Monday, March 2, 2015

WEEK 21 RECAP: OFFENSE COMES ALIVE IN TEXAS

By: Nate Haeni
Photo by Christina Shapiro
Week 21 Recap:
With the Western Conference playoff race shaping up to be a tight battle until the very end, the Rockford IceHogs picked up two key road victories for a weekend sweep of the Texas Stars. The defending Calder Cup Champion Stars had an answer for every goal the IceHogs scored on Friday until P.C. Labrie and the Hogs put them away with 22 seconds remaining in overtime. The next night Rockford cruised to a 6-3 win thanks to a spark from the line combination of Phillip Danault, Mark McNeill and Garret Ross, who combined for 8 points (5g-3a) on Saturday.

Week 21 Results:    
Friday, Feb. 27, Rockford 4 at Texas 3 OT
Saturday, Feb. 28, Rockford 6 at Texas 3

Week 22 Schedule:
Friday, Mar. 6 vs. Oklahoma City, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Mar. 7 vs. Grand Rapids, 7 p.m.

Bacon Bits:
-With a pair of road wins in Texas over the weekend, the IceHogs are currently riding a three game winning streak and now lead the AHL with 18 road victories
-The ten goals scored by the IceHogs is tied for the second-highest scoring output in a two-game period this season.
-Rockford scored 11 goals on Oct. 31- Nov. 1 in a weekend sweep of San Antonio (W 6-3, W 5-1)
-Rockford scored four third-period goals in Saturday’s come-from-behind 6-3 victory, all coming in the final 12:10 of regulation time, matching a season high last done on Nov. 26 against Iowa
-Center Phillip Danault scored the final three goals of Saturday’s late outburst, recording his first-career hat trick – the fifth by an IceHog this season
-Mark McNeill tallied one goal and two assists in both Friday and Saturday’s victories, after going the previous six games without a point
-McNeill and Danault’s linemate Garret Ross also had a strong weekend, adding a goal and an assist in both games
-Combined, the trio of Danault, McNeill and Ross finished the weekend with 13 points (7g-6a) and a plus-13 rating in two games
-Rookie defenseman Dillon Fournier picked up the first three points of his AHL career, chipping in two helpers on Friday before adding another on Saturday
-With the overtime goal in Friday’s 4-3 victory, winger Pierre Cedric Labrie scored his second-consecutive game-winning goal, a streak including the deciding goal in Rockford’s 3-2 win against Lake Erie on Feb. 21
-The IceHogs power play operated at 50% (3-6) over the weekend, and is 7-29 (24.1%) over their past nine contests
-Rockford has won 10 of the last 11 games when they scored with the extra man
-Over the week the Chicago Blackhawks traded both of the IceHogs most tenured defenseman, shipping T.J. Brennan off to Toronto for forward Spencer Abbott on Thursday, and trading Klas Dahlbeck and a draft pick to Arizona for Antoine Vermette Saturday night
-Dahlbeck departs the IceHogs after playing 194 career games with Rockford, collecting 51 points (15g-36a)
-The 194 games played in Rockford puts him tied for fourth with Nathan Lutz on the IceHogs all-time games played list among defensemen
-At the time of the opening faceoff on Saturday, the six defensemen in the Rockford lineup combined to play 147 games in an IceHogs uniform
-Five of the six defensemen in the lineup on Saturday were rookies, including Ville PokkaKirill GotovetsDillon FournierJustin Holl and Stephen Johns 
-One of those defensemen, Holl, was making his AHL debut on Saturday

Hot Hog: Week 21
Mark McNeill    Center (2GP, 2G, 4A, 6PTS)

IceHogs center Mark McNeill showed an identical statline in both of Rockford’s victories in Texas over the weekend, tallying a goal in two assists on Friday and Saturday to help his team to the road sweep. In Friday’s 4-3 win, McNeill scored a second period tally and assisted on the IceHogs final two goals of the game, including the overtime game-winner. The second-year pivot from Edmonton, Alberta continued his torrid weekend by opening the scoring on Saturday, and helped out on two of Rockford’s four third-period goals. Appearing in 43 games this season, McNeill sits behind only his linemate Garret Ross in team goals (16) and points (34).

