Jan 232015
Leighton_2015Jan13_Charlotte_320x309_IceHogsMichael Leighton – Photo credit: Rockford IceHogs Hockey

By Chris Block

Rockford IceHogs accomplished something Thursday night they had not before this season – score 1 goal and win.

Matt Carey blasted a power play goal by Iowa Wild goalie John Curry with 6:44 remaining in the third period to give the IceHogs a 1-0 lead, a score that stood as the final.

The IceHogs have scored 1 goal or less in 12 of their 43 games. That’s 27.9 percent of the season to date.

Previously Rockford had found ways to earn points without scoring a goal. They’ve lost 1-0 in overtime, another time in a shootout. But until Thursday they had not figured out how to win a game by a 1-0 score.

Michael Leighton stopped 23 shots in picking up his 11th win and 4th shutout this season and 40th of his career.

Rockford fired 42 shots at John Curry. It’s the eleventh time this season that the IceHogs have eclipsed the 40 shot mark. They have a 7-2-1-1 record in those games and they’re shooting 6.6% (33-500) in games they’ve tallied 40 or more shots on goal.

Leighton set an IceHogs single-season AHL record with his 4th shutout. The 1-0 win also lifted Rockford to a new IceHogs single-season (AHL) team record for shutouts, at 6.

Previously the team record was shared by the 2010-11 IceHogs (Alec Richards, Hannu Toivonen) and the inaugural AHL 2007-08 squad (Corey Crawford, Wade Flaherty).

Leighton surpasses Carter Hutton (’11-12), Hannu Toivonen (’10-11) and Corey Crawford (’07-08) for the IceHogs individual single-season shutout marker. Each had three. The IceHogs overall franchise record for shutouts in a single season was set by Michael Robinson in 2004-05 when he posted 7 in the United Hockey League (UHL). The single-season franchise team record, also set that ’04-05 season, is 8.

Iowa and Rockford traded power plays in the early going with Cody Bass going off for tripping and Iowa’s Benjamin Dieude-Fauvel sent to the box for cross-checking Carey off a puck a few minutes later. Bass served time in the sin bin later in the first, this time for high-sticking. In the game the IceHogs penalty killers killed off five Iowa power plays. Rockford ranks 3rd in the AHL after Thursday’s action, two tenths of a percentage point behind Utica and Texas for the top spot in the league on the penalty kill.

On the second Iowa power play, Matt Dumba rang a shot off the cross bar behind Leighton. Then, Pierre-Cedric Labrie wound up with a short-handed breakaway for the second consecutive game. On Monday, Labrie scored with a backhand on the Wolves’ Jordan Binnington. This time, Klas Dahlbeck sprung Labrie down the middle with a stretch pass but Labrie went with a deke to the forehand, trying to go five-hole on Curry and was stopped.

This first period was all Rockford, outshooting Iowa 16-3.

Midway into the second Jonathan Blum caught Dennis Rasmussen sleeping on a delayed hooking call on Kyle Cumiskey. Blum slipped down behind Rasmussen, who was puck watching, and got a feed from Marc Hagel but Leighton got to the post in time to stop Blum. He also prevented a Zack Mitchell rebound try to keep the game scoreless there. The shots at this point were 27-9 in favor of Rockford.

Danault missed a chance at a wide open net with 2:05 to go in the second. McNeill sped down the right wing and fired a shot that Curry kicked back out into the left circle where Danault would find it. Danault wound up and clanked it off the cross bar as Curry tried to dive back into the crease.

Shots after forty minutes were 29-13 edge to the visitors. The IceHogs had a much easier time carrying through the neutral zone than Iowa skaters did. The best Wild moments were in transition and when Rockford got sloppy with the puck.

Leighton made his best stop at the 5 minute mark of the third after Viktor Svedberg turned a puck over in his own end with two Wild players lurking behind him. Adam Clendening had gotten too far up in the zone so Michael Keranen and Jordan Schroeder had a 2-on-0 against Leighton. The Wild forwards traded the puck before Schroeder snapped a shot trying to beat Leighton’s left glove and leg pad to the near post. Leighton somehow had it covered though and kept the puck from crossing over the line as it rested underneath him as Svedberg and Clendening both slid and crashed into him. The play was reviewed and the call of no-goal on the ice obviously stood.

