Everything Else

The Rockford IceHogs, like their parent organization, are currently riding a four-game winning streak. The Blackhawks AHL affiliate put together a pair of victories over the weekend; the current streak is the longest of the 2018-19 campaign for the Hogs.

Following Saturday’s overtime win in Milwaukee, Rockford has six straight games at the BMO Harris Bank Center over the next two weeks. The IceHogs have been much better in their own building this season, with a .568 home points percentage versus a .481 mark on the road. If there is an opportune time to make a push up the Central Division standings, it is now.

At press time, Rockford (21-19-3-5) is in seventh place in the division standings with a .521 points percentage. The Hogs sit right behind San Antonio (.522) and are withing striking distance of Texas and Milwaukee, who occupies the fourth playoff spot in the Central.


Roster Activity

On Tuesday, forward Brett Welychka was recalled from the Indy Fuel. Welychka, whose last game in Rockford was November 20, skated for the Hogs in Milwaukee Saturday night.

A bigger move was make on Wednesday, with defenseman Henri Jokiharju coming to Rockford from the Blackhawks. The 19-year-old rookie was very noticable over the weekend. Jokiharju picked up his first goal twelve minutes into his Hogs debut Friday, then led Rockford with nine shots on goal against the Admirals Saturday.

Jokiharju’s arrival comes at a good time. Joni Tuulola has been out of the lineup the last few weeks. Luc Snuggerud hasn’t played for almost three months. Brandon Davidson last played on January 21. Blake Hillman took a nasty fall into the boards Friday night. The team has indicated that Hillman, who did not skate Saturday, wasn’t seriously hurt.

That’s good news, but the fact is that the blueline is still banged up. Rockford can benefit from a talented puck-mover like Jokiharju as they try and pick up points in the coming weeks.


Hogs Of Note

William Pelletier had goals in both wins this weekend. In 16 games since returning from offseason surgery, the 5’7” forward has four goals and four assists. He’s also a plus-seven in those games.

Terry Broadhurst has a five-game point streak going and chipped in with a pair of helpers in Friday’s win. He also assisted on Pelletier’s goal on Saturday night.

Rookie Lucas Carlsson was paired with Jokiharju on Friday to form what could be an exciting duo in the coming weeks. Carlsson has points in his last four games. In his last four contests, Luke Johnson has four points (2 G, 2 A).

Until the roster is changed through trade or assignments by the Blackhawks, Rockford needs contributions throughout the lineup. The Hogs have managed to put together some solid team efforts in the course of the four-game winning streak.


Friday, February 1-Rockford 5, Chicago 2

The IceHogs matched a season high in picking up their third win in a row. A trio of second-period goals paved the way for the victory in this Illinois Lottery Cup tilt.

Chicago’s Daniel Carr got the Wolves on the board 3:13 into the contest with his 22nd goal of the season. That lead survived until the 12:30 mark, when Henri Jokiharju drew cord for his first North American professional goal.

Jordan Schroeder fed Jokiharju for an initial attempt from the right point. That shot did not get through, striking Jacob Nilsson and coming back out to the rookie defenseman. The second offering got by Wolves goalie Oscar Dansk and into the net.

Rockford took a 2-1 advantage on an Alexandre Fortin goal 2:54 into the second period, then doubled that lead a few minutes later. William Pelletier got open in the slot and punched Terry Broadhurst’s centering pass off the right post and into the cage at the 6:19 mark.

In the 12th minute, Viktor Ejdsell got control of a loose puck in the Wolves zone, skated to the slot and sent an attempt off the pads of Dansk. Ejdsell gathered in his own rebound and sent a successful shot past Dansk to make it 4-1 Rockford. At that point, Dansk gave way to backup Zach Fucale.

Chicago got a power play goal from Gage Quinney late in the period, but that was as close as the game got. Fortin added his second goal of the evening with an empty netter in the final minute.

Rockford defenseman Blake Hillman took a head-first spill behind the boards in the first period and was taken from the ice to the locker room. The Hogs played with five defensemen the rest of the way.


Saturday, February 2-Rockford 3, Milwaukee 2 (OT)

For over 40 minutes, the game was a scoreless affair, something that has been typical of the action with Milwaukee this season. The Hogs let a two-goal lead slip away in the third period but regrouped to post a fourth-straight victory.

The first goal of the contest came 2:40 into the third period. Andreas Martinsen hauled in a pass from Darren Raddysh behind the Ads net. Martinsen powered to the front of the net before he lost the handle on the puck. Dylan Sikura was on hand to throw the biscuit past Milwaukee goalie Troy Groesnick for the lead.

Rockford went up 2-0 midway through the final frame on a bit of good fortune. Alexandre Fortin hustled to negate an icing call on the Hogs, then slid the puck behind the Admirals net. Terry Broadhurst sent it to the left circle; Lucas Carlsson got a stick on it before William Pelletier got control. The subsequent backhand centering attempt glanced off of the skate of Milwaukee’s Scott Savage and past Grosenick at 12:18 of the third.

The Ads had plenty of fight left, rallying to tie the game with late goals by Eeli Tolvanen and Yakov Trenin, who redirected a Vince Perdie blast between the pads of Hogs goalie Anton Forsberg with 43 seconds left in regulation.

Rockford had the last say in this one. In Gus Macker Time, Jordan Schroeder brought the puck into the Milwaukee zone and was able to wait for his fellow Hogs to get into position. Schroeder hit Raddysh coming into the right slot. Raddysh lifted a shot over Grosenick’s glove to end the contest in favor of the IceHogs.


Coming Up

The IceHogs have a couple of non-divisional opponents visiting the BMO this week. First up is Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, who comes a-calling on Wednesday night. Tucson arrives for a two-game weekend set Friday and Saturday.

Follow me @JonFromi on twitter for my Hogs-related musings throughout the season.






Everything Else

The Rockford IceHogs are currently riding a three-game winning streak for the first time this season. The piglets are 7-2-1 over their last ten games heading into the holidays. Of those ten games, eight were decided by a single goal, either in regulation or via overtime or a shootout.

Each of the IceHogs victories in the current streak are of the one-goal variety. After besting Grand Rapids 2-1 back on December 16, Rockford has defeated Milwaukee (4-3) and Chicago (5-4) with clutch overtime goals.

In fact, Rockford’s last nine wins this season, dating back to November 9, have all been by one goal. The last time the winning margin was more than one was in Iowa on November 4, when the Hogs posted a 4-2 victory.

In that stretch, the IceHogs have also lost four games by one goal. Credit the play in goal for keeping Rockford competitive in the bulk of its games.


Points vs Points Percentage

Heading into post-Christmas action, Rockford is in sixth place in the Central Division with a .581 points percentage. The Hogs (15-10-2-4) have earned 36 points so far in 2018-19. So why not regale you with points as opposed to points percentage? Simple. The AHL standard is points percentage.

In part because the West Coast clubs play only 68 games, rather than the 76 everyone else plays, the four teams with the highest points percentage qualify for the Calder Cup Playoffs. Of course, the silly AHL website lists the teams according to points when the standings are shown.

I like going by points percentage, which takes most of the games-in-hand calculations out of the mix. If the season ended today, the IceHogs would not be a playoff team. The good news for Rockford is that Texas (.586), along with Milwaukee and Grand Rapids (.594) are within reach, so upward mobility is achievable.


Derek King’s Punchout

Rockford, as I mentioned last week, is the least-penalized team in the league. It’s interesting, however, to take a look at the fighting side of that ledger. The Hogs aren’t the roughest bunch of wranglers in the AHL, but they certainly have been a little quicker to drop the gloves under coach Derek King.

Last season, the IceHogs drew just 11 fighting majors. This was an all-time franchise low by a wide margin (the previous low was 2017-17’s 39 FMs) and the lowest in the AHL. Through the first 12 games of this season, under Jeremy Colliton, Rockford skaters had been involved in three fights. In 96 regular season games and 13 playoff contests, Colliton’s team picked up 14 fights.

In the first 19 games of the King regime, the Hogs have been been in seven fights. That equates to a full season total of 28 fights, still a paltry number even by recent league standards. Compared to Colliton, however, King is helming the Rock’em Sock’em Robots.

As I’ve mentioned countless times, AHL fight totals are dropping and the IceHogs have not been built to scrap. As a matter of fact, Rockford is better off avoiding such activities, as they are largely inexperienced in this area. However, it does appear that this year’s club is sticking up for itself with more frequency. The Hogs are currently tied for 16th in the AHL (with five other clubs) with 10 FMs on the season.

Two of those fights involved Hunter Fejes, who is no longer with the team after a stint on a PTO. Dennis Gilbert, who has brought a physical element to the defense, leads Rockford with four fights.


Roster Moves

On Saturday, the Blackhawks recalled Jacob Nilsson and sent Luke Johnson back to Rockford.



Friday, December 21-Rockford 5, Chicago 4 (OT)

For the third time this season, the Hogs ventured into Allstate Arena and beat the Wolves. This time, it took a good portion of extra skating to do so.

