Monday, January 26, 2015

WEEK 16 RECAP: BACK-TO-BACK SHUTOUTS HAVE HOGS CRUISING INTO ALL-STAR BREAK

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By: Brent Hollerud
Photo by Todd Reicher
Rockford finishes Week 16 with two wins, two shutouts

Week 16 Recap: 
After falling to Chicago Monday afternoon to begin the week, the IceHogs responded with a pair of shutout victories to send them into the AHL’s All-Star break on a high note, and in sole posession of second place in the Western Conference. Michael Leighton helped Rockford eke out a 1-0 win in Iowa on Thursday night before Scott Darling followed up with a shutout of his own as the IceHogs blanked Utica 3-0 Saturday in front of a sold-out crowd at the BMO Harris Bank Center.

Week 16 Results:                    
Monday, Jan. 19, Chicago 4 vs. Rockford 1         
Thursday, Jan. 22, Rockford 1 at Iowa 0         
Saturday, Jan. 24, Utica 0 vs. Rockford 3         

Week 17 Schedule:              
Friday, Jan. 30, vs. Chicago, 7 p.m.       
Saturday, Jan. 31, at Chicago, 7 p.m.        

Bacon Bits:

-For just the second time in franchise history, the IceHogs recorded shutouts in back-to-back games

-The only previous time Rockford completed that feat was when Ronnie Vogel and Michel Robinsoncombined for two shutouts on Feb. 8-10, 2006

-In January, the goalie tandem of Michael Leighton (3-0-2, 2 SO, 0.89 GAA, .974 SPCT) and Scott Darling (2-2-0, 2 SO, 1.97 GAA, .938 SPCT) have combined to go 5-2-2-0 with four shutouts, 1.30 GAA and a .962 SPCT in nine games

-Leighton earned his fourth shutout of the season and the 40th of his AHL career Thursday in Iowa

-Leighton is now one shutout away from being tied with Gil Mayer (1949-63) for second place on the league’s all-time shutout list, and sits five behind record-holder Johnny Bower

-Leighton has been in goal for three 1-0 games this season and has a record of 1-0-1-1 in those three games

-Darling recorded his second shutout of the season on Saturday, Rockford’s seventh overall blanking in 2014-15, matching a franchise record set in 2004-05

-Rockford is currently riding a team shutout streak of 121:43

-Over Rockford’s last six games, the team has allowed just nine goals, three of them coming in the third period on 1/19/15 against Chicago

-Rockford is 6-2-1-1 over their past 10 games, but are averaging just 1.83 goals per game during that stretch

-After recording just one point in his last seven games, defenseman Adam Clendening registered his second multi-point game of the season on Saturday, marking two assists

-Forward Pierre-Cedric Labrie has goals in three of his last five games after potting three over his first 33 outings

-The IceHogs recorded their third sellout of the season on Saturday, drawing their second largest crowd of the campaign at 6,402

-Rockford begins a stretch on Friday of five straight games with Chicago and Milwaukee running through Feb. 13

-After Feb. 13, Rockford will face their top two rivals Chicago (2) and Milwaukee (1) just three more times combined in 2014-15 over their final 27 games

Hot Hog: Week 16

Left Wing     Pierre-Cedric Labrie    (3 GP, 2g, +2)    
Veteran forward and Alternate Captain Pierre-Cedric Labrie has hit his offensive stride as of late, putting up a pair of goals and finishing with a +2 rating in Week 16. Labrie has scored in each of his last three home games, after only scoring three in his first 33 contests. In addition to being a physical presence for the IceHogs, the Baie-Comeau, Quebec native has been a lynchpin of Rockford’s penalty kill. Labrie has found a shorthanded breakaway in three straight contests, grabbing a goal on Monday against Chicago. The 28-year-old leads the IceHogs with 83 penalty minutes in 38 games played.

Upcoming Games:
Friday, Jan. 30 vs. Chicago Wolves: Puck drops at 7 p.m. The IceHogs kick off another Illinois Lottery Cup home-and-home series when they host the Wolves at the BMO Harris Bank Center. The first 2,500 fans will receive a free IceHogs phone cover, courtesy of BMO Harris Bank. The Friday night showdown begins with another Blues Flame Lounge Pre-Game Party. Rockford only needs three standings points out of their last four games with Chicago to to clinch their second Lottery Cup title.

