Ducks Take 2-1 Series Lead Over Chicago, Beat Hawks 2-1 In Game 3

By Jon Fromi

After wresting home ice advantage from the Anaheim Ducks Tuesday night, the Chicago Blackhawks gave it right back to their Western Conference Final opponent. Thursday, Frederik Andersen and the Ducks came out and made a pair of goals stand up. Anaheim took a 2-1 series lead with a 2-1 Game 3 victory at the United Center.

First Period-The Hawks came out strong early, with Corey Perry making a sprawling play to prevent a scoring chance by Joakim Nordstrom. Corey Crawford had to make a quick stop at the 2:45 mark when Kyle Cumiskey’s pass was picked off by Jiri Sekac and sent to the net. Ryan Kesler took advantage of a muffed pass attempt by Brent Seabrook late in the fourth minute to make a beeline for Crawford. He couldn’t get the puck settled and the shot was wide.

Perry tripped Johnny Oduya 5:39 into the period to set up the man advantage. Chicago couldn’t convert and Kesler got a shot on goal as the penalty expired. Read more »

Ducks take Game 1 in Anaheim 4-1

By Brad Vandenberk

Finally, after waiting 10 days, game one of the Western Conference Final was played at the Honda Center in beautiful Anaheim. The Hawks have been trying to stay in game shape after disposing of the Wild in 4 straight games. There was one more test that stood in their way to reaching the Stanley Cup and it was the Ducks. They came to play this afternoon, but it was the Ducks who took game one with a 4-1 victory. Brad Richards scored the lone goal for the Hawks with 39 seconds left in the second period. That would be all she wrote from there.

Corey Crawford and Frederik Andersen were in net for this one and Andersen looked sharp, absolutely robbing Patrick Kane on a wide open net. David Rundblad replaced Michel Rozsival who broke his ankle and will not be able to resume playing until next season. Rundblad was very noticeable but in a bad way, almost solely being responsible for 2 of the Ducks goals. Read more »

Lindbloom’s View: Still Amazing After All These Years

Amazing_20150514Simply A-maze-ing

Labyrinth – A place constructed of or full of intricate passageways and blind alleys;
Something extremely complex or tortuous in structure, arrangement, or character.

By Rich Lindbloom

The partial definition of the word “labyrinth” above would seem to be an apt description of the NHL Playoffs. Actually, life resembles a labyrinth if you stop to think about it. Sometimes I think my life is more about not falling through the gaping holes looking to swallow me up around every bend, then getting to the finish line. Heck, maybe heaven is the place where we find out we no longer have to worry about stumbling into the traps set along the path of life. Hell, for me at least, would be trying to guide the ball past holes 10 and 11 for eternity. Sort of like Sisyphus trying to get that boulder to the top of the hill, only to see it come tumbling down, again and again.  Read more »

Desperate Hogs Strike Back, 4-1 win in Game 3 puts Rockford back in series

By Chris Block

Returning home for Games 3 through 5 of their best-of-seven series down 2-0 to Grand Rapids, the Rockford IceHogs took to the ice on Wednesday night with an automatic sense of urgency in an almost must-win situation.

The IceHogs exhibited that urgency and desperation before a crowd of just 1,780 at BMO Harris Bank Center in a fiery and physical opening twenty minutes in Game 3.

That dominant first period set the table for an eventual 4-1 IceHogs victory.

Mark McNeill scored his 2nd goal of the postseason just 25 seconds into Grand Rapids’ first power play of the game, a controversial five minute major assessed midway into the first period. The breakaway goal gave the IceHogs a 1-0 lead. Rockford’s penalty kill kept a consistent pressure on the Griffins’ power play throughout the 5 minute kill and prevented the visitor’s from tying the game.

Later, when Rockford got its first chance on the power play, Ryan Hartman banked a pass to himself at the Grand Rapids blue line and strode in alone the same way McNeill had earlier and beat Griffins’ starter Tom McCollum with 1:24 to play in the opening frame. Hartman’s goal would stand as the game-winner.

“We knew this was a must win for us and we came out in the first period and were a desperate hockey team,” said goaltender Michael Leighton, who made 23 saves in Rockford’s 4-1 win in Game 3. Read more »

IceHogs leave Grand Rapids trailing 2-0

By Chris Block

Before the IceHogs left for Games 1 and 2 in Grand Rapids earlier this week, Rockford head coach Ted Dent spoke of his team’s focus needing to be on containing Teemu Pulkkinen and keeping their composure in a building they haven’t had much success at in recent years.

After outplaying Grand Rapids in much of Game 1, but losing the decision 5-3 because of their own costly mental and physical errors, Rockford had to feel some sense of reassurance knowing they really only beat themselves in the series opener.

Well, on Friday, Rockford was resoundingly blown out of Van Andel Arena.

Grand Rapids allowed the first goal of the game when Spencer Abbott setup Brandon Mashinter for a one timer than was blown through Tom McCollum’s five hole at 6:18 of the first period.

