Rockford can go without seeing the Oklahoma City Barons for another seven months.
The bubble burst on Rockford’s five-game winning streak and overall recent upswing in the form of a 7-0 pummeling Friday night in Oklahoma City.
Hannu Toivonen made his fifth start in six games but was pulled in favor of Alec Richards during the first intermission. Toivonen allowed three goals on nine shots. Richards didn’t fair much better, letting another three by himself in the second period. Richards stopped 14 of 18 Barons overall in finishing the game.
Toivonen has been pulled from 8 of his 41 starts this season. Four of those have come against the Barons.
Friday, Oklahoma City scored all seven of their goals at even strength. The Barons did go 0 for 2 on the power play but one of those lasted just 26 seconds and by the time they got their second chance the score was already 6-0.
The IceHogs finish the season series with OKC at a record of 1-4-1-0. They were dominated 29-16 (-13) in the scoring column and their lone win came back on Jan 2 in Oklahoma City when the IceHogs needed six goals to defeat the Barons 6-5.
Colin McDonald (a former 2003 second round pick of Edmonton out of Providence College) scored twice in Friday’s route. Those two represented goals 35 and 36 on the year for McDonald. Nine of those have come in the six games with the IceHogs. Prior to this season McDonald, 26, appeared to be nothing more than a journeyman minor leaguer. But his 36 goals alone surpassed his prior career total of 34 (226gp) coming into the season.
Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers stopped 33 IceHogs’ shots in the shutout, his first of the season (14-13-4, .902, 3.03gaa). He goes 4-0-0-0 vs Rockford on the year. Martin Gerber was in goal for the only Barons’ loss.
Zach Stortini got tossed early in the third period for spearing. The incident spawned a minor brawl between Stortini and Kyle Hagel and Wade Brookbank and Andrew Lord. It also marked Lord’s third fight vs Rockford this year.
This was a huge two points for Oklahoma City as they battle with three other teams for a spot in the AHL playoffs. With the victory, the Barons have 85 points and sit in the 6-spot in the AHL West division. However, just three points separate teams 4-7 with Chicago (86pts, 4 gms remaining), Peoria (85pts, 5gms), OKC (85pts, 4gms) and San Antonio (83pts, 5gms) all vying for two spots.
We say two because if the 5-seed in the West finishes with more points than the 4-seed in the North, the West team flips over into the North division playoffs taking the 4-spot. Currently the Toronto Marlies sit in that 4-seed in the North with 81 points and 5 games left on their schedule. So it does appear the West division will be sending five teams to the playoffs as it has appeared since mid-December.
The loss also bumps Rockford’s record back down to the .500 mark (33-33-4-5, 75pts). They’ll continue their five-game road trip on Sunday in Texas versus the Stars. They’ll be in San Antonio on Tuesday before returning to Illinois to wrap their season. The IceHogs conclude their home schedule with games Friday and Saturday at the MetroCentre. On Sunday they wrap their season against Chicago at Allstate Arena in Rosemont.
We only saw bits and pieces of this game so there isn’t much more we can share.
Jeff Taffe led the team with five shots on goal but he was also a minus-3. Taffe shared the latter distinction with Mathis Olimb, Garnet Exelby, Dylan Olsen, Jassen Cullimore, Shawn Lalonde and Brandon Pirri. Bill Peters had the line blender rather quickly as you could probably imagine.
This on a night Rockford welcomed three healthy bodies back to the lineup. Kyle Beach, Brandon Bollig and center Pete Leblanc (former Hawks’ pick on an AHL contract with the IceHogs) all returned. This pushed Mike Hedden (single-game PTO contract up from Toledo), Zach Torquato and Andy Bohmbach out.
Chris DiDomenico and Jimmy Hayes were the only recent Hogs’ additions to remain in the lineup with Beach, Bollig and Leblanc coming back. Hayes was a minus-1 with another 3 shots in his second professional game.
Rockford is still without Igor Makarov, Ivan Vishnevskiy and Jeremy Morin due to injury. Evan Brophey is out for the remainder of the season serving a seven-game suspension. Makarov is closest to returning.
DAVID GILBERT ARRIVES SUNDAY
Having just seen his Quebec junior league team eliminated from postseason, Blackhawks draft selection and forward David Gilbert will be joining the Rockford IceHogs for the final five games of their season.
The IceHogs will sign Gilbert to an amateur try-out (ATO) contract for the remainder of the season, same as they did with Jimmy Hayes earlier in the week. Gilbert, 20, has always been penciled into next year’s IceHogs team and now that his junior career is over he’ll make the permanent transition to pro hockey.
Gilbert ( jil-bear ) is expected to join the team this weekend and could be in the lineup on Sunday when Rockford visits the Texas Stars.
At the end of the 2009-10 season, Gilbert signed an ATO with Rockford on April 1, 2010 and appeared in the final regular season game on April 10, 2010 at San Antonio. He skated on a line with Jake Dowell and Brandon Bollig. Gilbert registered an assist on a Richard Petiot goal in that game and finished with two shots on goal. He did not appear in any of the IceHogs four postseason games.
The Blackhawks made David Gilbert their seventh-round and final pick (#209 overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. A 6-2, 185 pound left-shooting center out of Chateauguay, Quebec, Gilbert is known for his playmaking ability and versatility.
In the QMJHL this season, Gilbert posted 28 goals, 23 assists and a plus-22 with 39 penalty minutes over 52 games played. In his team’s short-lived postseason, Gilbert posted 2 goals and an assist. He was also a minus-5.
Gilbert’s Acadie-Bathurst Titans were eliminated from the QMJHL playoffs by the Victoriaville Tigres on Wednesday in the form of a 4-game sweep. The story of the series was Titan goaltender Olivier Roy, a member of the 2011 Canada U20 Championships team, getting run from the first three games of the series, then sitting in game 4. An Edmonton Oilers’ prospect, Roy was signed to his entry-level contract by the team the following day.
Victoriaville’s series win was an upset. The Tigres finished the season with a record of 35-29-1-3 (.544) to Acadie-Bathurst’s 44-21-2-1 (.669).
In the series, Gilbert posted a power play goal in Game 1 to tie the game 3-3, but Victoriaville would go on to win 7-4. Gilbert scored a meaningless short-handed late in Game 3 to trim the Tigres lead to 5-2, a game Gilbert’s team would lose 6-3. In Game 4, Gilbert had his hand in what was the go-ahead goal for Bathurst in the second period, but Victoriaville came back to tie and finished the game in overtime, 4-3, completing the series sweep.