The teams exchanged goals midway through the opening period. Chicago’s T.J. Tynan created a scoring opportunity with some nice skating with the puck, opening up space for Nic Hauge at the top of the right circle. Hauge sent a bullet past Hogs goalie Anton Forsberg to give the Wolves a 1-0 lead at the 10:40 mark.

Nathan Noel was held behind the Chicago net by Jake Bischoff soon after, sending the Hogs to the power play. Rockford won the subsequent faceoff, kept the puck in the offensive zone for over a minute and scored on a one-timer by Jacob Nilsson. The rookie center had misfired on a centering pass from Jordan Schroeder, who then regained possession and found Nilsson again for a successful attempt at 12:58 of the period.

Alexandre Fortin got his first two goals of the season for Rockford in the opening minutes of the second period. After Lucas Carlsson made a heads up play to keep a clearing attempt in the Wolves zone, he passed to William Pelletier, who found Fortin open skating toward the right dot. Fortin’s shot banked off of Chicago’s Zach Whitecloud and past Wolves goalie Maxim Lagace 36 seconds into the period.

Minutes later, Fortin skated into the slot and sent an offering to the Chicago net. The rebound rattled around the front of the net before Noel and Graham Knott knocked it toward the left post. Fortin, who was crashing the net after shooting, was on hand to guide the puck into the open net for a 3-1 Rockford advantage.

Chicago would rally with a pair of goals to tie the contest. Curtis McKenzie got open in the slot and fired past Forsberg at the 9:11 mark. Five minutes later, Daniel Carr jumped on a rebound of a Whitecloud blast to knot the game at three.

The score remained tied until the late stages of regulation. Lucas Carlsson took a feed from Nilsson, used a couple of nifty moves to get open in the slot and fired low past Lagace’s glove side with 3:31 to play. The Wolves pulled Lagace soon after.

Graham Knott had a prime chance to ice the game with the puck on his stick and an empty net in front of him. However, Chicago’s Dylan Coughlin closed the gap on Knott and forced an off-target attempt. The Wolves came down and got the equalizer from Gage Quinney with 1:26 left.

Gus Macker Time saw the Wolves with early momentum. Forsberg turned aside several attempts over the first four minutes. Late in the extra session, Louis brought the puck into the Chicago zone on a two-on-one rush. Louis hit Darren Raddysh with a pass at the right circle; the defenseman’s one-timer caught cord with 39 seconds remaining to finish off the Wolves.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Alexandre Fortin-Tyler Sikura (A)-William Pelletier

Nick Moutrey-Graham Knott-Nathan Noel

Anthony Louis-Jacob Nilsson-Jordan Schroeder (A)

Terry Broadhurst-Henrik Samuelsson

Lucas Carlsson-Jan Rutta

Joni Tuulola-Dennis Gilbert

Blake Hillman-Darren Raddysh

Andrew Campbell (A)

Anton Forsberg

Power Play (1-2)



Penalty Kill (Chicago was 0-2)





This Week

The IceHogs will spend Boxing Day in DesMoines, taking on the Wild Wednesday night. On Friday, Rockford begins a home-and-home weekend against the Wolves at the BMO Harris Bank Center. The action moves to Rosemont on Saturday night.

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


Everything Else

The Rockford IceHogs put a positive finish on what was a tough stretch for the Blackhawks AHL affiliate. The IceHogs were blown out at the BMO Harris Bank Center by the Chicago Wolves to start a three-in-three weekend. Rockford recovered to take a point in Milwaukee before knocking off the Wolves Sunday at Allstate Arena.

The win broke a six-game losing streak for the piglets and saw them hit the three-goal mark in a contest for the first time since November 10. Incidentally, Rockford defeated Chicago 4-3 that day in Rosemont.

The IceHogs (9-8-1-4) are fifth in the Central Division standings with a .523 points percentage. They could move up the ladder this week despite being inactive until Saturday night, when they host Milwaukee. Grand Rapids (.556), just above Rockford in the standings, plays Iowa, Chicago and San Antonio this week.


Putting The Feet Up

After playing ten of 13 November games on the road, the IceHogs will be settling in for a nice home stand to begin December. Rockford will be at the BMO exclusively for four games over the next two weeks. The Hogs visit Grand Rapids December 14, then return to Rockford for three more home games.

The Hogs were 5-3-0-2 on the road in November. Oddly enough, home cooking did not agree with the piglets. Rockford lost all three home games played this month. With seven of the next eight at the BMO, hopefully the boys can reverse that trend.

IceHogs coach Derek King welcomes the chance to unpack his suitcase. “We got a whole week of practice, then we’ve got a little home stand, so it will be nice to get home,” King said following Rockford’s 3-2 win in Rosemont. “I know my wife will be happy, being around the kids, too.”

“I think these guys need it. They need a little R and R; they need to get away from the rink, too. So, we’ll think about Monday off and maybe we’ll look for another day off during the week.”

There are several players on the mend in Rockford. Terry Boadhurst has missed a couple of weeks now and would be a nice addition when he returns. Collin Delia (see below) tweaked his leg Saturday night and could use the time to be recovered for the upcoming home games.

Roster Moves

On Saturday night, goalie Kevin Lankinen was recalled to Rockford. Collin Delia, who played the third period Friday and the entirety of the Hogs shootout loss in Milwaukee Saturday, suffered a lower body injury that kept him from suiting up in Sunday’s game with Chicago. Lankinen backed up Anton Forsberg in that game.

King hinted that Delia was being rested as a precaution. With nearly a week off, it would seem likely that he’ll be back in action this weekend.

Also returning to the IceHogs was forward Luke Johnson. The Blackhawks re-assigned Johnson to Rockford Sunday. He started for the Hogs against the Wolves, potting the game-winner early in the third period.

Johnson could be a spark for coach Derek King and the piglets as they enter the month of December. An alternate captain for much of his sophomore season in Rockford, Johnson will contribute at both ends as well as on both special teams.


A Quick Word On Last Night’s Trade News

The Blackhawks sent Nick Schmaltz to Arizona yesterday. In return, Chicago received forwards Dylan Strome and Brendan Perlini. I wouldn’t expect either player to make an appearance for the IceHogs in the near future (both players are waiver-exempt). However, it wouldn’t be a stretch to think Strome might wind up in Rockford for a spell.

Strome did play in the AHL for Tucson last season, putting up 53 points (22 G, 31 A) in 50 games for the Roadrunners. Perlini spent 17 games in Tucson back in 2016-17. He had 14 goals and five assists in his time in the AHL.

Strome, in particular, needs to show he can utilize his skills at the game’s highest level despite a lack of speed. There are plenty of first and second-round draft picks bouncing around the AHL who can dominate offensively but lack the skill set to do the same in NHL rinks. Here’s hoping Strome, who is still just a 21-year-old kid, can make that jump with the Blackhawks.


Friday, November 23-Chicago 7, Rockford 2

The losing streak reached five games as the visiting Wolves broke out in a big way against Rockford.

Chicago took a 1-0 lead when Hogs starter Anton Forsberg lost track of the puck following a shot on goal by Reid Duke. Forsberg believed he had the shot absorbed by his pads, but instead the puck trickled next to him for Curtis McKenzie to guide into the Rockford net at 4:39.

The IceHogs tied the game at the 8:25 mark with the teams skating four to a side. Anthony Louis took a drop pass from Jordan Schroeder along the left half boards, skated to the bottom of the left circle, and five-holed Wolves goalie Max Lagace.

The game began to get away from Rockford late in the opening frame. McKenzie and Schroeder took simultaneous roughing minors and the teams played four-on-four for two minutes. By the time the two veterans came out of the box, it was 3-1 Chicago.

Tomas Hyka made a slick feed to Zach Whitecloud coming down the slot; the shot got past the blocker of Forsberg, glanced off the left post, and put the Wolves up 2-1 at 17:07 of the first. Seconds later, Brandon Pirri went coast-to-coast with a Hogs turnover. The former Blackhawks farmhand capped off a marvelous play by going stick side on Forsberg at the 17:45 mark.

The Wolves took a 4-1 advantage when Nic Hauge finished off an odd-man rush at 3:42 of the second period. Rockford closed to 4-2 on a power play goal by Darren Raddysh, who took advantage of a Viktor Ejdsell screen. At that point, the bottom dropped out of the IceHogs game.

Chicago restored the three-goal advantage 35 seconds later, converting off a Blake Hillman turnover. Zac Leslie scored on a redirect for a 5-2 Wolves lead. Pirri fed Hyka in the left slot for a power play goal at the 12:11 mark, then Keegan Kolesar finished a 2-on-1 rush up the ice 18 seconds later to make it 7-2 Wolves.

Collin Delia entered the game for Forsberg to start the third period. Rockford out shot Chicago 16-13 in garbage time, though neither team made a dent in the score over the last 20 minutes.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Dylan Sikura-Tyler Sikura (A)-Jacob Nilsson

Matheson Iacopelli-Graham Knott-Henrik Samuelsson

Viktor Ejdsell-Jordan Schroeder-Anthony Louis

Hunter Fejes-Nathan Noel-Nick Moutrey

Darren Raddysh-Joni Tuulola

Carl Dahlstrom (A)-Blake Hillman

Dennis Gilbert-Andrew Campbell (A)

Anton Forsberg

Collin Delia

Power Play (1-4)



Penalty Kill (Chicago was 1-6, Hogs did kill off two 5-on-3s)


T. Sikura-Nilsson-Campbell-Hillman



Saturday, November 24-Milwaukee 2, Rockford 1 (SO)

Collin Delia turned away all but one of the 29 shots he faced, but Milwaukee’s Troy Grosenick was his equal in regulation and came up with the stops in the shootout. The IceHogs dropped their sixth-straight decision in frustrating fashion.

