After a spirited 4-2 win last night in Peoria, the IceHogs return home to MetroCentre in Rockford tonight for a clash with West Division leading Milwaukee Admirals.
Tonight will be the 8th in 10 season matchups between these two teams. Rockford comes in 2-3-1-1 against Milwaukee this season. The IceHogs have been outscored, 16-20. Rockford’s power play has lit the lamp 5 times in 26 chances (19.2%), while the penalty killing units have held Milwaukee to just four goals (24-28, 85.7%). Five of these games have essentially been decided by one goal (the Feb 4th contest at MIL saw Brett Palin pot an empty-netter to give the Admirals a 4-2 victory) and three have needed overtime, two of those extending to a shootout.
Rockford should be looking to extract a measure of redemption for a porous showing in the Bradley Center two weeks ago when the Admirals jumped out to a 5-0 lead by the 16:45 mark of the opening period. IceHogs head coach made two goaltending switches in the first period; Alec Richards to Hannu Toivonen and back to Richards.
Hannu Toivonen lasted barely two minutes in relief of Richards, allowing two goals on three shots.
With Richards securing Rockford’s win last night, he has now backstopped the team to their only three wins over the past five and a half weeks.
Look for Richards between the pipes tonight.
Jeff Taffe continues to carry the burden of offense on his back along with his center, Ryan Potulny.
Taffe has a 13-game point streak going into tonight’s game. 9 goals and 11 assists over that stretch. He’s also a minus-7 with 39 shots on goal (23.1 shooting percentage) in that time. A lot of the damage he’s done this season has come with the man advantage.
Ryan Potulny has a 5-game point streak going as well. 4 goals and 3 assists for Potulny. His plus/minus is even, with 14 shots getting to the net (28.6%) in his last five games.
Taffe is just two games shy now of the IceHogs’ AHL record for consecutive games point scoring streak. A marker held by Martin St. Pierre.
Tonight’s scratches: Brandon Pirri, Ryan Stanton, Jassen Cullimore, Ivan Vishnevskiy and Jeremy Morin.
Rockford recalled 6-foot 7-inch defenseman Simon Danis-Pepin from the Toledo Walleye (ECHL) today. The Montreal native and former Maine Black Bear appeared in 22 games with the Walleye since getting the assignment from Rockford to Toledo on January 8th. Danis-Pepin played with Toledo last night in a 8-5 loss at Kalamazoo. He was held off the scoresheet, but was a minus-4.
With Cullimore and Vishnevskiy already out with short-term injuries, the IceHogs were without an extra defenseman.
Danis-Pepin was drafted by the Blackhawks 61st overall in the 2nd round of the 2006 NHL Draft. He signed his three-year entry level deal officially on July 8, 2009 and is under contract to the organization through the 2011-12 season.
In that game in Kalamazoo last night, Mitch Versteeg, the brother of former Blackhawks and current Phiadelphia Flyers winger Kris Versteeg, recorded a “Gordie Howe Hat-trick”, scoring a goal, picking up an assist on the first goal of the game and getting a fighting major with 3:29 left in the game. Mitch is a 22-year old, 6’2 – 205 pound defenseman with no NHL affiliation.
Bill Peters’ lines tonight vs Milwaukee look like this:
Rob Klinkhammer – Ryan Potulny – Jeff Taffe
Mathis Olimb – Evan Brophey – Ben Smith
Kyle Hagel – Pete Leblanc – Igor Makarov
Brandon Bollig – Zach Torquato – Kyle Beach
On the defense:
Garnet Exelby – Dylan Olsen
Brian Connelly – Simon Danis-Pepin
Wade Brookbank – Shawn Lalonde
Kyle Beach’s demotion to the fourth line, or stay there, is in no doubt related to an undisciplined slashing penalty Beach took late in the second period last night at Peoria. With Beach in the box, Mark Cundari tied the game for the Rivermen. Luckily for Beach and the Hogs, Jeff Taffe posted his second of the night moments later and Rockford would hold on. But not enough to get Beach out of Peters’ doghouse tonight apparently. Old habits die hard.
Zach Torquato was also recalled from Toledo. He’s on an AHL contract with Rockford.
Consecutive games without a goal: Jassen Cullimore (60), Chris DiDomenico (19), Simon Danis-Pepin (19), Shawn Lalonde (19), Dylan Olsen (19), Nick Leddy (12), Ivan Vishnevskiy (12), Mathis Olimb (11), Kyle Hagel (8), Ben Smith (8), Brandon Bollig (7), Igor Makarov (7), Wade Brookbank (6), Andy Bohmbach (5), Evan Brophey (5), Kyle Beach (3), Brandon Pirri (3), Brian Connelly (2), Pete Leblanc (2), Garnet Exelby (1), Ryan Johnson (1), Jeremy Morin (1), Ryan Stanton (1), Rob Klinkhammer (-), Ryan Potulny (-), Jeff Taffe (-)
Consecutive games without a point: Jassen Cullimore (16), Dylan Olsen (16), Chris DiDomenico (14), Ivan Vishnevskiy (12), Kyle Hagel (8), Brandon Bollig (7), Wade Brookbank (6), Evan Brophey (5), Ben Smith (5), Simon Danis-Pepin (4), Mathis Olimb (3), Pete Leblanc (2), Brandon Pirri (2), Garnet Exelby (1), Ryan Johnson (1), Shawn Lalonde (1), Nick Leddy (1), Igor Makarov (1), Jeremy Morin (1), Kyle Beach (-), Andy Bohmbach (-), Brian Connelly (-), Rob Klinkhammer (-), Ryan Potulny (-), Ryan Stanton (-), Jeff Taffe (-),
-Evan Brophey is without a helper in his last 21 games played