Saturday, Jan. 31, at Chicago Wolves: Face-off is set for 7 p.m. Rockford finishes their weekend back-to-back with their Illinois Lottery Cup rivals when they visit Allstate Arena for the fifth of six times this season. The IceHogs have a 3-1-0-0 record this season in Rosemont, including a 3-2 shootout win in their last trip on Jan. 17.

Bud Light Hog Talk Monday Night At Mulligan’s and Grill:
Bud Light Hog Talk returns on Monday, Feb. 2 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 center Mark McNeill 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.

DARLING BLANKS COMETS

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By: Ryan Harr
Photo by Greg Hamil
Rockford, Ill. – For the second straight game the Rockford IceHogs were able to shut down their opponent. This time it was Scott Darling’s turn as he stopped all 31 Utica Comets chances to help the Hogs to a 3-0 victory in front of a sold out BMO Harris Bank Center on Pink in the Rink Night.

The Hogs picked up their fifth victory in their last six contests to head into the All-Star break on a positive note, and that includes shutouts in four of their last nine games.

Darling’s shutout backed Michael Leighton’s on Thursday, marking the first time that Rockford shutout their opponents in back-to-back games since Ronnie Vogel and Michel Robinson did it on Feb. 8-10, 2006. The shut out also was the IceHogs seventh of the season which is one shy of a franchise record that was set in the 2004-05 campaign when Robinson had seven by himself.

Rockford came out in the first period and tallied the game's first maker with 2:16 remaining in the opening frame as Klas Dahlbeck fired a shot over the shoulder of Jacob Markstrom. With the Comets Brendan Gaunce in the penalty box for two minutes it appeared that Utica was able to successfully clear off the infraction, but the IceHogs won a faceoff and Dahlbeck fired a shot from the point to beat Markstrom to pick up his fourth goal of the season.

The two Western Conference foes returned for the second stanza and it looked like the Comets would have a chance to erase the 1-0 deficit when the Garret Ross took a slashing penalty but it was the home squad who gained the momentum.

Down a skater, Rockford fed off the energy from their penalty kill unit as Pierre-Cedric Labrie picked up a loose puck and raced away from a Utica defender and was all alone on the Markstrom but he was stonewalled. The Hogs again had a chance for a shorthanded tally later on the same infraction as they had a three-on-one rush but once more Markstrom kept the game 1-0. Finally, a few seconds after the Ross minor, Dennis Rasmussen poked a loose puck to Adam Clendening in the defensive zone. Clendening skated with the puck towards the far ice before lofting a pass to the stick of Ross and he banged home his team-leading 14th goal of the season beating Markstrom over the glove with 10:52 in the middle period.

The Hogs later capped off the scoring in the third period when Pierre-Cedric Labrie notched his sixth of the season with 16:08 remaining in the tilt. Labrie booked his third tally in his last five tilts with help from Viktor Svedberg and Clendening.

Darling improved his record to 11-6-2-1 with his second shutout of the season while Markstrom made 36 saves and suffered just his fourth loss of the season.

Next Home Game: Friday, Jan. 30 vs. Chicago. Puck drops at 7 p.m. The IceHogs kick off another Illinois Lottery Cup home-and-home series when they host the Wolves at the BMO Harris Bank center. The first 2,500 fans will receive a free IceHogs phone cover, courtesy of BMO Harris Bank.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