Matheson Iacopelli was the recipient of a turnover by Ads goalie Troy Grosenick. Taking Grosenick’s outlet attempt at the right circle, Iacopelli fired into the vacated net at 3:03 for a 1-0 Rockford lead.

Seconds later, Justin Kirkland got a shot on net that glanced off the stick of Andrew Campbell and trickled under the pads of Rockford starter Collin Delia. This evened up the game at the 3:44 mark.

Both goalies shut down their respective nets through the remainder of regulation. Milwaukee had a two-man advantage in overtime after Tyler Sikura and Nathan Noel were sent to the box a minute apart. However, the Hogs held firm and forced the shootout.

Anthony Richard and Kirkland beat Delia in the first two rounds. Anthony Louis was denied by Grosenick’s right pad; Viktor Ejdsell was stopped by his left and the contest came to an end. Grosenick, who made 31 saves plus two shootout stops, was awarded the game’s First Star.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Jacob Nilsson-Tyler Sikura (A)-Henrik Samuelsson

Dylan Sikura-Graham Knott-Justin Auger

Annthony Louis-Jordan Schroeder-Viktor Ejdsell

Matheson Iacopelli-Nathan Noel-Nick Moutrey

Carl Dahlstrom (A)-Lucas Carlsson

Andrew Campbell (A)-Dennis Gilbert

Joni Tuulola-Darren Raddysh

Colin Delia

Power Play (0-7)

Nilsson-T. Sikura-D. Sikura-Auger-Dahlstrom


Penalty Kill (Admirals were 0-6)


T. Sikura-Nilsson-Campbell-Carlsson



Sunday, November 25-Rockford 3, Chicago 2

The Hogs avenged Friday’s blowout loss with a more focused effort, ending a six-game losing streak.

After killing off a pair of Chicago power plays early in the game, the IceHogs took a 1-0 lead on a Tyler Sikura goal. Sikura had set up Graham Knott at the right circle for a one-timer with an open net at which to shoot. Knott misfired and the Wolves cleared the zone. Sikura regained possession in the neutral zone, skated to the right circle and fired under the pads of Chicago goalie Max Lagace at 12:15.

Following the subsequent faceoff, the Wolves came up with an equalizer. Gage Quinney out-maneuvered Luke Johnson coming down the left side and sent a centering pass to Tomas Hyka streaking to the left post. Hyka redirected the pass by Hogs starter Anton Forsberg and into the net to make it 1-1 at the 12:47 mark.

The score stayed even until late in the second period, where the Hogs power play came up big. Viktor Ejdsell gloved a blocked pass attempt by Jordan Schroeder and brought it around the net to Anthony Louis. Louis waited it out at the right circle before hitting Ejdsell at the goal line with a pass. Ejdsell backed up a bit and went far side on Lagace to put Rockford ahead 2-1 at 18:50 of the middle frame.

The IceHogs posted a big goal early in the third. The play started when Dylan Sikura was the first man to a loose puck in the neutral zone. He backhanded a pass to Jacob Nilsson as the center was crossing the Wolves blueline. Nilsson went across the ice to Luke Johnson, who was seeing his first action for Rockford since being sent down by the Hawks.

Johnson sent a wrist shot from the top of the right circle that went past Lagace’s blocker and snuggled into the soft twine in the back of the Chicago net. The Rockford advantage was now 3-1 5:13 into the third.

Chicago closed to within a goal with 4:24 remaining with Lagace on the Wolves bench and pulled him again with just under two minutes left. Despite losing three draws in the defensive zone, Forsberg and the Hogs were able to persevere and pick up their first win since beating Chicago back on November 10.

Ejdsell, Chicago’s Reid Duke, and Johnson were named the three stars of the game. Forsberg picked up a measure of redemption with 26 saves after surrendering seven goals to the Wolves two days hence.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Dylan Sikura-Jacob Nilsson-Luke Johnson

Tyler Sikura (A)-Graham Knott-Henrik Samuelsson

Anthony Louis-Jordan Schroeder-Viktor Ejdsell

Nick Moutrey-Nathan Noel-Justin Auger

Lucas Carlsson-Carl Dahlstrom (A)

Andrew Campbell (A)-Dennis Gilbert

Joni Tuulola-Darren Raddysh

Anton Forsberg

Power Play (1-5)



Penalty Kill (Wolves were 0-4)


T. Sikura-Nilsson-Campbell-Carlsson



Follow me on twitter @JonFromi for game updates and thoughts on the IceHogs throughout the season.


Everything Else

The Rockford IceHogs hit the weekend in search of points. Points on the scoreboard and points in the AHL standings.

Entering a big three-games in three days stretch, the IceHogs are staring at two of the better teams in the Central Division. Rockford did post wins over the Chicago Wolves and Milwaukee Admirals two weeks ago. The problem is that they haven’t won since.

The IceHogs are in sixth place in the Central Division standings with a .526 points percentage. Texas (.533) and Grand Rapids (.531) sit right above Rockford.

It’s not hard to pinpoint a reason for the Hogs four-game losing streak. There’s a power outage on the offensive end. The last four games of Rockford’s road trip yielded just five goals. The only multi-goal game in that span did get them a point Tuesday in San Antonio, though the IceHogs lost that game in a shootout.

Right now, goal-tending is not a problem for the piglets. Anton Forsberg, who looks set to return from an illness, and Collin Delia have been excellent. Delia, in particular, has felt the pinch of the goal shortage. In his last seven starts, the Cucamonga Kid has posted a 2.22 goals against average and a .941 save percentage. His record in those starts is 1-3-0-3.

The Hogs are currently 30th out of 31 AHL teams in scoring with just 2.47 goals per contest. The team below them, San Antonio, just beat Rockford twice to close out the road trip. The IceHogs are also 30th in the league in shots at 26.79 per game.

Why the drought? Simple. Matthew Highmore (24 goals last season) is out for possibly the season following shoulder surgery. Tyler Sikura (23 goals last season) has been out of the lineup the last five games.

Rockford was missing a veteran scorer in Jordan Schroeder for nine games until he returned this past weekend. Terry Broadhurst, another veteran, has been out the last six games.

Having your top scorers out is going to put a dent in the offensive output. Rockford is a team of prospects. The organization, as is usually the case, did not go out and stock the roster with AHL scorers this summer. When four big point-producers miss time, it’s hard to replace them on the score sheet.

Dylan Sikura (6 G, 8 A) and Darren Raddysh (4 G, 8 A), along with Anthony Louis (7 G, 4 A) pace the Hogs in scoring. However, Rockford does not have a player in the top twenty of the league in goals or the top forty in scoring.

It seems unlikely that the Blackhawks are going to obtain veteran scoring help in the immediate future. Rockford is going to have to get healthy, then get after it in the offensive zone to turn its fortunes.


Weekday Action

Thursday, the IceHogs assigned two players to the Indy Fuel of the ECHL. One was forward Brett Welychka, who had been in Rockford since October 29. Welychka played eight games but hadn’t recorded a point.

Also going to Indianapolis is goalie Kevin Lankinen. The rookie from Finland had a nice game in net for the IceHogs Saturday night in San Antonio despite being hung with the loss.

These moves suggest that goalie Anton Forsberg and second-year forward Tyler Sikura may be ready to rejoin the lineup. Sikura would be a particularly welcome addition in light of Rockford’s offensive woes.



Tuesday, November 20-San Antonio 3, Rockford 2 (SO)

Collin Delia recorded 36 saves to give the Hogs a chance to break the losing streak. However, an early two-goal lead went for naught and the Rampage prevailed on penalty shots.

It didn’t take long for the IceHogs to build that two-goal advantage. Dylan Sikura took a pass from Graham Knott into the Rampage zone, maneuvered his way into some open ice and fired past San Antonio goalie Jordan Binnington at 3:06 for a 1-0 Rockford lead. Later in the fourth minute, Anthony Louis took a cross-ice pass from Jordan Schroeder and sent an offering over Binnington’s shoulder and into the cage. 3:54 into the game, the Hogs led 2-0.

With Andrew Campbell in the penalty box for tripping, San Antonio cut into the lead with a power play goal. Jakub Jerabeck sent a shot toward goal that glanced off of the stick of defenseman Lucas Carlsson and found its way past Hogs goalie Collin Delia. The goal came at the 18:10 mark; the teams skated to the locker room with Rockford leading 2-1.

A turnover by Carl Dahlstrom set up the Rampage with a 2-on-1 rush in the Hogs zone. San Antonio tied the game when Jordan Kyrou passed to Charlie Sampair at the left post. Delia never had a chance and it was 2-2 8:52 into the middle frame.

