Category Archives: IceHogs

IceHogs return to postseason after 4 years out; After a strong 2014-15, how will Rockford fare; Calder Cup 1st round preview

By Chris Block

Tonight, Rockford plays its first playoff contest since 2010 when they begin their best-of-5 opening round series with the Texas Stars in suburban Austin.

Rockford has lost the past 10 consecutive playoff games they have played. The American Hockey League record of most consecutive losses in postseason is 12, set by the Buffalo Bisons in the 1950s.  The IceHogs last playoff win came in Game 5 of their second round series with the Chicago Wolves in 2008, the IceHogs first season in the AHL. Rockford was up 3-2 in that series then lost games 6 & 7.  The Wolves would go on to with the Calder Cup that year.

While the IceHogs dominated the season series with Texas, this was about the worst draw Rockford could have asked for. The key to Rockford’s success against Texas during the regular season was catching the Stars at the right times, and a power play that ran at a 37.5% clip against the Stars this season.

Rockford can skate with any team in the West at 5-on-5. Where they have separated themselves for success is in getting elite goaltending from Michael Leighton, Scott Darling and Antti Raanta. Mac Carruth, who was in net for three games this season and went 2-1 with a shutout (at Chicago) is now the backup.

But aside from the goaltending, which, no mistake, is why the IceHogs are in the postseason, Rockford’s special teams were consistently the difference between a win and a loss in 2014-15.

Noting that, no team boasts better special teams than Texas.

Their combined special teams mark is 106.9 (86.9 PP + 20.0 PK). Texas ranks 3rd overall in the AHL, and tops in the Western Conference on the power play. Their penalty kill is 4th in the AHL and 2nd in the West. Read more »

Share

Rockford IceHogs look to make franchise history

IceHogs_LockerRoom_2014_100214

By Chris Block

The IceHogs return home on Wednesday night from last week’s 2-1 road trip when they host the Charlotte Checkers at the BMO Harris Bank Center in downtown Rockford.

Rockford closes out its regular season this week with three home games. They’ll welcome the Chicago Wolves on Friday, and the Toronto Marlies on Saturday night to wrap the season with 3 games in 4 nights.

Ted Dent’s team has solidified a playoff spot and now eyes a chance to win the Midwest division, currently led by the Grand Rapids Griffins, the affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings. The IceHogs failed to qualify for postseason the past four years. They haven’t won a playoff game since Game 5 of the Conference semi-final series with the Chicago Wolves in 2008. Rockford is 0-10 in AHL playoff contests since that Game 5 in 2008. The AHL record for consecutive playoff losses is 12, set by the Buffalo Bisons in the 1950s.

Grand Rapids is one point up on Rockford. They close out the season with a 3-in-3 starting Thurday; three winnable games at Lake Erie and then home for a back-to-back set against Charlotte. Grand Rapids also currently holds the first tie-breaker, regulation wins, 42 to the IceHogs’ 41. So, Rockford will need help from Lake Erie and/or Charlotte in addition to picking up a minimum of 5 of 6 points if they’re to have a shot at jumping Grand Rapids and winning the division. Read more »

Share

Interview with Antti Raanta on his demotion, the trade deadline, his future and playing for a Cup in Rockford

Raanta_IceHogs_2015Mar06_OKCAntti Raanta, March 6, 2015 in Rockford vs Oklahoma City
Photo courtesy of Rockford IceHogs

By Chris Block

“When they said I was going down (to Rockford) – you just have so many questions inside your head. You try to figure it out, like ‘what did I do wrong?’” – Antti Raanta

Antti Raanta couldn’t have done much better for the Blackhawks this season.

In 12 starts and 14 appearances overall, the Blackhawks’ backup goalie went 7-4-1 with a 1.89 goals against average and .936 save percentage. He posted two shutouts, which is the same number of shutouts as Corey Crawford has tallied through 52 starts in 2014-15.

But after parts of two seasons under Joel Quenneville’s watch, the six-foot one inch Raanta fell down the depth chart in some key decision makers minds with the emergence this year of the 6’6” Scott Darling.

Quenneville was one of those minds.

Raanta last appeared for the Hawks in relief duty of a 6-2 drubbing by Boston at the United Center on February 22. Raanta entered more than halfway into the second period when the Hawks were already down 4-1. Read more »

Share

Van Riemsdyk On Long Road Back to the NHL

vanRiemsdyk_courtesy_IceHogs_2015Mar18_ADR_2_458x500Trevor van Riemsdyk, Wednesday March 18th in Rockford
photo courtesy of Rockford IceHogs

By Chris Block

Back-to-back serious injuries have posed a challenge to the bright, young career of Trevor van Riemsdyk.

The 23-year old New Jersey native, affectionately known by Blackhawks fans now as ‘TVR’, had his rookie season derailed after 18 games on November 16 when he blocked a Trevor Daley shot off the side of his left knee in the first period against the Dallas Stars, which was also the night of Brad Richards’ 1,000th game.

“I couldn’t tell at first. I just knew that it hurt,” said van Riemsdyk when asked if he knew the severity of the injury right away. “But I didn’t know how serious it could be. So then I got the x-ray done and that was that.”

Further examinations determined van Riemsdyk had suffered a fractured left patella bone and he underwent surgery four days later. Doctors projected he would need 3-4 months of recovery time. A hundred and seventeen days went by before van Riemsdyk would play in his next game. Read more »

Share

Rockford IceHogs Media Day Stuff; TVR debut now imminent, Broadhurst sets date, Keith Seabrook set to play, Power play numbers

By Chris Block

A few news items here coming out of Tuesday’s Rockford IceHogs weekly media day huddles.

