Tag Archives: Brian Connelly

Hawks’ prospect Brian Connelly thriving in 3rd year

Brian Connelly

By Chris Block

Third year pro, and IceHogs defenseman, Brian Connelly is emerging as one of the AHL’s best defenseman.

Not best young defenseman, the Bloomington, Minnesota native is one of the top blue liners in the AHL, period.

A player head coach Ted Dent described as “our Duncan Keith,” Connelly is handling a heavy workload given to him by his boss, and thriving in doing so.

“He’s playing at a high level, the highest I’ve seen since he’s been in Rockford,” Dent told us.  “[Connelly] is just controlling the game, shooting the puck well, making good decisions and he’s playing good defense too away from the puck.”

Dent was an assistant for the previous four seasons in Rockford prior to being promoted to head coach in July after Bill Peters took a job as an assistant under Mike Babcock in Detroit.  So, Dent has seen Connelly up close and helped guide the undersized blue liner’s pro career.

Connelly (5-10, 185) has always been a good puck mover, but his ability to lead and hit a teammate in stride and control the flow of his team’s attack has never been better. Read more »

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Hogs lose 5th straight at home, blanked by Peoria

It’s a little early to panic, but the IceHogs are off to an auspicious start to the season on their home ice.

On Saturday, a crowd of 4,715 witnessed the IceHogs’ fifth-consecutive home ice loss, a 3-0 shutout to the Peoria Rivermen.  The defeat drops Rockford’s record to 1-5-0-0 at home and 5-7-1-0 overall.

Rockford now sits firmly in 5th and last place in the Midwest division, three points behind the Chicago Wolves, who have played just four of their thirteen games at Allstate Arena so far.  The IceHogs are also four points behind 3rd place Milwaukee, who have two games in hand on Rockford.

“When we’re on the road, we’re just relaxed. We just go out and play our game.  We’re tight and a little unsure of ourselves at home,” IceHogs captain Brandon Segal said after Saturday’s loss.

“It’s kind of frustrating because obviously these are the points we need right now and we’re not getting them.”

The IceHogs came into Saturday’s contest off a stunning 7-6 loss at Peoria on Friday.  Stunning, because Rockford led that game 6-4 with a minute and change left in regulation only allow two quick Phil McRae goals and then to lose the game in overtime on a questionable goaltender interference non-call that left the IceHogs incensed.

Peoria’s offense picked up where it left off Friday night and got going early when T.J. Hensick gave the Rivermen an early 1-0 lead.  Brett Sterling skating down the far half wall found Hensick streaking to along the goal line to the net, stringing a pass through two IceHogs defenders.  Hensick held the pass and skated around a weak stick-check attempt by Alexander Salak and roofed an easy nonchalant backhander far right corner 2:54 into the game. Read more »

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Wolves kick IceHogs 4-1, Sweep weekend home and home series

A bad non-call in favor of the Chicago Wolves and an anemic Rockford IceHogs’ power play told the story Saturday night in a 4-1 Wolves’ victory at the BMO Harris Bank Center.

The crowd of 4,279, on hand for the IceHogs’ second home tilt of the season, witnessed Billy Sweatt clearly redirecting Chicago’s second goal in with his skate and past Alexander Salak early in the middle frame to give the visitor’s a 2-0 lead.  However, veteran AHL referee Terry Koharski did not see it that way and allowed the goal to stand.  The IceHogs blew a lot of smoke, but never truly recovered.

While they were on their heels most of the night, the Wolves withstood a barrage of IceHogs’ shots.  Goaltender Matt Climie made 47 saves in all.   One night after his teammate Eddie Lack stopped all 35 Rockford shots in a 2-0 Wolves victory down the road in Rosemont, Illinois.

The shot board tells a story of one-sided dominance for Rockford on Saturday night, but the truth is the IceHogs were not at their best in this game. Read more »

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TTMI~Radio, e.89 – “‘Hog Changes” w/ Mike Peck, voice of the Rockford IceHogs

On this edition of TTMI~Radio I’m joined by Mike Peck, the voice of the Rockford IceHogs.

Mike returns to help us preview the 2011-12 IceHogs’ season by examining the coaching change, new bench boss Ted Dent and the AHL squad’s roster turnover.  We also get Mike’s scouting report on Brandon Segal, who spent the last half of the 2004-05 season in Rockford while a member of the Nashville Predators’ organization.