Upcoming Games:
Friday, Mar. 6 vs. Oklahoma City Barons: Game time is set for 7 p.m. The IceHogs return to the BMO Harris Bank Center to finish their season series with the Barons. The IceHogs will be recognizing youth hockey in the community by wearing specialty Rockford Hockey Club sweaters during the game. Fans are also welcomed into the BMO early for another Blues Flame Lounge pregame party beginning at 5:15 p.m.

Saturday, Mar. 7 vs. Grand Rapids Griffins: Face-off is at 7 p.m. Rockford finishes the weekend doubleheader in a key matchup with the Midwest Division leading Griffins. It’s red-out night at the BMO as fans are encouraged to wear red and the first 1,500 people into the building will receive a special commerative t-shirt compliments of Toyota. Following the game, all fans are invited onto the ice to participate in a postgame shootout for a chance to win pizza prizes courtesty of Papa John’s. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

ICEHOGS RECALL HOLL FROM INDY

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By: Nate Haeni
Photo by Todd Reicher
Rockford, Ill. – The Rockford IceHogs announced Thursday that they have recalled defenseman Justin Holl from the ECHL’s Indy Fuel.

Holl, 22, has recorded four goals and 19 assists with the Indy Fuel to start his first professional season. The rookie defenseman made his pro debut on Oct. 17 and registered his first point the next night against Fort Wayne.

The Tonka Bay, Minn. native spent four seasons with the University of Minnesota from 2010-2014, compiling eight goals and 30 assists in 142 career games. During his senior season, Holl scored the game-winning tally in the final few seconds of the NCAA semifinals to send the Gophers to the National Championship game against Union. 

Holl was selected in the second round (#54 overall) of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by the Blackhawks.

Next Home Game: Friday, Mar. 6 vs. Oklahoma City at 7 p.m. The IceHogs complete their season series with the Barons as Oklahoma City returns to the BMO for Rockford Hockey Club Night. Rockford will be recognizing youth hockey in the community by wearing specialty Rockford Hockey Club sweaters during the game.

Monday, February 23, 2015

WEEK 20 RECAP - ROCKFORD TAKES ONE OF THREE

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By: Brent Hollerud
Photo by John Saraya/Lake Erie Monsters
IceHogs end weekend with split in Lake Erie
Week 20 Recap: 
After winning three games last week, it took a win on Saturday for Rockford to avoid being on the wrong end of a three-game sweep in Week 20. After falling 4-0 Wednesday morning to San Antonio in their annual school day game, the IceHogs dropped the first half of a weekend doubleheader in Cleveland against the Lake Erie Monsters, before bouncing back with a win the following night.

Week 20 Results:                       
Wednesday, Feb. 18, San Antonio 4 vs. Rockford 0        
Friday, Feb. 20, Rockford 2 at Lake Erie 3           
Saturday, Feb. 21, Rockford 3 at Lake Erie 2     

Week 21 Schedule:
Friday, Feb. 27, at Texas, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 28, at Texas, 7 p.m.

Bacon Bits:

-After a weekend split in Lake Erie, the IceHogs enter Week 21 in a three-way tie for first place in the AHL’s Midwest Division with Milwaukee and Grand Rapids

-Rockford’s record in the division now stands at 18-11-3-0, with a 9-7-0-0 mark on the road

-In the ultra-tight Midwest standings, only six points separate the Griffins, Admirals and IceHogs from the fourth place Chicago Wolves, while 11 points separate first place from the fifth place Monsters

-The IceHogs claimed their 16th road win of the season on Saturday, second most in the AHL, and now shows an away record of 16-10-1-1 with four of their next six tilts on the road

