Jan 152011
 

Tonight the Rockford IceHogs will bus to Rosemont for their 5th of 10 matchups this season with the Chicago Wolves.

When you consider tonight Rockford will try for the 8th time this season to get 2 games above the .500 mark, these two points are essential.  It’ll also be their 4th try in the last fourteen days.

If the IceHogs want to be a playoff team they need to put some wins together.  And they must beat the teams above them in the standings.  They can achieve both tonight when they meet their Interstate-90 rivals.

Here’s some more detail on the Rockford IceHogs’ season and current place in the AHL West Division standings. Continue reading »

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Jan 152011
 

The Rockford IceHogs continue to do the cha-cha with the .500 mark in their pursuit of an AHL postseason berth.

Rockford finds themselves a game above the .500 mark for the 4th time in the last 16 days after a 3-1 victory over the visiting Texas Stars on Friday night.

Goals from Kyle Beach, Jeremy Morin and a late empty-netter by Ryan Potulny were enough to lead the IceHogs to victory against the Dallas Stars minor league affiliate.

38 games into the season (AHL season runs 80 games), Rockford is 17-16-1-4 and entrenched in last place (8th) in the AHL’s West Division.

Not all is lost, however.  The IceHogs own games in hand on every team in their division and being that the West division will likely send five teams to the playoffs, Rockford need only climb over three teams to reach that coveted fifth spot.

Friday’s game against the Stars was absolutely essential for the IceHogs.  Texas came into the game as the fourth-place team in the West and held an 11-point advantage on Rockford in the standings.  But with only two games in hand on Texas, Rockford could basically cross Texas off the list of teams they could realistically leap-frog had they not won Friday’s contest in regulation. Continue reading »

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Jan 032011
 

 Here’s the video we talked about earlier in this morning’s update.  Video footage of last Thursday’s fight between Rockford’s Brandon Bollig and Houston Aeros’ winger Matt Kassian.

Courtesy of JimKorn20 ‘s YouTube channel

Get another look in a different angle shot after the jump Continue reading »

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Dec 302010
 

The last-place Rockford IceHogs take the ice tonight looking for an absolutely essential two points versus division rival Houston Aeros.

The last place IceHogs will be in Oklahoma City, the team directly above them in the standings, this weekend for a two game set.  Rockford currently trails the Oklahoma City Barons by six points, and have three games in hand on them as well.

These next three games very well may determine the IceHogs playoff hopes.  Three wins would be ideal.  Any less than five points will be a setback.

Up front, the IceHogs will start with these lines:

Mathis Olimb – Ryan Potulny – Jeff Taffe

Kyle Beach – Brandon Pirri – Brandon Bollig

Rob Klinkhammer – Evan Brophey – Ben Smith

Kyle Hagel – Pete Leblanc – Igor Makarov

Coach Bill Peters will role four lines for the most part.  Leblanc skates on the first power play unit, which has featured Mathis Olimb on the left point.

Tonight’s defensive pairings should remain as they have since the Christmas break.  Wade Brookbank took the warmup, which is unusual.  Garnet Exelby has been hampered by what appears to be a lower-body injury of late.  That could be why.

Ryan Stanton – Brian Connelly

Garnet Exelby – Shawn Lalonde

Ivan Vishnevskiy – Simon Danis-Pepin

Scratches: Chris DiDomenico (healthy), Wade Brookbank (healthy), Hugh Jessiman (foot), Nick Leddy (loaned to Team USA-WJC), Jeremy Morin (loaned to Team USA-WJC)

Hannu Toivonen, who picked up the victory in Milwaukee on Tuesday night, will get the start.  Alec Richards is backing up.

One referee system tonight.  Marcus Vinnerborg, with Mike Hamilton and Aaron Mills calling the lines.

– IceHogs goal scoring droughts: Ryan Stanton (30), Garnet Exelby (29), Wade Brookbank (18), Simon Danis-Pepin (18), Chris DiDomenico (18), Nick Leddy (12), Brian Connelly (9), Rob Klinkhammer (9), Ivan Vishnevskiy (8), Brandon Pirri (8), Kyle Hagel (7), Hugh Jessiman (7), Ryan Potulny (7), Kyle Beach (6),  Igor Makarov (5), Brandon Bollig (3), Jeff Taffe (3), Pete Leblanc (2), Shawn Lalonde (1), Evan Brophey (0), Jeremy Morin (0), Mathis Olimb (0), Ben Smith (0),

DiDomenico and Stanton have each yet to score a professional goal.  Exelby’s drought is actually longer but dates back to 2003, when he last played in the AHL prior to this season.