But the Griffins responded by scoring five unanswered goals in route to a 5-1 final. Read more »

Blackhawks Sweep The Wild, Suffer Key Loss As Rozsival Likely Done For Season

By Chris Block

When the second-round series became official, about the last probable outcome most people would have come up with was a Blackhawks sweep of the hottest team in the NHL since January.

Yet, Chicago did just that. And now the Hawks are one step closer (8 wins, in fact) from their 3rd Stanley Cup in 6 seasons.

Thursday night in St. Paul, the Blackhawks completed the 4-game sweep of the Minnesota Wild by a 4-3 score in captivating fashion before what was a left of the sold out Xcel Energy Center crowd by the time the final horn sounded.

In doing so, the Blackhawks become the first team from either conference to advance into the Conference Finals. They now await the winner of the Anaheim-Calgary series, which resumes on Friday night in Calgary with the Ducks up 2-1 in that duel.

It could be up to 7 to 10 days before the Blackhawks play again, depending on how long the other series go as neither Conference Final series can begin until the series currently going have concluded.

Brent Seabrook, Andrew Shaw, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa scored for the visitors in the series-clinching victory. Read more »

IceHogs Beat Themselves in Game 1; Pulkinnen Hat-Trick Leads Grand Rapids to 5-3 Win

By Chris Block

Going into the Game 1 of the this Western Conference Semifinal series with Grand Rapids, the Rockford IceHogs had one primary focus – try to contain Griffins’ right winger Teemu Pulkkinen.

Rockford failed in that objective in Wednesday’s series opener as the Detroit Red Wings super-prospect struck for 3 goals in a 5-3 win over the visiting IceHogs.

Grand Rapids scored two minutes into the game when Michael Leighton misjudged a weak Kevin Porter backhander. The IceHogs tied the game 8:41 into the second frame when they took advantage of a terrible Griffins turnover in front of their own net and goalie Tom McCollum had no chance on a Mark McNeill one-timer from in tight.

Then the Pulkkinen show took center stage when he stored 3 minutes and 23 seconds apart later in the second to take a 2-goal lead heading into the third. Stephen Johns got the IceHogs back into the game with a snipe at 3:16 of the third period. Then Garret Ross tied the game when he tipped a Johns’ blast with 10:40 left in regulation.

But, the game was decided when the IceHogs allowed Pulkkinen to go the their net unchecked with under 3 minutes to go in a tied affair. Read more »

Crawford Blanks Wild, Blackhawks Lead Series 3-0

By Jon Fromi

The Chicago Blackhawks got a huge performance in net by Corey Crawford Tuesday night, allowing them to take a commanding lead in their Western Conference Semifinal with Minnesota. Crawford’s fourth career playoff shutout allowed a Patrick Kane power play tally to be the difference in a 1-0 Game 3 Chicago win. With the win, the Blackhawks go up 3-0 on the Wild in the best-of-seven series.

First Period-Corey Crawford was kept busy early as the Wild tried to capitalize on the vocal home crowd. Ninety seconds in, the Chicago goalie knocked away a laser from Ryan Suter and Niklas Hjalmarsson got in the way of Tomas Vanek’s rebound attempt. Crawford stopped four Minnesota shots in the first four minute as the ice was tilted toward his crease. Read more »

Rockford IceHogs 2nd Round Playoff Schedule; Calder Cup Western Conference Semifinal versus Grand Rapids Griffins

2015 Calder Cup Western Conference Semifinals Series

Grand Rapids Griffins (#2) vs. Rockford IceHogs (#4)

Game 1: Wed May 6 – 6pm – @ Grand Rapids
Game 2: Fri May 8 – 6pm – @ Grand Rapids
Game 3: Wed May 13 – 7pm – BMO Harris Bank Center
Game 4: Thu May 14 – 7pm – BMO Harris Bank Center
Game 5: Sun May 17 – 4pm – BMO Harris Bank Center

Game 6: Tue May 19 – 6pm – @ Grand Rapids
Game 7: Wed May 20 – 6pm – @ Grand Rapids

-All Times Central
–For those with tickets to the game in Rockford, Game 3 is “Game D”, Game 4 (E) and Game 5 (F).

Tickets for Games 3-5 are available through TicketMaster or the BMO Harris Bank Center Box Office at 815-968-5222.

If you live in the Rockford region, games are televised on digital channel 23.2 Antenna TV. That’s channel 436 on Comcast in the Rockford area only. 247 on Comcast in Rochelle; 101 on Mediacom Cable; 193 for Charter Communications.

Hawks stars tame Wild to take a 2-0 series lead

By Brad Vandenberk

The Wild came into game 2 of this Central division final not having lost a back to back game since the All-star game in January. The Hawks were confident, even though they squandered a 3-0 lead in game 1, but still found a way to close it out. Jonathan Toews opens the scoring shorthanded, then it was Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp who did the rest. Kane scored 2 goals, one being an empty netter and Sharp restoring the 2 goal lead early in the third period.

Corey Crawford faced off against Devan Dubnyk who has been hot of late. Crawford literally stood on his head to keep the Wild off the score sheet until Matt Dumba found a way but it wasn’t enough. Kris Versteeg remained out of the line up with a lower body injury creating a spot for Teuvo Teravainen who played great and has a bright future. Read more »