Mark McNeill had a great look with 9 minutes to go when he and Danault started a rush out of their end. Garret Ross gained the Iowa blue line and left the puck for McNeill, who wheeled down the middle and cut to the backhand but was turned aside by Curry. It looked like had McNeill stayed on his forehand he would’ve had a better chance.

With 7:01 to go, Iowa defenseman Danny Syvret hoisted a puck from deep in the Wild end and it wound up in the crowd, giving the IceHogs a crucial late power play chance in a scoreless affair.

McNeill took the ensuing draw on his strong side and muscled it into the corner where Ross retrieved it. Carey and Brennan traded passes before Carey cut through the right circle on his forehand toward the slot and ripped a shot by Curry at 13:16 to gain the game’s only goal. The goal was Carey’s 7th. It was assisted by Brennan and Ross.

Ross has a goal and three assists in his last five games. The goal snapped a 7-game drought for Carey.

With 27.2 seconds to go, Dahlbeck got nabbed for tripping Jordan Schroeder after Dahlbeck coughed the puck up just inside the ‘Hogs blue line. It looked like a weak call. Dahlbeck put his stick on Schroeder’s left thigh pad as he was handling the puck and holding the zone and Schroeder went down.

Iowa coach John Torchetti took his timeout here to setup a play off the faceoff to Leighton’s immediate left. Danault lost that draw then tripped Matt Dumba down and play was whistled with 8.9 seconds left in regulation.

Facing a 5-on-3 in his own end with the lead on the line, Ted Dent sent Cody Bass out to take the draw with Ville Pokka and Kyle Cumiskey. Bass got the draw back to the wall were Pokka retrieved it and time clicked off the clock without Iowa getting a shot on Leighton.

Rockford outshot Iowa 13-10 in the third and 42-23 in the game.

McNeill and Ross each had 5 shots. Bass, Regin and Carey all had 4.

Game Notes

–Rockford play-by-play voice Mike Peck missed the game. He had shoulder surgery on Wednesday. So that’s why the Rockford and AHL Live broadcast patched in on those feeds. Peck is expected to return to the booth on Saturday.

Kyle Cumiskey (upper) played his first game since January 9 vs Milwaukee. Cumiskey missed four games. He took Stephen Johns (left knee) place in the lineup alongside Klas Dahlbeck.

–Since the Christmas break, Michael Leighton has started 7 games and also appeared in relief in another for Scott Darling.

In those 8 games, Leighton has allowed just 9 goals (1.16 GAA), but the IceHogs have given him just 11 goals of support. Somehow he’s 4-1-1-1 since the Xmas break. Two of those wins came via the shootout. Leighton’s save percentage is 96.4% (242-251) in his past 8 showings.

–This season, Leighton is getting an average 2.1 goal support when he’s been in net. Scott Darling is getting almost a full goal more per game, 3.06.

Record Starts G.A.A. Save % Avg GF
Michael Leighton 11-7-2-2 23 2.02 0.931 2.10
Scott Darling 10-6-2-0 17 2.25 0.927 3.06
Mac Carruth 2-0-0-0 2 1.00 0.960 4.00
Antti Raanta 1-0-0-0 1 2.00 0.943 3.00

 –In the last 2 games at Iowa, the IceHogs have outshot the Wild 101-48 and have just 2 goals. Rockford lost 5-1 at Iowa back on December 16, a game in which they pelted the Wild 59-25 in shots.

–‘Hogs posted 15 goals vs Iowa in the teams’ initial three meetings this season. Since 5 goals is way above Rockford’s season average for goals (2.63), the game has a way of correcting itself. Rockford has scored 7 goals in the more recent 4 games with Iowa. So, now the series average vs. Iowa now sits at 3.14 goals for per contest.