ChrisBlock@TheThirdManIn.com

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Dec 152010
 

Brandon Pirri was released from Team Canada’s World Junior Championships selection camp this morning.  He had survived the initial round of cuts on Tuesday, but not today’s final cuts.

Pirri was one of 39 players invited to the camp.  The Blackhawks 2nd pick in the 2009 Entry Draft (2nd round #59th overall) was invited to this week’s selection camp after not being one of the 48 players who attended last summer’s Team Canada WJC development camp.  Pirri was also one of only two players in the Under-20 camp who are currently playing professional hockey.  The other being Brayden Schenn.

Pirri took this morning’s news very hard.  Pirri, and the rest of this morning’s cuts received the news individually just after six o’clock at their hotel in Toronto.  Pirri will now return to the Rockford IceHogs.

Dylan Olsen (1st round – 2009, #28th overall), defenseman with the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs (WCHA), will be the lone Blackhawks’ representative on Team Canada.  Olsen is one of seven defenseman on the Canadian roster.  Olsen is a Calgary native who was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. Continue reading »

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Nov 282010
 

Bill Peters’ search for answers has so far turned up dry.

After watching his team come out flat inexplicably for fifth time in this season’s first nine home games, the Rockford head coach retreated to his bench on Saturday night exasperated for the third period.

By my count, Peters used at least twelve different line combinations over the final twenty minutes.  It was orchestrated chaos and Peters’ team responded with its best period of the night, but that wasn’t even enough to get on the scoreboard.

Rockford outshot Peoria 12-6 in the third and 31-21 in the game but Peoria won the only count that matters, defeating IceHogs by a score of 5-0 at the MetroCentre.

In the win, Peoria rookie Jake Allen set a Rivermen AHL (2005-current) franchise record for shutouts in a single season by white-washing the Rockford shooters 31 times, to post his 4th shutout in just 8 starts.  The previous Peoria shutout record (3) was set by Manny Legace during the 2008-09 season.

Saturday’s was a team shutout.  Allen was very good and made some great stops locating pucks through screens and one-on-one challenges.  But his defense also cleared a lot of rebounds and beat the IceHogs to most of the loose pucks in the Peoria zone.

The latter point was the story of the night.  Rockford could not match Peoria’s intensity from the initial puck drop through to the final horn.  A few players tried and succeeded in spurts.  Garnet Exelby showed some snarl late in the first, but the score was already 3-0 by then.  Kyle Beach had his best, most physical shift in weeks with five minutes to go in the middle period.  Jeremy Morin stood up to Peoria defenders on occasion one night after getting into a spirited fight with Red Wings’ defensive prospect Brendan Smith. Continue reading »

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Nov 232010
 

TTMI~Radio returns tonight at 8pm (central).  We’ll try to make sense of these Blackhawks, and the Rockford IceHogs inconsistencies, part one of the ‘Circus Trip’ and look ahead to this week’s games with the three California teams.  We may have a special guest but it isn’t confirmed.

— Dustin Byfuglien is acquitting himself quite well so far in Atlanta.

Byfuglien ranks 3rd among NHL defenseman in scoring with 19 points (7 goals, 12 assists) in 21 games.  Nicklas Lidstrom and John-Michael Liles are tied for first, each with 20 points.  Byfuglien (E), Ron Hainsey (E) and Brent Sopel (+3) are the only three Thrasher defenseman not in the negative in the plus/minus category.  Byfuglien is currently paired with Tobias Enstrom.  Byfuglien is tied with Steven Stamkos and Rick Nash for most game-winning goals (4).  And he’s tied with Ilya Kovalchuk at the top of the board in overtime goals with two.

For comparison’s sake:

Dustin Byfuglien: 21gp, 7g, 12a, 19pts, E +/-, $3,000,000
Dave Bolland:  17gp, 1g, 3a,  4pts, +2 +/-, $3,375,000

Rockford IceHogs notes:

— Following the impressive 1-0, Hannu Toivonen-led victory on Thursday in Winnipeg, the IceHogs dropped Friday’s rematch with Manitoba 3-1 before 14,134 fans at MTS Centre.  After flying back to Chicago on Saturday and busing back to Rockford for the night, the IceHogs traveled to Peoria on Sunday where they battled hard but lost a 3-2 shootout decision to the Rivermen.  I did a combined recap of these two games Sunday night, which I’ll post on the site once I figure out how to undo the laptop. Continue reading »

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Nov 182010
 

Last time the IceHogs saw the Manitoba Moose on November 6th in Rockford, Hannu Toivonen was in charge of holding a 1-0 lead in the waning moments. 

