By Chris Block
The American Hockey League dealt the IceHogs a significant blow on Tuesday for Rockford’s part in this past Saturday night’s bench-clearing brawl with the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Rockford was issued 11-game suspensions in all, while Grand Rapids will have center Louis-Marc Aubry suspended for 6 games and right wing Triston Grant suspended for 1 game.
Rob Flick received a mandatory 6-game suspension for being the first IceHogs’ player to jump off the bench and get involved in the brawl. Aubry’s suspension matched Flick’s for being identified as the first Grand Rapids player to jump off the Griffins’ bench.
The newest IceHogs player, left winger Kenndal McArdle (who was playing in just his second game as a member of the IceHogs in Saturday’s night’s contest) was suspended 1 game. McArdle was issued a game misconduct on Saturday night for jumping off the bench and being the Third Man In an ongoing fight.
Wade Brookbank was also suspended for one game, as was Kyle Beach, whose actions precipitated the Griffins leaving their bench.
IceHogs head coach Ted Dent was also suspended two games. Dent will serve his suspension this weekend when the IceHogs host the Chicago Wolves on Friday and then the Oklahoma City Barons on Saturday night.
The IceHogs have now accumulated 25-games in suspensions over the first 41 games of the season. The list: Andrew Shaw (7), Rob Flick (6), Shawn Lalonde (3), Kyle Beach (2), Ted Dent (2), Dylan Olsen (2), Wade Brookbank (2), Kenndal McArdle (1).
As noted on the site yesterday, Flick served the first game of his six-game suspension when he was held out of Monday’s 6-3 loss to Texas by the league. Flick will be eligible to return on February 8th at Peoria.
These suspensions now leave the IceHogs with less than a full team heading into their next game on Friday, when Rockford hosts the Chicago Wolves.
If Joe Lavin (right wrist) returns on Friday, as is expected, the IceHogs will have 8 defenseman and 9 forwards healthy and eligible to skate against the Wolves.
Roster moves and additions are expected prior to Friday’s game. The IceHogs signed center Brad Mills to a 25-game professional try-out contract on January 15th, but Mills is currently serving a seven-game suspension he picked up for bumping an on-ice official while playing for the ECHL Utah Grizzlies earlier this month. Mills’ ECHL suspensions expires on January 27th, but that falls on AHL All-Star weekend. Mills’ first game with Rockford should be on February 1 when the IceHogs are in San Antonio.
CARTER HUTTON SIDELINED WITH HAND INJURY
During his morning game-day press briefing, Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville confirmed that Rockford IceHogs goaltender Carter Hutton will be sidelined with a minor hand injury.
Quenneville maintained the injury was not “serious.” While Quenneville gave no further details about the injury and nothing has been confirmed, we have heard Hutton’s timeframe for a return is longer than a day-to-day type thing and Monday’s Henrik Karlsson acquisition was a direct result of it.
BEN SMITH HEALING
We can confirm Ben Smith did suffer his left hand injury during a fight with Grand Rapids Griffins defenseman Brennan Evans on January 11th at the BMO Harris Bank Center.
His hand is currently set in a cast. The injury is just about the thumb.
Smith is expected to miss 3-4 weeks. This would pin his return to the first or second week of February. He did not have surgery, instead the injury is just being given time to heal.
On 1/11, Smith was responding to being cross-checked by Evans hard up near Smith’s neck while in front of the Griffins goal crease after a whistle.
The fight wasn’t much and Smith never threw a punch with his left hand, but he did jam his left thumb somehow while wrestling for position during the exchange. Smith immediately knew something was wrong with the hand. He served his major penalty in the locker room with less than five minutes to go in the second period at that time.
Smith returned to the game for the third period and even set up Brandon Saad with a perfect cross ice feed as Saad was streaking down the slot towards the goal at 11:42 of the third, for what wound up being the game-winning goal.