Both Binnington and Delia stood tall in the third period as well as in overtime. The shootout started badly for Rockford as Austin Poganski and Kyrou scored on their attempts. Louis converted in the second round for the Hogs after Viktor Ejdsell was denied. Delia stopped Joey LeLeggia, but Binnington did the same to Sikura to close out the contest.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Anthony Louis-Viktor Ejdsell-Jordan Schroeder

Dylan Sikura-Graham Knott-Justin Auger

Matheson Iacopelli-Jacob Nilsson-Henrik Samuelsson

Brett Welychka-Nathan Noel-Nick Moutrey

Blake Hillman-Lucas Carlsson

Joni Tuulola-Darren Raddysh

Andrew Campbell-Carl Dahlstrom

Collin Delia

Power Play (1-2)



Penalty Kill (Rampage was 1-2)




This Weekend

The IceHogs touch down briefly at the BMO after a six-game road trip with a game with Chicago Friday. The Wolves are tied with Milwaukee for second place in the division.

Chicago will be missing Daniel Carr (9 G, 13 A), who was recalled to Las Vegas Thursday. Thomas Hyka (15 G, 33 A last season) comes down to join the Wolves. Brandon Pirri (7 G, 13 A) has been hot of late for Chicago, with a four-game point streak. He has three goals in his last two games.

Rockford visits Milwaukee Saturday night before going to Chicago Sunday afternoon. The Admirals got Rocco Grimaldi (4 G, 7 A) back this week after a month in Nashville. Milwaukee is led by defenseman Matt Donovan, who has eight goals and eight apples so far this season.

Follow me @JonFromi on twitter for updates between periods tonight at the BMO and thoughts on the IceHogs all season long.


Everything Else

The Rockford IceHogs are sitting in San Antonio with plenty to think about. Chicago’s AHL affiliate has its second game in four days against the Rampage coming up Tuesday night. Rockford will be attempting to snap a three-game skid, its longest of the young season.

It wasn’t a particularly memorable weekend for the piglets. After dropping a 3-1 decision to Grand Rapids Wednesday morning, Rockford flew down to Texas and were dominated in a 5-1 loss to the Stars. The following evening, the offensively-challenged Rampage beat the Hogs 2-1.

With the recent setbacks, Rockford is now 8-7-1-2 on the season. That .528 points percentage is good for sixth place in the Central Division.

In three games, the IceHogs scored three goals. They were 1-14 on the power play. The weekend did not produce a lot of offense in the way of shots, either. Rockford recorded just 16 shots on goal against Texas, then followed that up with a 15-shot performance in San Antonio.

To be fair, the IceHogs were missing some players. However, Rockford got solid goal-tending that had them even with its Lone Star opponents through 40 minutes on both Friday and Saturday. Texas out shot the Hogs 14-2 in the third period to pull away; Rockford mustered six third-period shots against the Rampage.

Jordan Schroeder got back into the lineup after missing nine games, finding the twine in his return Friday night. Tyler Sikura missed his third and fourth games with an illness. Anton Forsberg stayed home to recover from a similar illness.


Highmore Grounded

The organization got some bad news this week. Matthew Highmore, who injured his shoulder October 28 in a fall at the BMO Harris Bank Center against Manitoba, will be out for the next four to six months following surgery last Wednesday.

Highmore had seven points (3 G, 4 A) in eight games before leaving that game in the second period. He is one of the Hogs young prospects who can make things happen around the net, so his game is going to be missed.


King Quotes

Derek King is hoping to get the ship righted starting Tuesday in San Antonio. Here are some of his observations during the losing streak.

On the Hogs problems getting started in Wednesday morning’s 3-1 loss in Grand Rapids:

“We were walking through the game there for a while. We were standing still, they were setting the pace.”

On Jacob Nilsson, who scored the only goal in the loss to the Griffins:

“(Nilsson)’s a pretty solid player. He’s not going to toe-drag and be super flashy out there, but he’ll get the points when he gets the chance to. He kills penalties, he’s a good guy on the power play, he’s a good faceoff guy. He’s an all-around complete player and I’m going to look to him to lead this team, here.”

On Texas dominating play throughout a 5-1 loss Friday night:

“We were standing still watching them. It was kind of like watching Gretzky or Lemieux out there. When you watch them play you just kind of stand still in awe and watch them play. We gave them (Texas) a lot of respect. We should have been clogging them up like we wanted to and we were just standing there watching.”

On trying to break the current losing streak in Tuesday’s rematch with San Antonio:

“Like I say to the guys, I’ll put up reminders and these are the instructions for tonight. So, you’ve got to read the instructions. If you’re trying to build a drawer from IKEA and you’re not reading the instructions, good luck getting that put together. We put a game plan together; let’s follow it. Sometimes we stray from it and that’s (Saturday’s 2-1 loss) what happens.”



Friday, November 16-Texas 5, Rockford 1

The Stars, who pressured Collin Delia all evening, broke open a tie game in the third period with four goals. The Hogs goalie kept out 26 of 27 shots in the first 40 minutes before the dam broke.

Texas opened the scoring 6:25 into the contest while the teams were skating four to a side. Denis Gurianov swiped the puck from Rockford defenseman Darren Raddysh just inside the Stars blue line. Gurianov led an odd man rush the other way, setting up Roope Hintz for the score.

Despite being out shot 27-14 in the first 40 minutes, the IceHogs pulled even late in the second period. Viktor Ejdsell had thrown a shot attempt wide of the Texas net. Dylan Sikura chased it down behind the cage, passing to Jordan Schroeder as Sikura came around the end boards. Schroeder, making his return to action after missing nine games, tied the game from the right post at 18:44 of the middle frame.

If the Stars had dominated the game everywhere but on the scoreboard in the first two periods, they remedied that expeditiously in the final twenty minutes. While Texas captain Travis Morin screened Joni Tuulola, Tyler Fedun drew twine on a long-distance wrist shot fifteen seconds into the third period for a 2-1 advantage.

Rockford mustered just two shots to the Stars 14 in the third period. Texas got a goal from Morin at the midway point of the frame, then another from Samuel Lebarge 37 seconds later. Colton Hargrove’s exclamation point on the rout came 15:25 into the period.

For the game, the IceHogs were out shot 41-16. The relentless offensive pressure was too much for Delia in the final period but he still made 36 saves in the contest.


Saturday, November 17-San Antonio 2, Rockford 1 

The IceHogs were out of sorts against the AHL’s worst team, dropping their third straight game despite a solid effort by Kevin Lankinen in goal. The rookie, returning from a spell with the Indy Fuel, stopped 19 of 21 shots but didn’t get the support he needed at the other end of the ice.

Rockford experienced a bevy of issues in getting pucks to Rampage goalie Jordan Binnington. Two early power plays yielded nothing in the way of shots, and the two teams spent most of the opening period throwing the puck to each other or chasing it around the ice.

San Antonio took a 1-0 lead at the 14:35 mark of the second period after Graham Knott was called for holding. Austin Poganski knocked a loose puck under the pads of Lankinen to put the Rampage on top.

The Hogs came up with an answer a few minutes later, also while on the man advantage. Carl Dahlstom fielded a pass from Anthony Louis and sent a shot from the point that snaked past Binnington. Justin Auger provided cover from the front of the crease and Rockford tied the game at 18:05.

The Rampage took advantage of a neutral ice turnover midway through the third period to regain the lead. Adam Musil beat Lankinen from the slot at 9:07, assisted by Tanner Kaspick and Joey LaLeggia.

Musil’s goal held up; the IceHogs could muster only 15 goals on the evening. Lankinen was brought to the bench for a sixth skater, but Rockford was unable to utilize the additional manpower and the clock ran out on the Hogs.


This Week

Rockford gets a second shot at the Rampage Tuesday night before a brief return to the BMO Friday. The Hogs host the Chicago Wolves on Hockey Fights Cancer Night in the first tilt of a three-game weekend. Rockford visits Milwaukee Saturday night and Chicago Sunday afternoon.

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












Everything Else

The ‘Bago County Flying Piglets have business in Texas this weekend. Chicago’s AHL affiliate flew to the Lone Star State yesterday and are getting ready for a pair of Central Division contests.

Rockford begins the action in Cedar Park with the Texas Stars. The Hogs travel to San Antonio Saturday to face the Rampage in what will be the first of two games. That second game will be on Tuesday.

This is as good a time as any to visit the IceHogs two southern-most division opponents. Texas is siting at .500 right now and the Rampage are the worst team in the AHL right now. Still, it won’t be a cakewalk for Rockford, who have been missing some key players and are tossing a lot of players into the forward mix.


Morning Blues

The IceHogs had another morning game this week, losing 3-1 in Grand Rapids. Rookie Filip Zadina’s two goals were the difference; Jacob Nilsson potted his second of the campaign for Rockford. However, Zadina’s second of the night plus an empty netter by the Griffins in the third period did in the Hogs.

It has become an annual tradition that the IceHogs host a morning game and pack the BMO with school children. Hopefully, young fans are being cultivated due to this practice. It certainly isn’t producing winning hockey.