HOGS PULL THROUGH IN SHOOTOUT, DOWN WOLVES

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By:
Photo By Ross Dettman

Leighton shines again as Rockford takes game one of Lottery Cup doubleheader
Rosemont, Ill. - After ending up on the wrong side in their last two forays beyond regulation time, the Rockford IceHogs (23-12-4-2) finally played the role of the walk-off winner as they defeated the Chicago Wolves (19-15-4-1) 3-2 in a shootout in front of a crowd of 15,225 at Allstate Arena. The surging IceHogs now have grabbed points in six of their last seven games. 
The sharpshooting T.J. Brennan provided the only goal in the breakaway competition, and goaltender Michael Leighton turned in yet another strong performance, stopping all three Wolves shooters to grab the second point for the IceHogs. The Rockford goaltender stopped 44 shots en route to helping his team earn their fifth victory over their Illinois Lottery Cup rivals this season, and their third in four tries on the road. 
After Leighton shut the door on Chicago's two most prolific goal scorers in Ty Rattie and Shane Harper, Brennan notched the shootout-winner when he wired a snap shot just inside the left post, beating Wolves netminder Jordan Binnington (19 saves). Chicago's last hope in Philip McRae was stymied by the left pad of Leighton, which clinched the win for a Rockford team that was under siege for most of the night. 
The opportunistic IceHogs were able to push the game past regulation despite being outshot 40-18 through three periods. Not far removed from a stretch where they struggled to score more than one goal while compiling shot totals in the 40's and 50's, Rockford was able to make the most of what a stingy Chicago defense gave them on Saturday. 
While the IceHogs were held to only five shots in each of the first two periods, in each case they were able to make one of them count, taking a 2-1 lead into the third period. Rockford's 10 shots through 40 minutes and 18 through regulation time were both season lows. 
Following three previous meetings at Allstate Arena had come and gone without either team finding a first period goal, the IceHogs and Wolves started Saturday by trading goals in the game's first eight minutes. 
Magnus Paajarvi, one of Chicago's newest additions, drew first blood at 6:14 with an impressive display of hand-eye coordination. Paajarvi, playing in his seventh game with the Wolves after being reassigned from the St. Louis Blues, batted down a Stephen Johns clearing attempt and quickly threw a wrist shot through Leighton's five-hole. 
The Chicago lead was short-lived, as the IceHogs got a goal of their own only 1:49 later when Ryan Hartman cashed in on a Wolves penalty. After leading the breakout from behind his goal line, Adam Clendening threw the Chicago defenders out of sync with a drop pass to Peter Regin, who quickly forwarded the puck to a streaking Hartman. The rookie blew past the flatfooted defense and froze Binnington with a quick move before depositing his seventh of the season. 
Rockford was able to find the net again on their next official shot on goal, registered over 16 minutes later. Mark McNeill grabbed his 12th goal of the season, and fourth in four games against Chicago, burying a one-timer at 4:27 of the second period. After winning a puck battle in the corner, linemate Phillip Danault found a waiting McNeill in the high slot, who used the traffic in front to beat Binnington to the blocker side. Garret Ross picked up the secondary assist. 
The lone goal in the third period belonged to the Wolves' Jeremy Welsh, who cleaned up a rebound on the power play to even the score at two with under 10 minutes remaining on the clock. 
Chicago had plenty of other chances in the third period, outshooting the IceHogs 16-8 in the final frame. But once again it was Leighton who stood equal to the task, making several key stops to prevent the Wolves from taking the lead again. 
For Leighton, it was the third-consecutive start - and fourth in his last five - that extended past regulation time. Over the same same stretch, the Petrolia, Ontario native shows a 3-0-1-1 record, with an astonishing .963 save percentage.
The game had an unmistakable physical tone to it, spurred both by the two teams' deep rivalry and Chicago's recent acquisition of forward Adam Burish. Burish, along with fellow former Chicago Blackhawk Ben Eager, were the catalysts of a scrum late in the first period that resulted in 52 minutes in penalties. 
With the win, Rockford takes a commanding lead in the race for the Illinois Lottery Cup, holding a seven-point edge over their intrastate rivals with five games to play. The rivals will have Sunday off before they reunite for the home-and-home finale in Rockford on Monday afternoon.
Next Home Game: Monday, Jan. 19 vs. Chicago Wolves. Puck drops at 1 p.m. The IceHogs host the Wolves for their annual Martin Luther King Day game at the BMO Harris Bank Center. The first 1,000 kids under age 14 through the gates to the Illinois Lottery Cup match will leave with a free IceHogs drawstring bag, courtesy of Pepsi. Fans are also encouraged to stick around after the game to take the ice with their favorite players in the first “Skate With The Hogs” of the new year.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

ILLINOIS LOTTERY CUP SHOWDOWN IN ROSEMONT

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By:
RFD at CHI
Rockford, Ill.- Coming off their first home shutout in nearly three years, the Rockford IceHogs hope to carry the momentum on the road as they head east for an Illinois Lottery Cup matchup with the Chicago Wolves at Allstate Arena.

The puck hits the ice at 7 p.m. for the seventh of 12 meetings against the Wolves this season. All the action can be seen live on 23.2 Antenna TV or online with AHL Live (ahllive.com), beginning at 6:30 p.m. with the pregame show, “IceHogs Warm Up.”

