03/02/2015 11:18 AM
By: Nate Haeni
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.
-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 Pokka, Kirill Gotovets, Dillon Fournier, Justin 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).
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.