The IceHogs don’t fare well when playing earlier in the day. Going back to the 2011-12 season, Rockford is 3-9 when playing one of these morning games, whether at home or in another team’s barn. Since the Hogs began hosting a morning game in 2013-14, Rockford is 1-5, including a 3-0 loss to Iowa November 9.

The IceHogs have been a bit better when playing on Martin Luther King Day, splitting their last six games played at 1:00 p.m. in the BMO on that day.


Roster Moves

Head coach Derek King confirmed Tuesday that Anton Forsberg, who has been awesome for Rockford since being assigned to the AHL, is managing an illness that necessitated the recall of Kevin Lankinen Sunday night. It will be Lankinen and Collin Delia as the goalie tandem for the road trip.

With two games with the low-scoring Rampage this trip, it might be a good plan to go with Delia Friday against the Stars. Lankinen could face San Antonio the next night, with Delia getting the net Tuesday in the return match. Of course, Delia could well start all three of these games.

Monday, the IceHogs signed forward Nick Moutrey to a PTO. Between Cleveland and Belleville last season, the 6’3” Moutrey had five goals and six assists. He’s another big body to go with the others that have been collected in recent weeks by Rockford.

Connor Moynihan was re-assigned to the ECHL’s Indy Fuel Monday. King was hopeful that this weekend would see the return of forward Jordan Schroeder, who has been out the last nine games.


Texas-Friday, 7:00 p.m.

This will be the second meeting of the season between the two teams that faced off in last spring’s Western Conference Final. Rockford beat Texas 5-3 at the BMO Harris Bank Center back on October 13.

The Stars (6-6-1-1) are paced by Denis Gurianov, who has seven goals and seven helpers in 13 games. Rookie Joel L’Esperance also has seven goals for Texas. Forwards Eric Condra (5 G, 7 A), Justin Dowling (3 G, 9 A), Michael Mersch (5 G, 5 A) and Colton Hargrove (5 G, 5 A) also are double-digit point producers for Texas.

Defensemen Gavin Bayreuther and Joel Hanley are now skating for Dallas of the NHL. The Hogs will get their first look at veteran Taylor Fedun, who Dallas acquired in a trade with Buffalo last week. Fedun is a steady point-producer who has six assists so far in 11 games between Rochester and Texas. Rookie Benjamin Gleason is tops on the blueline for the Stars, with two goals and four assists for the season.

Landon Bow should get the call for the Stars Friday. The third-year goalie is coming off a loss to Manitoba in which he surrendered five goals. Bow has a 3.00 goals against average and a .893 save percentage.


San Antonio-Saturday, 7:00 p.m.

The Rampage are 4-12 thus far. That .250 points percentage is by far the lowest in the league. The problem for San Antonio has been getting pucks in the opposing net, though they did break a three-game skid with a 5-0 win over Manitoba Tuesday night. Jordan Nolan (3 G, 4 A) had a pair of goals in that game.

Rockford beat the Rampage 5-2 back on October 24 behind a 29-save performance by Delia. Four IceHogs poured in four goals in the second period to take control of the game.

Nolan shares the team lead in goals with Klim Kostlin (3 G, 4 A), Trevor Smith (3 G, 2 A) and Ryan Olsen (3 G, 1 A). Veterans Brian Flynn and Chris Butler each have a goal and seven assists to lead San Antonio in scoring.

Jordan Binnington (3-3-0-2, 2.13 GAA, .924 save percentage) shut out the Moose Tuesday and should get at least one start against Rockford. Ville Husso, who gave up four to the Hogs back in the October 24 contest, is scuffling with a 1-9 record, a 3.58 goals against average and an .879 save percentage.

Follow me @JonFromi on twitter for game updates and thoughts on the goings-on in Rockford all season long.



Everything Else

The Rockford IceHogs had a pleasant weekend away from the BMO. New head man Derek King put some new faces in the lineup; it paid off with a pair of victories for Chicago’s AHL affiliate.

The Hogs got some excellent play in net from both Anton Forsberg and Collin Delia to knock off two of the Central Division’s better clubs. Friday saw Rockford beat Milwaukee 2-1 before King and company went into Rosemont and bested the Chicago Wolves. The IceHogs won the first meeting of the Illinois rivals this season 4-3 on Saturday night.

King has a lot of skaters nursing injuries and wasn’t afraid to get some recently acquired players into action. One that made an immediate impact was forward Justin Auger, who opened the scoring in both contests this weekend.

The 6’6″ Auger was on a power play unit this weekend, as was Hunter Fejes, another player who was signed to a PTO by the Hogs. AHL signing Connor Moynihan appeared in both games for Rockford. Saturday, with Tyler Sikura feeling ill and being a late scratch, Brett Welychka was back in the lineup.

Rockford has added several players to the roster, which should promote a sense of competition among a team of prospects. With Terry Broadhurst inactive for the weekend set and Sikura sitting on Sunday to go with injuries to Jordan Schroeder and Matthew Highmore, it was great to see players stepping up to beat a couple of quality division foes.


Lankinen Recalled

On Sunday, goalie Kevin Lankinen was recalled to Rockford. I can only speculate as to why this is, but here goes:

  • The Blackhawks want Lankinen to spend a few days under the watchful eye of their coaching staff. It is possible that he could start the Hogs Wednesday morning game in Grand Rapids.
  • Collin Delia took a lot of contact in Saturday’s win in Chicago. He did not seem to have suffered ill effects, but an issue may have been revealed post-game. Delia (5-2-2, 2.41, .931) was terrific at Allstate Arena, stopping 37 of 40 shots in what turned out to be a very physical game around the net.
  • Forsberg tweaked something in his appearance Friday night in Milwaukee. Forsberg was outstanding for the Hogs, especially early when Rockford was out of sorts. In four games with the IceHogs, Forsberg sports a 3-1 record, a 1.75 goals against average and a .933 save percentage. Both Forsberg and Delia are among the top-performing goalies in the AHL at the present time.
  • Someone’s getting dealt. Who that could be is anyone’s guess.


The Perch

With fifteen games in the books for the 2018-19 season, Rockford is 8-4-1-2. With a .633 point percentage, the piglets are in third place in the Central Division. Milwaukee and Iowa are the two teams ahead of the Hogs.

Rockford has points in their last six road games (5-0-1). They have three games in opposing barns this week, starting with a morning game in Grand Rapids on Wendesday. The IceHogs will fly to Texas for a Friday date the Stars. Games in San Antonio await the Hogs Saturday and the following Tuesday.

Dylan Sikura (5 G, 7 A) and Darren Raddysh (4 G, 8 A) pace Rockford with 12 points. Sikura has fired 56 shots on goal, by far the most active on the team through 15 games.



Friday, November 9-Rockford 2 , Milwaukee 1

Rockford started very slowly, picked up the play as the game progressed and found a way to knock off the Admirals for the second time in a week. Interim head coach Derek King got his first win behind the bench.

The IceHogs got some outstanding play in net from Anton Forsberg, allowing them to stay in the game throughout an uneven first period. The teams went into the first intermission in a scoreless tie.

Rockford built momentum as the second period wore on, taking a 1-0 lead at the 14:42 mark. Darren Raddysh got the play started by forcing a turnover in neutral ice. Lucas Carlsson chased down a loose puck in his own zone and skated along the left half boards across the Admirals blue line.

Carlsson slid the puck over to Justin Auger, in his first appearance for the IceHogs. Auger settled the puck in the high slot before shooting low on Milwaukee goalie Tom McCullom. The shot reached nirvana to end a four-period scoring drought for Rockford.

The Hogs lead was short-lived. Colin Blackwell collected a loose puck in neutral ice, skated to the bottom of the right circle and sent a shot past Forsberg that caught the crossbar and entered the net. The game was tied at one at 15:28 of the second and stayed that way when the teams went to the locker rooms.

After coming up empty on a couple of strong power plays, the IceHogs got the go-ahead goal 15:59 into the third period. The play got started with a Darren Raddysh point shot that was wide of the mark. The puck nearly came out of the Ads zone but was held in by Graham Knott just inside the blue line.

Joni Tuulola took in a pass from Knott, skated to the top of the left circle and fired to McCullom’s stick side. Rubber and twine united as one, with the IceHogs taking a 2-1 lead. Milwaukee pulled McCullom in the final minutes but Forsberg made the required stops to preserve a hard-fought victory.

Raddysh, Blackwell and Tuulola were the games Three Stars. However, the only reason Rockford was in a position to win this game was Forsberg, who made 19 saves and prevented an early Admirals lead with several high-quality saves in the first two periods.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Dylan Sikura-Jacob Nilsson-Viktor Ejdsell

Tyler Sikura (A)-Anthony Louis-Justin Auger

Hunter Fejes-Graham Knott-Henrik Samuelsson

Matheson Iacopelli-Nathan Noel-Connor Moynihan

Lucas Carlsson-Carl Dahlstrom (A)

Darren Raddysh-Joni Tuulola

Blake Hillman-Gustav Forsling

Anton Forsberg

Power Play (0-3)



Penalty Kill (Admirals were 0-2)


T. Sikura-Knott-Forsling-Dahlstrom



Saturday, November 10-Rockford 4, Chicago 3

A big second period and 37 Collin Delia saves propelled the Hogs to the win in the first meeting of the season between two Central Division rivals.