Rockford blanked the Iowa Wild on Friday night at the BMO Harris Bank Center behind Scott Darling’s 30-save performance. The shutout was the first on home ice since February of 2012, but it marked the fifth of the season for the Hogs.

The IceHogs skate into Rosemont with confidence, ending a three game winless streak with Friday’s victory, and playing in a building in which the Hogs have had success at thus far on the campaign. Two of Rockford’s five shutouts this season have come at Allstate Arena, including their most recent visit when Michael Leighton turned away all 31 shots faced on Jan. 3.

In six games against Chicago this season, the IceHogs are leading the Illinois Lottery Cup standings with a record of 4-1-1-0 and allowing just 1.83 goals against to the Wolves.

Chicago comes into the contest tied for third in the Midwest Division standings with 42 points, eight behind the IceHogs at the top. The Wolves were handed a 5-1 loss on Friday to the visiting Lake Erie Monsters, dropping Chicago to a 2-4-1-0 record over their past seven contests.

Next Home Game: Monday, Jan. 19 vs. Chicago Wolves. Puck drops at 1 p.m. The IceHogs host the Wolves for their annual Martin Luther King Day game at the BMO Harris Bank Center. The first 1,000 kids under age 14 through the gates to the Illinois Lottery Cup match will leave with a free IceHogs drawstring bag, courtesy of Pepsi. Fans are also encouraged to stick around after the game to take the ice with their favorite players in the first “Skate With The Hogs” of the new year.

HOGS SHUTOUT WILD AT THE BMO

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By: Ryan Harr
Photo by Todd Reicher
Rockford, Ill. – The Rockford IceHogs (22-14-4-2) scored the opening goal of the game from Brandon Mashinter and that’s all they would need as they defeated the Iowa Wild (13-23-1-1) by the score of 4-0 Friday night at the BMO Harris Bank Center.

IceHogs goaltender Scott Darling was sharp in the cage as he stopped all 30 shots he faced to pick up his 10th professional shutout and 10th win of the season. The shutout was Rockford’s fifth of the campaign, most since the 2007-2008 season (Corey Crawford-3 and Wade Flaherty-2), and the first IceHogs home shutout since Carter Hutton had one on Feb. 6, 2012, a 1-0 overtime victory over the Chicago Wolves.

The Hogs netted the opening goal six and a half minutes into the first frame as T.J. Brennan was on the half-boards. Brennan passed the puck through some traffic in front of the Wild’s John Curry and found Mashinter, who deflected it home for his eight goal of the season. Brennan and Pokka got credited with an assist. Pokka has three points (three assists) in his last four games.

The Hogs added a pair of goals in the second period to make it a 3-0 game in the middle frame. Dennis Rasmussen picked up a loose puck in the left circle and backhanded it over the left shoulder of Curry to tally his eighth goal of the season 2:59 into the second period.

Less than three minutes later, Labrie lit the lamp to put an early end to Curry’s night with 14:12 remaining in the middle stanza. Labrie gained possession of a loose puck behind the Wild net and wrapped around the cage before sneaking it past Curry.

Already leading by a trio of goals, Garret Ross finished off the scoring at the 6:41 mark of the third period. Ross tallied his team leading 13th marker of the season as he a banged home a loose puck on the power play. Matt Carey and Brennan each chipped in with an assist.

Brennan finished his night with two assists, and Mashinter added one goal and one assist. The game marked Brennan’s team leading seventh multi-point game and Mashinter’s fifth multi-point effort of the season.

Rockford’s penalty kill unit successfully killed of all five chances and has allowed the opposition only two goals in their last 36 chances dating back to Dec. 28. 2014.

Prior to tonight’s matchup, Curry came into the tilt stopping 71 of 73 shots he faced against the IceHogs but allowed three goals on 10 shots in 25:48 to take the loss.

Next Home Game: Monday, Jan. 19 vs. Chicago Wolves. Puck drops at 1 p.m. The IceHogs host the Wolves for their annual Martin Luther King Day game at the BMO Harris Bank Center. The first 1,000 kids under age 14 through the gates to the Illinois Lottery Cup match will leave with a free IceHogs drawstring bag, courtesy of Pepsi. Fans are also encouraged to stick around after the game to take the ice with their favorite players in the first “Skate With The Hogs” of the new year. 

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