Alex Broadhurst Targeting Return

Right now, Alex Broadhurst is aiming for March 21st or 22nd as his return from the broken left arm he suffered on Black Wednesday evening back in November. Broadhurst suffered the break to the bone just above his left elbow on a hit from Iowa Wild forward Curt Gogol.

Broadhurst, who turned 22 on March 7th, had a forgettable start to this 2014-15 season. He was healthy scratched 5 times in 20 games and when he did dress, Broadhurst skated a lot of fourth line minutes. In 15 games, the center has 0 goals and 2 assists.

While an injury like that is never welcome, there is some good that came out of it.

Broadhurst on Tuesday said that he’s now in the best physical condition of his life as he’s had nothing to do for the past two months but workout and train for his return. The time away could be good for him in another sense in that his auspicious beginning to the season can be long forgotten now. Read more »

Share

Blackhawks trade Brennan to Toronto for Spencer Abbott; Analysis, what it means and more on trade rumor out of Sweden

Brennan_2015Jan16_IceHogs_333x500T.J. Brennan, Rockford’s leading scorer, dealt to Toronto
Jan 16, 2015 photo courtesy of Rockford IceHogs

By Chris Block

Thursday afternoon, the Chicago Blackhawks traded away defenseman, and Rockford IceHogs’ current leading scorer, T.J. Brennan to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for minor league right winger, Spencer Abbott.

Abbott, 26, is 5’9” right-shooting winger in his third pro season now. He spent four years at the University of Maine (2008-2012) where he posted 54 goals and 146 points in 152 career NCAA games with the Black Bears.

Brennan was a member of Toronto’s organization last season. He and Abbott ranked 1-2 in Toronto Marlies scoring during the 2013-14 regular season.

Last year with Toronto, Abbott set career marks in goals (17), assists (52) and points (69) with the Marlies, the Maple Leafs in-town American Hockey League affiliate. This season, Abbott has 7 goals and 17 assists in 46 games. His shooting percentage has dropped to 7.6% from 12.0% last regular season.

There are two keys to this move from a Blackhawks and Rockford IceHogs’ dual perspective. Read more »

Share

Teravainen Staying Up, Focused After Recent Demotion to Rockford

Teravainen_2015_Feb14_IceHogs_Rockford_vs_OKC_500x333Teuvo Teravainen skating back in Rockford, Feb 14, 2015 vs Oklahoma City
Photo courtesy of Rockford IceHogs

By Chris Block

The afternoon after an overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks, 20-year old Teuvo Teravainen got the call all rookie players dread.

“After practice Quenneville called me and said what was happening,” Teravainen recounted.

The news Joel Quenneville relayed was that Teravainen was being sent back to the minors. After 15 games, 2 goals and 4 total points, Quenneville informed Teravainen that he would be trading in his number 86 Blackhawks sweater for a Rockford IceHogs, number 21, at least for the time being.

“He told me to just get some ice time (in Rockford). Play my game. Try to be dominant on the ice. Play good. That’s all. Have some fun.”

It was a disappointing development for the confident Finnish center, but Teravainen isn’t allowing the demotion to get him down.

“Of course my goal is to be up [in Chicago], but right now I’m [in Rockford] and I’m trying to help this team out.” Read more »

Share

IceHogs’ shooters get one, enough; Leighton shuts out Iowa 1-0, sets IceHogs record

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. Read more »

Share

Rockford’s goal troubles: Numbers and numbers; Mark McNeill says no more raking leaves

Hartman_Ryan_2014Dec30_IceHogsRyan Hartman – Photo credit: Rockford IceHogs Hockey


By Chris Block

Thanks to a terrific start to the season, the Rockford IceHogs still sit atop the MidWest Division a little past the halfway point of the AHL season.

But the past six weeks have been a struggle for the IceHogs. The team’s offense some nights is almost non-existent and the gap between Rockford and nearest contenders, Milwaukee and Chicago has narrowed.

When the IceHogs win they’re averaging 3.7 goals for versus 1.7 against.

In Rockford’s 19 losses (23-13-4-2), they’ve scored just 1.4 goals per game, while the goaltenders allowed 2.9 against.

“We got four goals [Friday, a 4-0 home ice win over Iowa], which was nice,” said IceHogs’ coach, Ted Dent.

“We haven’t had four goals in a long time. So, we’ll just keep chipping away at it.”

Since Thanksgiving, Rockford has put up 4 goals or more just 4 times. That represents a total of 22 games in which the IceHogs have averaged 2.09 goals for per game. Rockford’s record since Thanksgiving is 8-9-4-1. Two of those wins came via the shootout. Read more »

Share

Stephen Johns returns only to be sidelined again; Dent says 2-3 weeks, Johns talks prior injury

Johns_Stephen_2015Jan19_IceHogsPicStephen Johns (#4) battles Jeremy Welsh in front of Scott Darling Monday Jan 19
Photo credit: Rockford IceHogs

 

By Chris Block

Rockford had only begun to realize how much they missed the steady and physical play of Stephen Johns when injury struck the rookie defenseman again on Monday.

Now the IceHogs will again be without their big rookie blue liner for a stretch.

Johns will miss the next 2 to 3 weeks, according to the team.

“When you can’t do something you love and you enjoy every day, it hurts and it’s frustrating.”

Those were Stephen Johns’ words this past Saturday night, having just completed his second game back from a concussion that kept him out of action for seven weeks.

Now, a left knee injury, suffered Monday afternoon in a game against the Chicago Wolves, will force Johns to miss more time. Read more »

Share