-Rookie defenseman Kirill Gotovets and rookie forward Dane Walters both notched their first-career AHL goals over the weekend

-Rockford played six games in nine days, compiling a record of 4-2-0-0 during the busy stretch

-Following Saturday’s game in Lake Erie, the IceHogs began a stretch of six games in 23 days, running through March 17

-The IceHogs will close the season with 16 games in 32 days

-Defenseman T.J. Brennan scored his second power-play goal of the season on Saturday, a season after leading all AHL d-men with 12 power-play markers

-Brennan bagged two assists on Friday and now leads the IceHogs with eight multi-point games

-Brennan’s goal on Saturday broke a 16-game goal-scoring drought, dating back to Jan. 8 at Milwaukee

-Over their past eight games, the IceHogs have been shorthanded 38 times, an average of 4.75 penalty kills per game

-The Hogs PK is 8-38 (78.9%) in those eight games and ranks tied for sixth in the AHL at 86.3% on the season

-Rookie forward Ryan Hartman was returned to Rockford from the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday after becoming the 70th IceHogs skater to play in the NHL after playing in Rockford

-Also returning to Rockford is goaltender Antti Raanta, with the recall of Scott Darling

-Raanta has appeared in one game for the IceHogs this season, stopping 33 shots in a 3-2 win against Texas on Nov. 16

Hot Hog: Week 20
T.J. Brennan    Defenseman (3 GP, 1 G, 2 A, 3 PTS)


Rockford’s leading point producer lived up to the billing in Week 20 as he paced all IceHogs skaters with three points. On Friday night, T.J. Brennan marked assists on both of Rockford’s goals in a 3-2 loss at Lake Erie. Then on Saturday, the rearguard notched his second power-play goal of the season to jump start the Hogs offense in a 3-2 bounce-back win over the Monsters. Overall on the campaign, Brennan leads all Rockford skaters with 9g-27a-36pts, ranking him tied for fourth among all AHL d-men.

Upcoming Games:
Friday, Feb. 27 at Texas Stars: Game starts at 7:30 p.m. The IceHogs escape the cold weather as they take their annual trip to Cedar Park, Texas to take on the defending champion Stars. The weekend doubleheader begins on Friday at the Cedar Park Center, where the IceHogs hold a 7-3-2-0 all-time record.

Saturday, Feb. 28, at Texas Stars: Face-off is at 7 p.m. Rockford finishes their doubleheader down south with Saturday’s rematch against the Stars at Cedar Park Center. The two teams will meet once more this season following the weekend set, when Texas visits the BMO Harris Bank Center on March 22.

Bud Light Hog Talk Monday Night At Mulligan’s and Grill:
Bud Light Hog Talk returns on Monday, Feb. 16 at Mulligan’s Pub and Grill from 6-7 p.m. Mulligan’s is located on North Main St. Fans can join Mike Peck or TJ Hogan from 6-7 p.m. on most Mondays throughout the season, as they chat with IceHogs players, coaches and front office members. The next show will feature Swedish sensation Dennis Rasmussen and Head Coach Ted Dent. Take advantage of food and Bud Light specials at Mulligan’s. The show will be re-aired on Tuesdays from 7-8 p.m. on WIFR’s 23.2 “Antenna TV.”

The IceHogs Broadcasting Network:
Catch every IceHogs game, home and road, in 2014-15 on WIFR’s 23.2, “Antenna TV.” The games can also be viewed on Comcast Cable channel 436, Charter Cable channel 193 or Mediacom 101 in the Rockford market and online through AHLLive.com. Fans can also listen to the action for free on AHLLive.com. For a complete listing of TV stations carrying IceHogs games, visit IceHogs.com. Every broadcast will start with the IceHogs Warm Up 30 minutes prior to puck drop.

Tickets On Sale for 2014-2015!
IceHogs individual game tickets are now on sale! Call (815) 968-5222 to reserve your seats for any IceHogs regular season game during the 2014-15 season. Tickets can also be purchased online at IceHogs.com, in person at the BMO Harris Bank Center Box Office in downtown Rockford, or any Ticketmaster outlet, including Walmart.

