Mar 112013
 
JoakimNordstrom_AIK_JesperZerman_seJoakim Nordstrom, photo credit: jesperzerman.se

By Chris Block

With the European leagues, U.S. collegiate hockey and Canadian junior hockey seasons winding down and beginning each of its playoffs, several Chicago Blackhawks prospects will soon arrive in Rockford, Illinois to cap off their seasons with a trial showcase at the American Hockey League level.

As we noted Sunday on Twitter, the first of those prospects will arrive in Rockford later this week.

Joakim Nordstrom, who the Blackhawks selected with the final pick (90th overall) in the 3rd round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, is expected to join the Rockford IceHogs by the end of the week. Continue reading »

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Mar 072013
 
Smith_Ben_IceHogsphoto courtesy of the Rockford IceHogs

The following is the piece published in Tuesday night’s issue of The Committed Indian, the official~unofficial Chicago Blackhawks home game night program, which you can buy individual copies or subscribe to at this link.

By Chris Block

You have to focus on what’s right in front of you and I think at that moment …  I was focused on winning two points against Grand Rapids and fortunately that night we did.Ben Smith

With the NHL/NHLPA collective bargaining dispute having been settled and NHL training camps set to commence in less than three days, Blackhawks prospect Ben Smith took to the BMO Harris Bank Center ice in Rockford on January 11th to face off with the IceHogs division-rival, and Detroit Red Wings farm team, the Grand Rapids Griffins.

At this time Smith was the IceHogs’ leader in goals scored, game-winning goals, a member of both the first-team power play and penalty killing units and among the top three forwards in ice time on a nightly basis.

And on a team up to that point which couldn’t help itself but take careless or undisciplined minor penalty after minor penalty, Smith had just 4 penalty minutes on the season and had not stepped foot in the penalty box since mid October.  That’s quite the accomplishment for the gritty and tenacious two-way forward Ben Smith is. Continue reading »

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Jan 282013
 
Clendening_2012Dec29_TaylorBeck_KrisGray_IceHogsphoto credit: Kris Gray, Rockford IceHogs
Adam Clendening battles for the puck with Milwaukee’s Taylor Beck (41)

 

By Chris Block

The American Hockey League All-Star Game was held in Providence, Rhode Island on Monday night.

Chicago Blackhawks prospect Adam Clendening, along with Rockford IceHogs team captain Martin St. Pierre were both selected by the league to represent the team from just up the road off Interstate 90.

Both St. Pierre and Clendening were held off the scoresheet in the game.  The Western Conference won with some late heroics by Toronto Marlies captain Ryan Hamilton, who completed a hat-trick with 11.2 seconds to go in regulation to give the West a 7-6 victory over the Eastern Conference all-stars.

Clendening, who turned 20 in October, and leads all IceHogs players with 21 assists this season, said he was initially surprised when news of his AHL All-Star nomination came.

“I was actually eating lunch [on January 17th] with a bunch of the guys,” Clendening recounted.   Continue reading »

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Jan 182013
 

By Chris Block

Rockford IceHogs (19-17-1-1) are hosting the Peoria Rivermen (17-17-2-2) tonight at the BMO Harris Bank Center.

It’ll be the fourth of twelve meetings between the two clubs this season.  The Rivermen have been victorious twice.  Rockford defeated Peoria 5-4 in a seesaw affair when the teams last met on November 21st in Rockford.  The IceHogs got off to a quick start when Adam Clendening scored his 3rd goal on the campaign 56 seconds in.  Rockford went up 2-0 eleven minutes later when Brandon Saad scored an unassisted short-handed goal.  Peoria though responded by notching three unanswered even-strength tallies in just under six minutes and led 3-2 heading into the first intermission.  Between periods Ted Dent changed some lines around and altered his top two defense pairings, pairing Nick Leddy with Clendening and Ryan Stanton with Klas Dahlbeck.  The rest of the game was controlled by Rockford.  Martin St. Pierre tied the game late in the second period and two power play goals from Jeremy Morin sealed the victory. Continue reading »

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Jan 102013
 

By Chris Block

While it can’t officially be announced until after the NHLPA membership ratifies the new CBA on Saturday, the Chicago Blackhawks have jumped the gun a bit by recalling four players from AHL Rockford.

Nick Leddy, Marcus Kruger, Andrew Shaw and Brandon Bollig were all recalled by the Blackhawks on Monday January 7th.  This, one day after the NHL and Player’s association hammered out the framework for a new collective bargaining agreement to end the NHL Lockout.

All four players were held out of Rockford’s home game Wednesday night against first-place Grand Rapids.  The transactions will be made official this weekend.  Three of the four were in Chicago skating with most of the other Blackhawks players at informal on-ice workouts beginning Tuesday.  Nick Leddy joined in on Thursday.

One player who was surprisingly left out of the initial group of four call-ups is Rockford IceHogs alternate captain, and the team’s leading goal scorer, Ben Smith.

Smith, 24, scored his 15th goal of the season on Wednesday night.  He also ranks second in points scored by an IceHogs player, 26, seven behind team captain Martin St. Pierre. Continue reading »

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Dec 192012
 

By Chris Block

Riding a four game losing streak (0-3-1-0), the Rockford IceHogs drive 93 miles northeast tonight where they’ll visit the BMO Harris Bradley Center to face off with the Milwaukee Admirals for the second time in six days.