–Rockford is 5-2-0-0 versus Iowa this season. The two teams have one game remaining, April 9th in Iowa. Versus Iowa, the Rockford power play is 5-23 (21.7%) and the PK has gone 93.1% (27-39).

–Rockford has one game left to play vs Iowa, April 9th in Des Moines.

–Thought McNeill, Mashinter and Regin all had a solid night. Iowa is really no match for Rockford’s speed.

–Minnesota sent d-man Justin Falk back to Iowa earlier in the day but he did not play. Neither did Ruslan Fedotenko, who inked a PTO with Iowa on Tuesday.

–Ryan Hartman served his one-game suspension levied for hi-sticking Colin Fraser in Monday’s 4-1 loss to the Wolves.

Ted Dent’s lines, pairs, scratches & specials Thursday in Des Moines


26-Garret Ross / 18-Phillip Danault / 28-Mark McNeill

53-Brandon Mashinter / 11-Peter Regin / 22-Pierre-Cedric Labrie

27-Matt Carey / 12-Dennis Rasmussen / 16-Cody Bass

38-Ryan Schnell / 14-Drew LeBlanc / 20-Jamie Wise


7-T.J. Brennan / 29-Ville Pokka

10-Klas Dahlbeck / 15-Kyle Cumiskey

8-Viktor Svedberg / 2-Adam Clendening


49-Michael Leighton

33-Scott Darling (backup)

Scratches: D-3-Zach Miskovic
Suspended: RW-24-Ryan Hartman (gm 1 of 1)
Injuries: D-4-Stephen Johns (left knee, 1/19/15)… C-25-Alex Broadhurst (11/26/14, broken left arm)….

Line notes:

–Neither Schnell, nor Wise played a whole lot. LeBlanc got moved around some and skated about a regular shift.

Special Teams

Power play I: Ross-Rasmussen-McNeill w/Brennan & Carey
Power play II: Regin-Danault-Mashinter w/Clendening & Pokka

PK forwards: Danault-McNeill, Regin-Ross, Rasmussen-Labrie
PK defense: (various tandems) Dahlbeck-Cumiskey, Svedberg-Pokka, Clendening


Iowa Wild lineup 1/22/15 vs Rockford

Forwards [L-C-R]

18-Zack Mitchell / 4-Tyler Graovac / 29-Mark Hagel

19-Stephane Veilleux / 27-Brett Sutter / 17-Brett Bulmer

3-Jason Gregoire / 10-Jordan Schroeder / 36-Michael Keranen

 39-Kurtis Gabriel  /  21-Brady Brassart  /  22-Joel Rechlicz


25-Danny Syvret / 55-Matt Dumba

20-Benjamin Dieude-Fauvel / 7-Jonathon Blum

2-Guillaume Gelinas / 41-Stu Bickel


33-John Curry

31-Johan Gustafsson (backup)

Power Play I: Keranen-Graovac-Schroeder w/Blum & Dumba
Power Play II: Hagel-Mitchell-Gregoire w/Dieude-Fauvel & Gelinas

PK forwards: Sutter-Veilleux, Mitchell-Brassart
PK defense: Syvret-Dumba, Bickel-Blum



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  6 Responses to “IceHogs’ shooters get one, enough; Leighton shuts out Iowa 1-0, sets IceHogs record”

  1. Leighton has been surprisingly solid as of late. And its the right move as Darling was progressively getting worse positionally.

    You mentioned the back hand by McNeill int he 3rd period, and I agree 100%. Thats a shot you must take. Maybe overthinking was setting in being scoreless.

    P.C. Labrie went down in the 2nd period but no trainer came to his aid when he finally made it to the bench. He did return, but what is his status?

    • Think Labrie was fine. Couldn’t really tell what happened to him on that play, but didn’t hear anything after about him being injured.

      I wouldn’t say I’m surprised Leighton’s been this good. He’s had a lot of success at the AHL level and isn’t what you would consider old just yet. He turns 34 in May. Its a heck of a competition right now for starts.

  2. Johns has a knee injury?

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