We also take a look at important players up front and on the defense this year in the wake of key losses offensively as well in experience and leadership.  Ben Smith, Joe Lavin, Jimmy Hayes and Jeremy Morin are discussed as well.  We also get an update on rink refurbishments currently going on at the Beemo Center.

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Thanks as always to Mike for taking time out to speak with us.

Rockford IceHogs single-game tickets are now on sale at IceHogs.com or you can buy tickets by calling (815) 968-5222.  Advanced single-game tickets are available starting at $7.00, up to $22.00.  Day-of-game sales are an additional $1 per seat.

The IceHogs open their regular season home slate on Saturday night October 8th against the Grand Rapids Griffins. You can view the entire IceHogs’ schedule here or in printable PDF form here.

Rockford will also host two preseason home games at BMO Harris Bank Center (formerly the MetroCentre).  The first versus the Chicago Wolves on Wednesday night September 28th at 7:05pm.  Then on Saturday October 1 against the Peoria Rivermen, also at 7:05.

ChrisBlock@TheThirdManIn.com

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Contingency insurance: Previewing potential 2011-12 Blackhawks call ups

photo: HockeyBroad.com

By Brad Gardner

All thirty NHL teams are optimistic at this time of summer, but the one thing we can all be sure of is that everything will not go according to plan. Injuries have their way of piling up, players may not live up to expectations, or teams may find that progress made during the summer in one area has left them with a hole elsewhere in the game plan. One of the Blackhawks organization’s responses to the unpredictable nature of the NHL season has been keeping their AHL affiliate within arms reach, roughly 90 miles west on I-90 in Rockford, Illinois. The Third Man In takes an admittedly early look at some possible mid-season scenarios and introduces the prospects who may be expected to answer the call.

So you need a top six forward…

Safe bet: Jeremy Morin is the easy answer here after a solid nine game trial last season. Coming back from a concussion, though, he’ll get back into the swing of things with the IceHogs to start the season. His best asset may be his goal-scoring ability, but he showed as a rookie that he was willing to play any role to stay in the Chicago line-up. The 20-year-old winger is the organization’s best bet if the power play is in need of new life – his cheetah-quick release would be a dangerous weapon with a set-up guy like Kane feeding him the puck. Read more »

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Injured IceHogs advance season-long win streak; Jimmy Hayes debuts

Hours after the Chicago Blackhawks and NHL office made his first professional hockey contract official, Jimmy Hayes got his first experience in the pro ranks for the Rockford IceHogs.

Under the guise of an amateur-try out contract, Hayes made his debut in Cleveland on Wednesday night as the IceHogs took on the Lake Erie Monsters.  Hayes’ entry-level pro contract with the Hawks kicks in on July 1st.

Hayes acquitted himself quite well in his unofficial pro debut.  He exhibited nice hands, decent wheels and didn’t seem too out of place all things considered.  The adjustment from college to the pro-pace wasn’t too much of a factor, at least in Lake Erie.  Oklahoma City on Friday poses a different challenge.

On his first shift, skating with Mathis Olimb and Ben Smith on the Hogs’ second-line Hayes showed good strides in transition leading a Hogs’ odd-man rush up the right side boards.  Hayes strung a slick pass just an inch or two further than Olimb could handle though, coming down just left of the slot and they didn’t get a scoring chance there.

In the middle period, Hayes again led a rush, but it also amounted to nothing.  Hayes was carrying the lead with Olimb and Andy Bohmbach on a 3-on-2, but Hayes lost the handle as he strode through the right circle.  He finished the game with three shots.  He’s not shy on the body but it appears he prefers to use his stick and he’ll have to shake that too much finesse with his head down college habit.  So its great for the Hawks, and IceHogs, Hayes is able to join up for some valuable minutes before an all-important off season.

Before the game Bill Peters noted he plans to dress Hayes in all seven (Wednesday included) of the IceHogs remaining games.  Peters was down six regulars (add another if you count Jeremy Morin) on Wednesday, so Hayes saw as much or more ice time as he figures to get in any single outing over the final two weeks of the season. Read more »

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Hogs, Hawks & Buff notes, All-timers and HHOF, Circus part one, Brightest prospect

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. Read more »

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