Looking to return to their recent winning ways and stay within striking distance of first-place Grand Rapids ahead of two all-important matchups next week at the BMO with those same Griffins, the Rockford IceHogs (17-14-1-1) traveled to Hamilton, Ontario on Friday night to face a down-and-out Hamilton Bulldogs squad.
Hamilton came into Friday’s contest against Rockford with the worst record (11-18-1-2) in the AHL. Hamilton, the AHL affiliate to the Montreal Canadiens, had lost 8 of their past 9 contests since defeating Rockford 6-4 at the BMO Harris Bank Center on December 15th.
Worse yet, Hamilton had not scored a goal in more than three games before facing the IceHogs for the second and final time this season. The Bulldogs had been shutout in each of their previous three games, all road losses.
Former teammates Brandon Bollig and Kyle Hagel, drop the mitts and engage in a classic battle on December 15th at the BMO Harris Bank Center in Rockford.
Bollig and Hagel were teammates on the IceHogs in the 2010-11 season when Bollig was in his rookie season after spending two years at St. Lawrence University. Hagel, a Princeton University (2004-08) graduate, handled the bulk of the team’s enforcer role that season, fighting 31 times to Bollig’s 13. After that season, Hagel signed a two-way deal with the St. Louis Blues organization but his 2011-12 season was cut short in late October by major shoulder surgery. Hagel signed an AHL contract with his hometown Hamilton Bulldogs this past off season.
“He’s a tough kid,” Bollig said in respect of his former teammate following Saturday night’s contest.
“I’ve seen [Hagel] fight a lot of really tough guys. Those are the kind of fights that are fun when you’re in my position.”