Feb 202011
 

Kyle Beach takes shot Jan 2nd @ OKC

 
Recently I sat down with highly touted, and debated, Hawks prospect Kyle Beach to discuss his progress during his 1st pro season, mending fences with teammate Mathis Olimb and how he responds to his critics (which admittedly, we’ve been one).  The following are excerpts from that interview.

To date, Beach has posted 13 goals and 29 points in 52 games.  Beach does own an IceHogs’ worst minus-17 plus/minus rating. He’s been on the ice for a staggering 30 of 68 even strength goals scored against (44%) on home ice and 40 of 109 (37%) even strength goals scored against Rockford overall.  As mentioned below, he’s been benched on occasion as well as designated a healthy scratch by head coach Bill Peters twice, and as recently as eleven days ago.  The IceHogs have lost 12 of their last 14 games. Beach has 4 goals, 4 assists (-10) in that stretch. When we spoke with him, he was enjoying a season-best stretch of 4 goals, 5 assists over 8 games.

Chris Block:  Halfway through your first pro year, what’s different for you now as opposed to earlier in the season?

Kyle Beach:  I think its just getting used to the play. Getting used to the bigger bodies.  Getting used to having to use your strength; use your size and learn how to protect the puck.  I mean, coming into this level from junior, I mean, I was one of the older guys last year.  I was always one of the bigger guys and now I’m average.  And you gotta learn the little tricks of the trade.  And now pucks are starting to my way, bounces are starting to go my way.  You know, fortunately I’ve been able to go on a little bit of a run here. Continue reading »

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Jan 212011
 

** Another huge back-to-back is upon the Rockford IceHogs this weekend as they attempt to climb back into a tough AHL West division playoff race.

40 games into the season, Rockford (19-16-1-4) is three games above .500, yet nine points out of the 4th and final playoff spot in their division.  The IceHogs find hope though in that they own ‘games in hand’ on every team in their division and the majority of their second half will be spent facing those teams above them in the division.

So, while the season is far from over, every point is a big one.

Tonight the current 3rd seed in the West Division, Oklahoma City visits Rockford.  These two teams have traded wild 6-5 decisions of late.  The Hogs dropped a New Years Day game at Oklahoma City 2-1 on a night both IceHogs’ special teams units let them down.

Rockford has five games in hand on OKC, and trail them by nine points as well.  A win tonight would put Rockford in line to reach the Barons once they catch OKC in the games played column.

Tomorrow night the San Antonio Rampage return for a rematch of this past Monday’ MetroCentre matinee, which the IceHogs took 2-1.  All scoring in that one came in the third period.  Goals on the Rockford side came first from Evan Brophey, then Hugh Jessiman.

San Antonio is 8 points up on Rockford and currently in 6th place.  They also have played four more contests than the IceHogs to this point.

As we mentioned earlier this week, odds are the 5th place team in the West will wind up with more points than the 4-seed in the North division, thus sliding over and taking that spot.  But competition for that spot will be fierce as teams currently 3rd through 7th are separated by just three points.

Games in hand don’t mean a thing if you don’t turn those into points.  A mediocre start, coupled with being in the toughest division in the AHL leave Rockford with little room for error.

The IceHogs are 7-3-0-0 over the last ten games, their best stretch of the season.  Kyle Beach, Evan Brophey and Hannu Toivonen have led the way, playing the best each of those three have to this point. Continue reading »

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Jan 182011
 

Goals by veterans Evan Brophey and Hugh Jessiman were just enough Monday afternoon for the Rockford IceHogs to take a 2-1 victory over the visiting San Antonio Rampage.

Despite a dramatic discrepancy in shots heading into the third period, 24-12 in favor of the IceHogs, the game remained scoreless until Evan Brophey beat San Antonio netminder Matt Climie for his 6th goal of the season.  The goal, 13 seconds into the period, ended Brophey’s 5-game goal drought.

Injury-plagued winger Hugh Jessiman struck next , giving Rockford a 2-0 lead when his one-timer from the left-side half wall found the back of the net.  Jessiman, who missed a month (Dec 8-Jan 2) with a lower-body injury, had not scored since November 12th.  This marked his 3rd goal of the season and first in 10 games.

Rockford has managed to put a string of wins together and put themselves 3 games above the .500 mark as they’ve hit the halfway point of the 80-game AHL season.  Before Saturday night’s win in Chicago, the IceHogs hadn’t been more than a game above .500 all season.  Monday’s win gives the IceHogs a three-game win streak, their first of such length and longest so far this season.

For the IceHogs, it has been inconsistency and lackluster starts which have plagued them most. Continue reading »

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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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