Friday, February 13, 2015

ICEHOGS BEGIN THREE-IN-THREE FRIDAY AGAINST ADMIRALS

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By: Brent Hollerud
Photo by Scott Paulus
Rockford makes final trip to Milwaukee

Milwaukee, Wis. 
- After enjoying a relatively light schedule since the All-Star Break, the American Hockey League’s Rockford IceHogs are about to increase their workload. The IceHogs (26-16-4-2) kick off a busy three-game weekend on Friday night, when they head back to the BMO Harris Bradley Center to take on the Milwaukee Admirals (28-13-3-4) for the third time in eight days.

The 7 p.m. puck drop from Wisconsin will be broadcast live locally on 23.2 Antenna TV, as well as online at AHLLive.com.  Television coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with the IceHogs Warm Up pre-game show. Fans can get up-to-the-minute game updates by following the IceHogs on Twitter (@goicehogs).

As they cap off their string of three consecutive games against the Admirals, Rockford will be in an unfamiliar position: second place in their division. With a pair of wins in last weekend’s home-and-home series, Milwaukee leapfrogged the IceHogs in the Midwest Division standings, ending Rockford’s 11-week stay at the top.  Entering Friday’s game, the Admirals hold a five-point edge over the IceHogs, with both teams playing 48 games.

In order to cut into Milwaukee’s lead Friday night, Rockford will need to find a way to end a four game losing streak against their neighbors to the north. The Admirals extended their success over the IceHogs by defending their home rink last Friday with a 4-1 win, before leaving Rockford the following night 7-5 victors in a wild, emotional game.

A Viktor Stalberg hat trick helped pace Milwaukee offensively in Saturday’s thriller, but the IceHogs kept things interesting by scoring three times in the final period, including twice in the final four minutes.  Stalberg burned Rockford with four goals over the home-and-home series.

While the IceHogs are hungry for a bit of redemption against an Admirals club that has had their number lately, Friday night is just the beginning of one of the heaviest stretches of their 2014-15 schedule. Rockford is in Milwaukee for the first of three games in as many nights, and to begin a string of six games in nine days.

A pair of West Division matchups lie on the horizon, as the IceHogs host the AHL-leading Oklahoma City Barons on Saturday night and the San Antonio Rampage on Sunday afternoon. The games against the Barons and Rampage are part of a brief three game homestand at the BMO Harris Bank Center, which wraps up with Wednesday morning’s school day game against San Antonio.

Rockford enters the hectic stretch with a new-look roster after a series of transactions this week, which brought back its captain and touted rookie. Captain Joakim Nordstrom returned from his recall to the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday, and Teuvo Teravainen followed suit when he was reassigned late Thursday night. Veteran defenseman Kyle Cumiskey and rookie forward Ryan Hartman were also recalled to Chicago Thursday night, capping off a week full of roster moves. 

A pair of new faces from the ECHL also could make their Rockford debuts this weekend.  Forward Dane Walters was signed to a pro tryout agreement from the Toledo Walleye on Tuesday, and defenseman Kirill Gotovets was recalled from the Indy Fuel on Thursday.

Next Home Game: Saturday, Feb. 14, vs. Oklahoma City Barons: Game begins at 7 p.m. Rockford hosts the Barons for the first time this season in a Valentine’s Day matchup at the BMO. The first 1,500 fans through the gates will also receive a limited edition IceHogs poster, presented by Hub Printing.

Monday, February 2, 2015

WEEK 17 RECAP: ICEHOGS AND WOLVES SKATE TO SPLIT

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By: Brent Hollerud
Photo by Todd Reicher
Week 17 Results:
Friday, Jan. 30, Chicago 2 vs. Rockford 3 (OT)
Saturday, Jan. 31, Rockford 1 at Chicago 4

Week 18 Schedule:
Friday, Feb. 6, at Milwaukee, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 7, vs. Milwaukee, 7 p.m.   
      
