By Chris Block
I finally had a chance to watch Rockford’s 6-4 win at Milwaukee on Wednesday night.
Rockford reclaimed the top spot in the AHL Central Division with the victory over the Milwaukee Admirals. The IceHogs are now in Cleveland to face off with the Lake Erie Monsters this Friday and Saturday nights. For the Monsters, Friday and Saturday will mark their second and third games in as many nights as Lake Erie are hosting a rare three home games in three consecutive nights this week.
Marko Dano made his return to the lineup after missing the last 2 and 2/3 games with a head injury. He cleared his final protocol on Tuesday.
It was a weird game.
Rockford dominated the first period, scoring 3 unanswered first period goals. In the end, it was good they did because Milwaukee handled the IceHogs quite favorably for the next 40 minutes.
Ryan Haggerty, Tanner Kero and Mark McNeill picked up tallies in the 1st. Milwaukee scored first in the second period when Milwaukee utilized the stretch pass as the IceHogs were changing 3 of its 4 penalty killers. Vladislav Kamenev then wheeled in alone and beat Michael Leighton to narrow the score to 3-1.
Rockford allowed power play goals against in each of Milwaukee’s 3 chances on the evening. That makes the IceHogs penalty kill 0 for its last 5 in attempting to kill off opponent’s power plays. The Chicago Wolves were 2-2 in Rockford’s 4-2 win in Rosemont last Saturday.
Later in the middle period, Vinnie Hinostroza, in his first game back with Rockford, scored twice in a 23 second span to further the gap to 5-1 IceHogs. Hinostroza’s first came when he parked himself in front of the Milwaukee goal and redirected a Kero centering pass through backup Marek Mazanec. 23 seconds later, Cameron Schilling fluttered a stretch pass that met Hinostroza at Milwaukee’s blue line and the Bartlett native buried that one with a forehand to backhand finish at 12:22 of the second.
Before those two Hinostroza markers, Rockford had managed just two shots in the initial 12 minutes of the second period. After he made it 5-1, the IceHogs would notch just 5 more shots over the final 27 minutes of the game.
Cody Hodgson scored his 3rd and 4th goals of the season, both with the IceHogs short-handed to get Milwaukee to within two goals again.
Two minutes after Hodgson did, Bryan Bickell scored at 8:04 of the third period on a one-timer from the left circle while Rockford was enjoying a 5-on-3 power play advantage.
Colton Sissons finished the scoring late in the 3rd when Kirill Gotovets accidentally kicked a loose puck to Sissons, who fired it past Leighton to get Milwaukee back within two again where the score would close.
–It was a rough night for Kirill Gotovets, who is one of the unsung players on this year’s IceHogs. Gotovets doesn’t play with much fear. He works hard and moves the puck well. Yet, on this night, he was fighting the puck and caught some unlucky breaks. Gotovets was out for all 3 power play goals against and directly involved in two of them, not to mention the Sissons even strength goal near the end of the night.
–Hinostroza had a lot of jump in this game. I doubt he’ll be recalled to Chicago any time soon, but he certainly made a case for it. Rockford is a much better offensive team, and more dangerous, with him in the lineup the way he’s currently performing.
—Mark McNeill has been wearing an “A” of late.
–With Dano back from injury, and Hinostroza demoted from NHL-Chicago, Dane Walters was a healthy scratch and Daniel Ciampini was optioned back to ECHL-Indianapolis. Nolan Valleau substituted in for Dennis Robertson in the only other change from the previous game at Rosemont on Saturday.
–With Hinostroza’s return, Ted Dent was able to drop Kyle Baun to the third line, as we wrote about on Sunday. Jake Dowell had two new linemates on Wednesday as Garret Ross was dropped to his line since Dano was put next to McNeill. I’m not sure what happened to Rockford after that first period, but these lines give Rockford much better balance and allow them to push a better pace with handling and pursuing pucks. Milwaukee’s still a really good team, though.
–Ted Dent’s lines, pairs and specials on 2/24/16 in Milwaukee
56-Marko Dano / 28-Mark McNeill / 24-Ryan Hartman
44-Bryan Bickell / 10-Tanner Kero / 23-Vince Hinostroza
26-Garret Ross / 11-Jake Dowell / 27-Kyle Baun
17-Mike Liambas / 14-Chris DeSousa / 39-Ryan Haggerty
5-Cameron Schilling / 29-Ville Pokka
3-Rob Scuderi / 25-Jonathan Carlsson
7-Nolan Valleau / 2-Kirill Gotovets
35-Mac Carruth (backup)
C/RW-16-Dane Walters… D-20-Dennis Robertson…
D-15-Kyle Cumiskey (lower body, 2-3 weeks)… LW-22-Pierre-Cedric “PC” Labrie (lower body, day-to-day)… G-30-Mark Visentin (lower body, 2-3 weeks)…
Power play I: Bickell-McNeill-Ross w/ Kero & Pokka
Power play II: Dano-Hinostroza-Hartman w/ Schilling & Carlsson
PK forwards: Dowell-McNeill, DeSousa-Liambas
PK defense: Schilling-Pokka, Scuderi-Gotovets