On that night, Toivonen was victimized for three goals in exactly one minute and twenty-seven seconds.  The Moose broke that shutout on an innocent yet seeing-eye Cody Hodgson wrister with just under five minutes left to play.  The rally continued with back-to-back Jeff Tambellini markers, one through the wickets and another over Toivonen’s glove, posted 32 seconds apart.  Toivonen was the ‘goat’ in an otherwise solid IceHogs’ effort. 

Toivonen did not see the Rockford net again until Thursday’s rematch in Winnipeg. 

Thursday night, with Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman in attendance, several of the Hawks top prospects put on solid performances.  Brandon Pirri, Igor Makarov, Kyle Beach, Nick Leddy and Jeremy Morin all made contributions that didn’t necessarily make the scoresheet.  Continue reading »

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Nov 092010
 

First off, I’d like to thank Buddy Oakes of Preds On The Glass for having me on his radio show last night.  We talked for about an hour and a half about the Blackhawks, Predators, head shots and what can be done to prevent such hits and some of the injuries that result from those.  If you’re a Twitter-er and ever need a Predators fix, you should follow Buddy.  His other guest last night was Mark from another Predators site, TheViewFrom111.  I jumped on about ten minutes in.  A direct link to listen to last night’s show is here

And after you listen to that, and if you haven’t had your fill of my flu-ridden twang, TheThirdManIn~Radio returns tonight, Live at 8pm central at BlogTalkRadio.com/TheThirdManIn.   No guest tonight.  We’ll have plenty of news, notes and perspective from the two Rockford IceHogs games of the past weekend; Which Rockford prospects are close to helping, who isn’t and who doesn’t belong in the AHL.  I had a chance to take in both games; losses, on Saturday and Sunday.  We’ll get to many more of your emails.  If you have a question or topic you’d like to hear addressed on the show, send me an email at radio@TheThirdManIn.com or ChrisBlock@TheThirdManIn.com with “radio show” included in the subject and we’ll get to it on the show….  I actually have an insightful and useful fantasy hockey segment tonight.  Unlike the one I spewed from the crack of my backside last Tuesday.  Professional operation we have here.  Of course we’ll discuss what’s wrong with the Hawks.  What needs to change and small alterations to be made to turn things around?  We’re also shooting straight on what Jack Skille can do if he wants to become an effective, permanent NHLer.

— My intention was to do another full IceHogs postgame report Sunday night after their game with Peoria, however, with travel, work and being ridden with sick and overdoses of over-the-counter anti-flu medicines, Sunday’s game recap dropped off my radar.  If you missed my detailed report of Saturday’s demoralizing 3-1 loss to Manitoba, click here.

Instead, I’ll share the bullet points from Sunday’s 5-1 loss at Carver Arena in Peoria. Continue reading »

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Nov 072010
 

Rockford’s Achilles heel, coupled with an anemic power play teamed up Saturday night as the IceHogs’ ultimate demise in a 3-1 loss to the traveling Manitoba Moose.

On a night when Rockford’s power play couldn’t muster more than one goal in eight tries, you could sense trouble brewing.

After forty-five minutes of scoreless hockey, Ben Smith finally struck the back of Manitoba’s net at 5:02 of the third period when Smith, parked on top of Manitoba netminder Eddie Lack’s crease, found an Igor Makarov assisted rebound to give Rockford a 1-0 lead.  Smith’s tally came on Rockford’s seventh power play chance.

The MetroCentre crowd of 5,593 then sat stunned as Manitoba score three unanswered goals in 1 minute and 27 seconds.

Cody Hodgson kicked off the comeback when he drove wide-right on defenseman Ivan Vishnevskiy and roofed a snap shot over Hannu Toivonen‘s glove on the short side with 4:40 left in regulation.  A weak goal allowed by Toivonen tied the game and took the air out of everyone in the building not wearing Moose sweaters.  Hodgson’s 6th marker extended the former top NHL prospect’s scoring streak to 4 games (4g, 2a).

55 seconds after Hodgson evened the score, Jeff Tambellini (re-assigned here by the Canucks on Tuesday) found Toivonen’s five hole and increased the lead to 2-1.  It was another goal Toivonen probably would like to have back.  The defense pairing of Vishnevskiy and Shawn Lalonde were victimized on both goals.

Just 32 seconds later, Toivonen’s glove was again too slow on a Tambellini riser, increasing the lead to the eventual final 3-1 score.  Continue reading »

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