Fossier took a shot from the left dot that glanced off of the skate of Iowa defenseman Fedov Gordeev. The puck bounced off Baribeau’s mask and into the crease, where Morrison scooted it to the back of the net. The IceHogs led 2-0 at the 13:37 mark and took that advantage into the intermission.

A couple of miscues allowed the Wild to draw even in the second period. Gabriel Dumont finished an odd-man rush at the 5:58 mark following a loss of a board battle in neutral ice. Later in the period, a Cole Moberg pass was picked off in the high slot during four-on-four action. Damien Giroux crashed the net, knocking in the rebound of Adam Beckman’s shot past IceHogs goalie Matt Tomkins to make it a 2-2 game at 9:52 of the second.

The action slowed in the final twenty minutes, with neither team finding the net. Rockford ended the last 1:10 of regulation and the first 50 seconds of overtime with a man advantage, but couldn’t cash in. Tomkins denied Will Bitten on a penalty shot after John Quenneville was forced to take him down on a breakaway chance.

The Wild won the resulting faceoff in the Rockford zone, and the IceHogs never touched the puck again. Beckman wound up with a shot from the top of the left circle that got under the glove of Tomkins, ending the contest.

Tomkins stopped 33 of 36 shots for Rockford and was a big reason the Hogs were able to come away with a standings point. Garrett Mitchell squared off with Dumont in an even bout midway through the third period after a big hit on the Wild forward.

Three Stars-Beckman, Morrison, Giroux.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Mitchell Fossier-Chad Yetman-Brad Morrison

Andrei Altybarmakyan-Dylan McLaughlin-John Quenneville (A)

Evan Barrett-Matej Chalupa-Chris Wilkie

Gabriel Gagne-Garrett Mitchell (C)-Tim Soderlund

Chad Krys-Cody Franson (A)

Alec Regula-Dimitry Osipov

Issak Phillips-Cole Moberg

Matt Tomkins

Cale Morris

Power Play (0-2)

Barratt-Quenneville-Yetman-Regula-Franson

Penalty Kill (Iowa was 0-4)

Forwards-Mitchell-Quenneville-McLaughlin-Wilkie-Chalupa

Defensemen-Phillips-Moberg-Osipov-Regula

 

This Week

Rockford has two weeknight home dates coming up. Tuesday, the Hogs face the undefeated Chicago Wolves. On Thursday, the Grand Rapids Griffins come to the BMO Harris Bank Center. Both games are set to start at 6:00 p.m.

Follow me @JonFromi on twitter for game updates, news, and thoughts on the IceHogs throughout the sesaon.

Hockey

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.