The lone point Rockford has picked up in those four contests came in a 4-3 overtime loss in Milwaukee this past Friday.  Rockford trailed the Admirals 3-1 midway through that game until goals by Brandon Pirri and captain Martin St. Pierre forced an overtime session.  However, a breakdown in the IceHogs end resulted in Kevin Henderson surprising Carter Hutton with the game-winning shot a minute and forty-five seconds in to send the IceHogs back to Rockford with only the one consolation standings point.

Although the IceHogs (13-12-1-1) have lost both of their games since dropping first-place to the Griffins in Grand Rapids on December 9th, that one point earned in Milwaukee has been enough force Rockford back into a tie with Grand Rapids for the top spot in the Midwest Division.  The Griffins has also lost their past two games since moving into first in the division.  Grand Rapids hosts the Rochester Americans tonight at Van Andel Arena.

The Midwest division race is as tight as it could possibly be, now a third of the way through the 76 game American Hockey League season.  One point separates last-place Milwaukee (12-11-2-1, 27 points) from Grand Rapids and Rockford in the top spot. Continue reading »

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Dec 012012
 

By Chris Block

Rockford continued its recent road winning ways with a 5-2 come from behind win before a crowd of 6,549 in Charlotte on Saturday night.  The IceHogs handed the Charlotte Checkers, the second-place team in the Western Conference, their 6th loss of the season though it was Charlotte’s 4th in 7 games in its home rink.

With the team’s hottest goal scorer, Andrew Shaw, out of the lineup serving a one game, and most recent, suspension Rockford looked to its big guns to pull them out of another big whole the team dug itself early on Saturday night.

The IceHogs got unanswered goals from Brandon Saad, Ben Smith, Jeremy Morin and two from captain Martin St. Pierre.  The captain, recognized as one of the slickest set-up men in the AHL, also fell an assist shy of registering the Gordie Howe Hat Trick on Saturday.

Rockford has now strung four consecutive road wins together after starting the season 1-4-0-1 on opposing ice surfaces.

And, for the first time this season, the IceHogs sit two games above the .500 mark at 11-9-0-1 with their win in Charlotte. Continue reading »

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Sep 112012
 

By Chris Block

This week we’re joined by Mike Peck, play-by-play voice of the Rockford IceHogs, to preview the 2012-13 IceHogs’ team.

On this show we discuss the progressions made in the games of prospects Carter Hutton, Brandon Bollig, Dylan Olsen, Ryan Stanton, Joe Lavin and others. We take a look at who will emerge as the IceHogs team leaders and captains for this season, the changes in Jeremy Morin‘s game, the impact Rob Flick can have in the Rockford lineup, Pete Leblanc‘s journey to an NHL contract, Rostislav Olesz‘s status as well as the potential IceHogs roster should the NHL Lockout proceed as expected.

Mike also gives us the scouting report on Rockford signing Martin St. Pierre.

We discuss the ramifications of today’s Michal Rozsival signing by the Blackhawks and how that move will impact Rockford’s roster. [see Depth Chart]

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PuckChatter~Radio will return next week with the first show of the dreaded NHL Lockout period.

**Next week seems like the perfect time to do some Blackhawks prospects / Rockford IceHogs Q&A from you, the listener.  So if you have any questions in general about this season’s IceHogs, or follow ups to anything Mike and I discussed on this show, post those questions in the comment section below, or its probably better to email those to me directly at PuckChatter@Gmail.com.

And again, if you missed last week’s interview with former Blackhawk Steve Ludzik, check it out!  Ludzy is a tremendous interview and was very generous with his time with us.  As always, he told some great stories and dropped some interesting nuggets down for us.

**I should point out a correction from the show.  I misspoke.  Michal Rozsival’s deal is a 1-year, $2M agreement.


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Aug 222012
 

Photo credit: www.sskoveralltalltid.se

By Chris Block

For the second consecutive year, the Blackhawks have teamed up with a European league team for a friendly preseason tune-up.

Twelve Blackhawks players and prospects are in the town of Södertälje, Sweden this week taking part in a week-long mini conditioning camp.

These Blackhawks are guests of the Södertälje Sportklubb (SSK), a team in the Allsvenskan league, a level below the Swedish Elite League (Elitserien), as the Södertälje team makes its final preparations to begin its 2012-13 regular season.

List of Blackhawks players and prospects in Sweden for this week’s workouts:

Nick Leddy
Marcus Kruger
Dylan Olsen
Jimmy Hayes
Kevin Hayes
Ben Smith
Brandon Pirri
Jeremy Morin
Brandon Saad
Adam Clendening
Klas Dahlbeck

Brandon Bollig will join the group on Wednesday after clearing up a passport issue. Continue reading »

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Jul 142012
 

By Chris Block

TTMI contributor and HockeysFuture.com Blackhawks writer Brad Gardner joined me Saturday afternoon for a special Chicago Blackhawks 2012 Prospect Camp review edition of PuckChatter~Radio.

Brad was on hand for all five days this summer’s camp and breaks down the performances of the players involved.

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Some of the topics discussed on the show….

-TTMI/PuckChatter~Radio turns 3 today
-Stephen Johns skips out on this camp
-Brandon Saad, Teuvo Teravainen and Phillip Danault a cut above
-Which prospects we’ll see next in a Hawks uniform
-Mark McNeill a year later
-Chris Calnan’s next move
-The goaltending
-Joakim Nordstrom and Klas Dahlbeck coming to America
-Garret Ross the next Shaw?
-Kevin Hayes improving
-Kent Simpson or Mac Carruth
-Son of Chris Chelios
-A 6-foot 9-inch Swedish defenseman
-And much, much more

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