Rockford withstood several early chances by the Wolves before Justin Auger won control of a puck in the corner of the IceHogs zone. He guided the biscuit to Anthony Louis, who sent it along the left half boards and across the Chicago blue line.

Graham Knott won a race to the puck and drove to the front of the net. The play was broken up, but Auger was on hand to pressure the Wolves and found the loose puck on his stick. Auger slid it behind Chicago goalie Oscar Dansk at 15:15 of the opening period for a 1-0 Rockford advantage.

The Wolves countered in the waning seconds of the first with a power play goal by Brooks Macek, who slammed home a Daniel Carr rebound with 3.9 seconds remaining. The teams went to the locker room even at one goal apiece.

The key stretch of the game came early in the middle frame. With the teams skating four to a side, Lucas Carlsson uncorked a one-timer off of Viktor Ejdsell’s faceoff win from the right point. Dansk was unable to detain the puck and Rockford was back on top 2-1 at the 1:35 mark.

The Wolves were down two players due to penalties soon after, setting up another long-range bomb. This one came from the stick of Darren Raddysh, who one-timed a pass from Gustav Forsling at the top of the left circle past the blocker of Dansk. The Hogs led 3-1 at 2:58 of the second.

Halfway into the second period, the Rockford power play struck again. Forsling sent a slap shot toward the Chicago goal that rebounded off Dansk and into the slot. Ejdsell was on hand to collect the puck and pass to Dylan Sikura at the bottom of the right circle. The resulting shot caught twine at 10:55 to make it 4-1 Rockford.

The Hogs needed each of those tallies to outlast the Wolves, who had their offensive prowess on display. Keegan Kolesar batted in a rebound of a Brandon Pirri shot on a delayed penalty call to cut the lead to 4-2 at 13:31 of the second. Chicago then turned up the heat in the final 20 minutes.

Delia found himself fending off an onslaught of rubber throughout the third period. The IceHogs penalty kill stopped two Wolves chances; after Raddysh was called for interference with 7:40 remaining, Chicago brought Dansk to the bench for a two-man advantage that Rockford stopped. Dansk spent most of the remainder of the contest behind the boards as the Wolves slammed away at the Rockford goalie.

Macek eventually got his second goal of the game to make it 4-3, but that came with just 22 seconds to go in regulation. The piglets held on despite 20 Chicago shots on goal in the third to post their second win in as many days.

Sikura, Macek and Ejdsell were voted the game’s three stars, though Delia certainly deserves a mention for stopping 37 of 40 shots. Most of those shots came with heavy traffic in front of his net.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Hunter Fejes-Nathan Noel-Henrik Samuelsson

Anthony Louis-Graham Knott-Justin Auger

Dylan Sikura-Jacob Nilsson-Viktor Ejdsell

Connor Moynihan-Brett Welychka-Matheson Iacopelli

Gustav Forsling (A)-Dennis Gilbert

Carl Dahlstrom (A)-Lucas Carlsson

Darren Raddysh-Joni Tuulola

Collin Delia

Power Play (2-7)



Penalty Kill (Wolves were 1-6)





Waking Up With The Griffins

Grand Rapids, who hosts the IceHogs Wednesday morning, are 6-6-0-1 on the season. They have, however, played well at Van Andel Arena (3-1-0-1).

The Griffins are led in scoring by a pair of long-time AHL veterans, Chris Terry (8 G, 3 A) and Camper Carter (2 G, 9 A). Matt Peumpel, who notched 22 goals for Grand Rapids last season, has five goals and five helpers this season.

There’s a lot of veteran presence on the Griffins. Returning faces include forwards Martin Ford (3 G, 4 A) and Turner Elson (3 G, 5 A). Defenseman Dylan McIlrath is a nine-year AHL vet. Fellow blueliner Brian Lashoff is starting his tenth year with Grand Rapids. Both are big, physical players who have been dishing it out against Rockford for years.

Former Sharks prospect Harri Sateri spent several seasons in the KHL and now patrols the net for the Griffins. In nine games, he’s 4-5 with a 3.71 goals against average and an .867 save percentage. Patrik Rybar (2-1-1, 2.21, .905) comes from several seasons playing in his native Slovakia. He had a rough debut against the Wolves but has played well in three other starts for the Griffins.

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



Everything Else

The Rockford IceHogs are opening up their longest road trip of the 2018-19 campaign this weekend. The piglets are currently 6-4-1-2, good for a .577 points percentage and fourth place in the AHL’s Central Division. Of course, the big news out of Winnebago County is that Rockford has a new head coach.

Following Jeremy Colliton’s ascension to the head post in Chicago, The IceHogs named assistant Derek King Rockford’s interim head coach. King has been in the organization for two years prior to this one. He served on Ted Dent’s staff in 2016-17 as well on Colliton’s staff last season.

A more than capable offensive forward with a 14-year NHL career as a player, King was an assistant for the Toronto Marlies for six seasons before coming to Rockford. This is his first shot at helming an AHL club.

How will King fare with the piglets for the remainder of the season? At the moment, he inherits a banged-up group that may be getting some key players back in the coming days. There are several new faces coming in, with Rockford signing a couple of skaters to tryouts this week.

If Hawks GM Stan Bowman fortifies his squad like he did for Colliton in the second half last season, he should do just fine. If they don’t, the organization will have to assess how far King has progressed a young team before talk of a permanent position can commence.

For all the talk of Colliton’s magic touch with Chicago’s prospects, one must not forget that it was the influx of veterans and NHL players late in the season that propelled the IceHogs to the Western Conference Final. Without the nudge from management, Rockford is a fifth or sixth-place team in the Central last season.

This isn’t a knock on Colliton, who had the youngsters playing hard. However, don’t expect King to get this current roster deep into the playoffs without similar help from above. Check out last season’s year in review to see how the roster transformation affected Rockford’s fortunes.


Roster Moves

The IceHogs brought up forward Connor Moynihan on Wednesday. They also signed Hunter Fejes to a Player Try Out agreement. Thursday, the Hogs inked former Kings farmhand Justin Auger to a similar pact, then sent Radovan Bondra, Josh McArdle and Neil Manning back to Indy Thursday afternoon.

It appears that King wants to foster an atmosphere of competition among his players. Even with several injuries throughout the lineup, there are plenty of options for the new boss.

McArdle and Manning returning to the Fuel likely means that some of the injured defensemen are ready to come back. Andrew Campbell, Carl Dahlstrom, Gustav Forsling and Luc Snuggerud all have missed time of late. I’d guess one or two of those players crack the lineup this weekend.


School’s Out Recap

Wednesday, November 7-Iowa 3, Rockford 0

A school-aged audience came out to the BMO Harris Bank Center for a 10:30 puck drop. Unfortunately, the Hogs were blanked in Derek King’s debut as top man on the Rockford bench.

The Wild power play struck late in the opening period, with Cal O’Reilly finding Sam Anas skating to the right post. Hogs goalie Collin Delia left the back door open and Anas gave Iowa a 1-0 lead at 17:17 of the first.

Colton Beck used a second, and then a third effort, to knock a puck past Delia 2:47 into the middle frame for a two-goal Wild advantage. O’Reilly converted on an empty net late in the game to complete the scoring for Iowa.

The IceHogs had no solution for Kappo Kahkonen, who made 28 saves while picking up his second win over Rockford in five days. Kahkonen was voted the game’s first star.


Weekend Preview-Hitting The Road

Milwaukee Admirals-Friday, 7:00 p.m.

The IceHogs pulled out an overtime decision over the Admirals in Milwaukee just last Friday. Darren Raddysh was good for a pair of goals in Rockford’s 3-2 win at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.

Milwaukee is now in third place in the Central Division. The Ads dropped games in Grand Rapids and at home to the Wolves since falling to the IceHogs.

Zach Magwood accounted for both Admirals goals last week against Rockford. The rookie has four points (2 G, 2 A) in six appearances.


Chicago Wolves-Saturday, 7:00 p.m.

In a far-away land of magic, rainbows and quality deep-dish pizza, a grail was forged from the fires of vulcanized rubber. An ethereal chalice to be sought after by those that glide on ice in search of excellence. Unfortunately, no one knows where this emblem of pure victory is currently located. In its stead, these Interstate 90 rivals will be battling for the Illinois Lottery Cup.

I’m pretty sure the Wolves are in possession of the ILC at the moment, having won the tie-breaker in last season’s series with the IceHogs. As a small measure of vengance, the Hogs swept Chicago in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs last spring.

The Wolves are tied with Iowa for the Central Division lead. They’re 8-3-0-1, on a two-game win steak and the Western Conference’s most potent offensive team. Chicago is putting up 4.17 goals per contest and are doing a lot of that damage at even strength.

European import Brooks Macek is tied with Cleveland’s Zac Dalpe for the AHL lead in goals (12) and points (19). Bolstered by five power-play goals, Daniel Carr (8 G, 10 A) is right behind Macek and Dalpe in scoring. Both Macek and Carr are plus-18 just 12 games into the season, which also tops the AHL. Center Gage Quinney (7 G, 5 A) is merely a plus-16 so far.