Week 17 Recap: 
The IceHogs picked up a pair of points in their Midwest Division home-and-home series with the Chicago Wolves this past weekend, to begin a string of five-straight games against divisional rivals. Rockford defended their home building with a 3-2 overtime win on Friday, before falling 4-1 at Allstate Arena the following night in the rematch.

Bacon Bits:
-Goalie Michael Leighton is unbeaten in regulation (5-0-2) over his last eight appearances, dating back to a Dec. 31, 2014 game in Grand Rapids

-During the same stretch, Leighton has a 1.15 goals against average, a .965 save percentage and two shutouts

-Of those eight games, five of them extended beyond regulation time

-Overall, Leighton ranks in the AHL’s top five in goals against average (2.01, T-4th), save percentage (.931, T-2nd) and shutouts (4, T-2nd)

-The IceHogs completed their fifth home-and-home series this season (all against Chicago or Milwaukee) and the team is 2-6-2-0, but have not won any of the 10 games in regulation

-In non-home-and-home situations, the IceHogs are 24-8-2-2

-Rockford has three home-and-homes remaining on their regular season slate, including this weekend against Milwaukee

-Jamie Wise scored his first-career overtime goal on Friday night, giving the IceHogs their first OT win since 11/21/14, snapping a four-game OT losing streak

-Center Drew LeBlanc notched Rockford’s lone goal on Saturday in Chicago, his first marker since 12/3/14

-Saturday’s loss against the Wolves came in their fifth matchup against their in-state rival in the month of January, a stretch the IceHogs finished 3-2-0-0

-Only two meetings remain on the schedule between Rockford and Chicago, the next comes March 15 at Allstate Arena

-Rockford just needs two standings points over their last two games against the Wolves to clinch the Illinois Lottery Cup

-The IceHogs drew their second straight sellout on Friday night (6,339), the fourth overall on the season, and are expected to be sold out on Saturday once again

-Defenseman Adam Clendening was traded to the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night, in exchange for 18-year-old blueliner Gustav Forsling

-After the Clendening’s trade, the core seven players for Rockford from the end of the 2012-13 season are now in the NHL with other teams (Clendening and Ryan Stanton-Vancouver; Jimmy Hayes, Dylan Olsen and Brandon Pirri-Florida, Jeremy Morin-Columbus; Carter Hutton-Nashville)

-Defenseman Klas Dahlbeck is the only regular still on Rockford’s roster from two seasons ago

-The IceHogs are in the middle of a stretch in which the team will play just four games in 19 days between 1/15-2/12

-Beginning Feb.13, Rockford will play six games in nine days

Hot Hog: Week 17
Goaltender Michael Leighton (1-0-0, .933 SV%, 1.93 GAA)   

Goalie Michael Leighton finished off a sterling January with his fourth win of the month on Friday. Leighton stopped 28 of the 30 Chicago Wolves shots fired at him in helping Rockford to a 3-2 overtime win. In January, the veteran backstop went 4-0-2-0 with .969 save percentage and a 1.05 goals against average. Leighton recorded two shutouts in the month, not including a 1-0 overtime loss to Milwaukee on 1/9/15.

Upcoming Games:
Friday, Feb. 6 at Milwaukee Admirals: Game starts at 7 p.m. The IceHogs begin their February schedule in the BMO Harris Bradley Center. The Hogs have a 3-4-1-0 record against the Ads this season. Rockford holds a 22-17-1-2 record all-time in Milwaukee.

Saturday, Feb. 7, vs. Milwaukee Admirals: Puck drops at 7 p.m. The IceHogs pay homage to their all-time leading goal scorer when they return to the BMO for Jeremy Morin Bobblehead Night against the Admirals. The first 2,500 fans will receive a bobblehead of the former IceHog, courtesy of Dental Dimensions. 

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