May 132015
 

By Chris Block

Returning home for Games 3 through 5 of their best-of-seven series down 2-0 to Grand Rapids, the Rockford IceHogs took to the ice on Wednesday night with an automatic sense of urgency in an almost must-win situation.

The IceHogs exhibited that urgency and desperation before a crowd of just 1,780 at BMO Harris Bank Center in a fiery and physical opening twenty minutes in Game 3.

That dominant first period set the table for an eventual 4-1 IceHogs victory.

Mark McNeill scored his 2nd goal of the postseason just 25 seconds into Grand Rapids’ first power play of the game, a controversial five minute major assessed midway into the first period. The breakaway goal gave the IceHogs a 1-0 lead. Rockford’s penalty kill kept a consistent pressure on the Griffins’ power play throughout the 5 minute kill and prevented the visitor’s from tying the game.

Later, when Rockford got its first chance on the power play, Ryan Hartman banked a pass to himself at the Grand Rapids blue line and strode in alone the same way McNeill had earlier and beat Griffins’ starter Tom McCollum with 1:24 to play in the opening frame. Hartman’s goal would stand as the game-winner.

“We knew this was a must win for us and we came out in the first period and were a desperate hockey team,” said goaltender Michael Leighton, who made 23 saves in Rockford’s 4-1 win in Game 3. Continue reading »

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Jan 232015
 
Leighton_2015Jan13_Charlotte_320x309_IceHogsMichael Leighton – Photo credit: Rockford IceHogs Hockey


By Chris Block

Rockford IceHogs accomplished something Thursday night they had not before this season – score 1 goal and win.

Matt Carey blasted a power play goal by Iowa Wild goalie John Curry with 6:44 remaining in the third period to give the IceHogs a 1-0 lead, a score that stood as the final.

The IceHogs have scored 1 goal or less in 12 of their 43 games. That’s 27.9 percent of the season to date.

Previously Rockford had found ways to earn points without scoring a goal. They’ve lost 1-0 in overtime, another time in a shootout. But until Thursday they had not figured out how to win a game by a 1-0 score.

Michael Leighton stopped 23 shots in picking up his 11th win and 4th shutout this season and 40th of his career. Continue reading »

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Oct 102014
 

2014Oct02_MarkMcNeill_IceHogs_Wolves_Preseason

Mark McNeill skates in a preseason game Oct 2nd in Rockford
Photo courtesy of Rockford IceHogs

By Chris Block

Rockford IceHogs open their season tomorrow night when they host Milwaukee at the BMO Harris Bank Center at 7pm.

The Blackhawks have finalized the AHL roster and it was announced today. The IceHogs will carry 24 skaters to start the season, which is allowed in the American Hockey League.

Scott Darling and Michael Leighton, as expected, will be the IceHogs goalie tandem. Mac Carruth should be given a chance to do the heavy lifting in Indianapolis, on the Hawks’ new ECHL affiliate, Indy Fuel. It seems as though the Rockford duo will split the workload evenly for now.

What’s going to be interesting is how Rockford coach Ted Dent handles his defense. Though, that may be dictated to him by the Hawks’ brass. The IceHogs start the season with 8 defensemen – Adam Clendening, Klas Dahlbeck, T.J. Brennan, Ville Pokka, Stephen Johns, Viktor Svedberg, Zach Miskovic and Dillon Fournier.

Politically, I could see Rockford dressing seven defensemen some nights until something gives on that body count.

The forward group will look something like this…. Continue reading »

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Sep 272014
 

By Chris Block

The Blackhawks reached the halfway point of the exhibition season on Friday night, dropping a 4-1 decision to the visiting New York Rangers before an announced sellout United Center crowd of 20,613.

Dennis Rasmussen, a Swedish free agent signing from over the off season, was the lone Blackhawks’ scorer. Corey Crawford saw a full sixty minutes for the first time this exhibition and stopped 25 of 29 Rangers’ shots. Each side saw three power plays, with the Rangers drawing the lone conversion, a J.T. Miller redirect that beat Crawford with 6:02 to go in regulation. That strike put the Blueshirts on top 3-1. A flukey goal 100 seconds later that went to Marek Hrivik after he stick-checked Marian Hossa near the Hawks’ net put the game out of the home team’s reach.

The night got off to bad start quickly when Brent Seabrook twice failed to clear the zone and Oscar Lindberg gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead just 50 seconds into the game. Continue reading »

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Sep 242014
 

Stan Bowman

By Chris Block

Amidst Tuesday night’s exhibition opener at United Center, which was essentially a nothing evening save for Cuba Gooding Jr.’s disrobing during the very first conciliatory version of the between-periods Shoot the Puck competition, the only intelligence of any substance coming away from the event took place in the CSN Chicago broadcast booth during the second period.

Stan Bowman joined Pat Foley and Eddie Olcyzk for the initial ten minutes of the second stanza for something of a Blackhawks’ state of September address.

Mostly-discussed were the team’s top prospects in camp and their individual progressions, with Jeremy Morin, Teuvo Teravainen, Phillip Danault and Klas Dahlbeck being spotlighted. Rockford IceHogs’ coach Ted Dent also received high praise from Bowman after Foley raised his name. Continue reading »

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