As if the Wolves didn’t have enough offensive firepower, they return Brandon Pirri (4 G, 9 A) and T.J. Tynan (4 G, 8 A) from last year’s club. Curtis McKenzie (2 G, 9 A), captain of the Texas Stars last season, comes to Chicago to add to the veteran talent.

The Wolves picked up former Milwaukee defenseman Jimmy Oligny this summer. Zac Leslie came over last season from Ontario and adds experience. Rookie Erik Brannstrom leads the blueline with three goals and seven apples.

The goal tending is in the capable hands of Max Legace (2.26 GAA, .919 save percentage) and Oscar Dansk, who is 5-1-1 so far this season despite a 3.14 goals against average and an .896 save percentage.

Follow me @JonFromi on twitter for updates on this weekend’s action, as well as Hogs-related thought all season long.





Everything Else

The Rockford IceHogs suffered through a frustrating weekend at the BMO Harris Bank Center. They also may have lost more than a couple of hockey games.

The Blackhawks AHL affiliate competed hard with Cleveland and Manitoba, only to come out on the short end of back-to-back games. The IceHogs could manage just two goals in the two games, dropping a 2-1 decision to the Monsters, then falling in a shootout by that same 2-1 score to the Moose.

It’s safe to say that Rockford finished play this weekend a little banged up. There could be some roster moves necessary after two key skaters left Sunday’s games with injuries.

Defenseman Carl Dahlstrom suffered a groin injury early in Sunday’s game. He left the ice after skating his last shift in the sixth minute and did not return to action.

Late in the second period, Matthew Highmore took a spill after circling the puck around the Manitoba zone. He landed awkwardly and appeared to injure his right shoulder. After a visit from the trainer, he was led to the locker room. Highmore also did not return to the game.

The IceHogs skated with 11 forwards in both games this weekend, due to an injury to Jordan Schroeder. The nature of his injury was not disclosed, though it was thought to be minor enough that Schroeder would be ready to play moving forward.

Hogs coach Jeremy Colliton commented on Schroeder’s absence from the power play, which went 1-8 on the weekend, struggling at times to get set up in the offensive zone.

“He (Schroeder)’s a very good power play guy. Right shot, very comfortable on the puck, very comfortable entering the zone under control,” Colliton said. “That was a little bit of our issue; we had trouble entering clean and we didn’t break pressure.”

There are currently 13 forwards on Rockford’s roster. William Pelletier has not played yet this season after a very productive rookie campaign. Colliton did not seem to have a definite answer for when Pelletier would be ready to join the lineup.

“He’s out,” Colliton said. “I’m not sure, like, down to the week but it’s definitely weeks. We’re in the months situation.”

It could be a while before Pelletier is skating again. If Highmore is going to miss substantial time, there should be a call-up sometime this week. With four days between the Manitoba game and Friday’s match up in Milwaukee, we’ll have to see as to the extent of the Hogs injury woes.

UPDATE: OCT. 29-This morning, the IceHogs recalled Brett Welychka from Indy and sent down G Kevin Lankinen.


Weekend Musings

  • Cleveland is going to be a tough team to beat if they can retain its current mix. There are a lot of speedy young prospects that are bolstered by experienced NHL veterans like Mark Letestu and Nathan Gerbe.
  • Colliton had the following take on Cleveland: “I think they’re big and they skate pretty well. They’ve got a lot of depth up front. They put pressure all over the ice and we had trouble making clean plays.”
  • Colliton also remained pretty optimistic about the Hogs play in the two losses. Rockford was down to ten forwards and missing one of its better defenders in Dahlstrom but still hung tough down the stretch against the Moose. “Their goaltender played pretty well. Our goaltender played pretty well. It was a good hockey game,” he remarked on Sunday. “It’s never fun to come out on the losing end. Based on the weekend, how we played, we probably deserved better than one point. Overall, we’ll just continue to get better and the points will come.”
  • Dennis Gilbert got tangled up with J.C. Lipon of the Moose. The two dropped the gloves coming out of the corner of the Manitoba zone 6:26 into the game. It was over before it really got started, with both players falling to the ice and being separated by the officials.
  • That is Rockford’s second fighting major in nine games so far. At that rate, the IceHogs would draw 17 FMs in 2018-19. To be honest, they probably don’t reach that total, having draw just 12 last season. Rockford is not employing the type of player who is capable of delivering big hits and backing it up with his fists. Manitoba turned the physical play up a notch Sunday. I can’t say the Hogs held their own in this aspect of the game, but they didn’t seem to be thrown off too much by the rugged style of the Moose.
  • An Anton Forsberg-Collin Delia goalie tandem could prove to be quite formidable if both players remain in Rockford. Kevin Lankinen should probably be getting starts in Indy. It might not be fair to the rookie from Finland, but he needs time in a net. (UPDATE-Lankinen was assigned to the Fuel October 29.)
  • Delia’s save percentage is .925; he’s handling the crease well in the face of increased rubber flying his way. He is carrying a 2.64 goals against average.
  • Curious as to how long Gustav Forsling is going to be in Rockford in the face of the current defensive landscape in Chicago. He sent a couple of bullets to the net and was on a power play unit in his first week of action in Rockford. This did not result in any points for Forsling in three games, but he seems to have no ill effects from this summer’s wrist surgery.
  • Tyler and Dylan Sikura and Highmore pace the club with seven points each. Tyler’s four goals is still tops among the IceHogs. He also has the highest skater rating (plus-five).
  • Colliton iced the same lineup, save for his goalies, in both weekend contests. With Schroeder out, he dressed seven defensemen and just 11 forwards. Defensemen Luc Snuggerud and Joni Tuulola were the healthy scratches.
  • Dylan Sikura (2 G, 7 A) is 13th among rookies in scoring. Blake Hillman has a lone assist on the season but he is also a plus-four. Viktor Ejdsell leads Rockford rookies with three goals.


Saturday, October 27-Cleveland 2, Rockford 1

The IceHogs were in this game until the end. Cleveland, however, won for the third time in as many tries against Rockford.

The pace was certainly rapid to begin the contest. Rockford had several quality scoring chances turned away by Monsters goalie Matises Kivlenieks. Cleveland gained a 1-0 advantage late in the first period. A holding penalty by Dennis Gilbert led to a Zac Dalpe put back of a rebound at the 19:08 mark. Dalpe was on the spot to gather in the initial shot by Mark Letestu.

The score held through the second, which saw Rockford go 0-3 on the man advantage. The Hogs also killed off nearly two minutes of 5-on-3 time to keep the deficit to a single goal.

The Rockford power play managed to tie the game in the third after Blake Siebenhaler slashed Terry Broadhurst behind the Monsters net. Viktor Ejdsell took a pass from Carl Dahlstrom at the left point. His drive found its way past Kivlenieks to tie the score 6:58 into the period.

Both teams had chances to break the tie. That didn’t happen until Paul Bittner gathered up a Gabriel Carlsson shot that had come off the right post. Bittner scored at the 15:27 mark to make it 2-1 Monsters.

The Hogs pulled starting goalie Anton Forsberg, who stopped 25 of 27 Cleveland shots, in favor of a sixth attacker in the closing minutes. This created some excitement around the Monsters net as the final seconds ticked away. Ultimately, the sands of time ran out on the piglets.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Viktor Ejdsell-Matthew Highmore (A)-Terry Broadhurst (A)

Dylan Sikura-Jacob Nilsson

Anthony Louis-Tyler Sikura-Henrik Samuelsson

Matheson Iacopelli-Graham Knott-Nathan Noel

Andrew Campbell-Gustav Forsling

Blake Hillman-Carl Dahlstrom (A)

Dennis Gilbert-Darren Raddysh

Lucas Carlsson

Anton Forsberg

Power Play (1-6)



Penalty Kill (Cleveland was 1-5)

Highmore-T. Sikura-Dahlstrom-Hillman




Sunday, October 28-Manitoba 2, Rockford 1 (SO)

Rockford forced extra skating to earn a standings point but came up short on penalty shots, losing its second game in a row.

After a scoreless first period, both teams found their way to the twine in the middle frame. The Moose took a 1-0 lead after a dump-in knuckled over the head of Hogs goalie Collin Delia. The puck settled behind the net, where Felix Girard won control. Girard slid a pass to Tye McGinn in the slot; the ensuing shot was sent over Delia’s glove at the 10:18 mark.

The Hogs evened things up late in the period after Manitoba’s Sami Niku caught the left post on a shot attempt that would have given his team a two-goal advantage. The puck was sent around the end boards, where Lucas Carlsson took possession long enough to hit Tyler Sikura about to skate out of the Rockford zone.

Sikura skated the puck to the Moose end of the ice, sending a shot that was stopped by Manitoba rookie Mikhail Berdin. The rebound came back out to defenseman Andrew Campbell, who had joined the rush, and the put back at 17:50 made it a 1-1 game entering the second intermission.

Neither Delia or Berdin yielded a goal for the remainder of regulation. Rockford held firm in Gus Macker Time, killing off a 4-on-3 Moose advantage for the last 1:23. Unfortunately, Berdin was one stop better in the shootout. Seth Griffin’s second round goal was the difference.

Rockford shooters Viktor Ejdsell, Anthony Louis and Dylan Sikura were all denied by Berdin, who nabbed First Star honors with a 35-save performance in his first AHL game. Delia (36 saves on 37 shots) and Campbell rounded out the three stars.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Viktor Ejdsell-Matthew Highmore (A)-Terry Broadhurst (A)

Dylan Sikura-Jacob Nilsson

Anthony Louis-Tyler Sikura-Henrik Samuelsson

Matheson Iacopelli-Graham Knott-Nathan Noel

Blake Hillman-Gustav Forsling

Andrew Campbell-Carl Dahlstrom (A)

Dennis Gilbert-Darren Raddysh

Lucas Carlsson

Anton Forsberg

Power Play (0-2)



Penalty Kill (Manitoba was 0-3)

Highmore-T. Sikura-Dahlstrom-Hillman




Coming Up

The piglets have their first three-in-three of the season this weekend. On Friday, the Hogs visit Milwaukee for their first meeting of the season with the Admirals. Saturday, Rockford hosts the Iowa Wild before traveling to DesMoines for a Sunday afternoon tilt.

Follow me @JonFromi on twitter for game updates, news and thoughts on the IceHogs all season long.


Everything Else

The Rockford IceHogs, AHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks, are hitting the weekend on a two-game win streak. Coach Jeremy Colliton will hope to extend the winning ways as the IceHogs host Cleveland and Manitoba.

Rockford bested a scuffling San Antonio Rampage club at the BMO Wednesday night, but looked a little sloppy doing so. The IceHogs put together 15 minutes of real good hockey Wednesday; that got them by a struggling opponent who now have lost seven straight. Beating Cleveland will require a more complete performance.

With a record of 4-2-1 heading into this weekend, Rockford sits in fourth place in the AHLs Central Division standings. Two wins would keep the Hogs within reach of the Milwaukee Admirals, Chicago Wolves and Texas Stars, the teams ahead of Rockford.


Roster Moves

Defenseman Gustav Forsling was sent to Rockford on Monday, having recovered from wrist surgery over the summer. He went right into the lineup Wednesday night.

Tuesday, goalie Anton Forsberg cleared waivers and was assigned to the IceHogs. For the moment, Rockford is carrying three goalies. How long will this remain the case?

Both Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen have played well for Colliton in the early going. Both may figure into the future for the Blackhawks. It doesn’t appear that Forsberg fits into those plans. On the other hand, he does have experience in an NHL net in case of an injury.

Forsberg is a very good goalie at the AHL level and will need to showcase those skills if the Hawks have designs on moving his contract. Colliton hinted that Forsberg could get a start for Rockford this weekend. From there, we may see a move made to thin the herd in the crease.

Also on Tuesday, Luke Johnson was recalled to the Blackhawks. This comes after a solid weekend of action with the Hogs in Tucson this past weekend.


Tomkins Shines In Indy

Matt Tomkins, who is on an AHL contract with Rockford, is playing well to open the season for the Indy Fuel. Tomkins was named the CCM/ECHL Goaltender of the Week for the week of Oct. 15-21. Tomkins earned the honor for the second time in his career, previously winning the award the week of Dec. 4-10, 2017.

The former Ohio State goalie turned away 72 of the 76 shots he faced last weekend, winning both games he started for the Fuel. Overall, Tomkins is 3-1 with a 2.76 goals against average and a .926 save percentage.



Wednesday, October 24-Rockford 5, San Antonio 2

Rockford broke out with four second-period goals, overcoming some uninspired play in the first and third frames to pick up the win over the Rampage.

There wasn’t much action in the opening period. Rockford had three shots at the power play but couldn’t put much together in the way of scoring chances. The same was true when the Hogs were at even strength. It was a different story, however, when the teams hit the BMO Harris Bank Center ice for the second stanza.

The first of three IceHogs goals in the opening minutes of the period came at the 1:17 mark. Darren Raddysh and Matthew Highmore moved the puck along the right half boards and into neutral ice. Viktor Ejdsell collected the puck and skated it all the way to the right dot. His shot made it past Rampage goalie Ville Husso for a 1-0 Rockford advantage.

Less than a minute later, Raddysh lifted a puck out of his zone. It was gathered in by Anthony Louis, who skated into the San Antonio zone with teammates in tow. Louis sent a nice saucer pass to Henrik Samuelsson skating toward the right post. The glove-side shot kissed cord at 1:58 of the second and made it 2-0 Hogs.

Rockford went up 3-0 a few minutes later after Terry Broadhurst sprung Highmore on a breakaway chance. Highmore lost the handle on the puck as he prepared to fire on goal. Fortunately, Ejdsell was following the play and knocked the loose biscuit into Husso’s basket at 4:11 of the second.

Dylan Sikura got a chance to showcase his speed after swiping a pass from Robby Fabbri just inside the Hogs blue line. Sikura the Younger zipped across the neutral zone and made a beeline for the San Antonio net. The shot slid between Husso’s pads at 14:26 and it was 4-0 Rockford.

A broken Plexiglas panel forced an early second intermission. The last 3:28 of the second period was played, followed quickly by the third period. This delay marked a shift in momentum as the visiting team was allowed to get back in the game.

Just 1:43 into the final frame, Trevor Smith took a rebound off the end boards and found the back of a wide open net from the left post to get the Rampage on the board. The Rampage closed the gap to 4-2 on a shorthanded goal by Fabbri at the 9:56 mark.

That’s as close as it got, however. Hussa was pulled to attempt a two-man advantage with Louis in the box for sending a puck over the glass. Tyler Sikura forced a turnover that Highmore deposited into the Bank of Empty Net at 18:40 of the third period, earning frozen custard for all at the BMO.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Mattheson Iacopelli-Graham Knott-Nathan Noel

Terry Broadhurst (A)-Matthew Highmore-Viktor Ejdsell

Dylan Sikura-Jacob Nilsson-Jordan Schroeder

Anthony Louis-Tyler Sikura (A)-Henrik Samuelsson

Blake Hillman-Carl Dahlstrom (A)

Gustav Forsling-Darren Raddysh

Andrew Campbell-Lucas Carlsson

Collin Delia

Power Play (0-7)



Penalty Kill (Rampage was 0-5)

Nilsson-T. Sikura-Dahlstrom-Hillman




Previewing The Weekend

Cleveland-Saturday, October 27

The Monsters are 5-3 on the season and in second place in the AHLs North Division. Like San Antonio, Cleveland will be coming off a game in Milwaukee Friday before taking on the Hogs Saturday at 6:00 p.m.

Zac Dalpe paces the Monsters with nine points (6 G, 3 A). Rookie Eric Robinson has gotten off to a strong start as well, with four goals and three helpers. Both were instrumental in handing Rockford a pair of defeats in Cleveland to open the season.

The IceHogs will need to stop Dalpe and Robinson this time around, as well as captain Nathan Gerbe (1 G, 5 A) and speedy rookie Vitaly Abramov (2 G, 2 A). Forward Alex Broadhurst (1 G, 4 A) has also been tough on his former team in recent years.

One player that Rockford will see for the first time is defenseman Gabriel Carlsson, who leads the Monsters back end with a goal and three assists. J.F. Berube, who beat the Hogs in the season opener, has taken most of the turns in net. In his last start Wednesday morning, he gave up five goals in Chicago in a loss to the Wolves.


Manitoba-Sunday, October 28

The Moose make their first visit to the BMO Harris Bank Center Sunday afternoon for a 4:00 p.m. start. Manitoba is 3-3 heading into their game Saturday night in…you guessed it…Milwaukee.

Last weekend, the Moose took a pair of games at home from San Antonio. After scoring just five goals in their first four contests, Manitoba exploded for ten goals against the Rampage.

Manitoba is led in scoring by last year’s AHL Outstanding Rookie, Mason Appleton. The big winger is off to a solid start, with eight points (4 G, 4 A). He’s coming off a hat trick on October 21, when he had a five-point game against San Antonio.

Rookie C.J. Suess tops the Moose with five goals. He has found the back of the net in four of Manitoba’s first six games. There hasn’t been much scoring throughout the rest of the lineup, save for veteran Seth Griffin, who has chipped in a pair of goals and two apples. Griffin played with Rochester, where he posted 41 points (15 G, 26 A) a season ago.

Sami Niku is a dangerous scoring presence on the blue line, though he’s yet to light a lamp this season. Former IceHogs defenseman Cameron Schilling had a career-year for Manitoba last season (6 G, 26 A) and is back for the Moose.

Other familiar faces include J.C. Lipon, who’s starting his fourth season with Manitoba, and former Milwaukee and San Antonio forward Felix Girard. Girard has two goals for his new team so far.

The tandem in goal is led by Eric Comrie, who has three seasons under his belt with the Moose. In five starts, Comrie is 3-2 with a 2.80 goals against average and a .917 save percentage. His backup is former Devil’s farmhand Ken Appleby, who gave up six goals to Iowa in his last start on October 13.

Follow me @JonFromi on twitter for game updates and commentary on the IceHogs all season long.