By Chris Block
Behind another stellar week of goaltending from Carter Hutton, the Rockford IceHogs picked up five of a possible six points last week to improve their record to 26-26-2-5.
This marks the first time the IceHogs have sat at the .500 mark since way back on October 28th when the team was 4-4-0-0 after a win at Peoria, the same night Kyle Beach went down with a dislocated right shoulder.
The week began on Wednesday night as a flu bug hit the Rockford dressing room. The IceHogs, weakened also by the Andrew Shaw and Brandon Bollig call ups to Chicago earlier in the week, and without Jeremy Morin, put forth an amazing effort against the visiting Abbotsford Heat, one of the AHL’s best road teams.
Ben Smith was credited with his team-leading 8th power play goal to get the ‘Hogs on the board first. The goal was originally given to Ben Youds but the official scoring was flipped the next day. That goal also ended a 0 for 30 slump for the IceHogs power play units. And they needed just 3 seconds on their first power play of the night to end that nightmarish streak. The newest IceHog, Matt Fornataro knocked in his second goal in his fourth game since joining the team. The game went to seven rounds in the shootout with Abbotsford scoring four times on Hutton while Heat goalie Danny Taylor allowed three from the IceHogs. Rockford lost 3-2 but picked up a point.
Carter Hutton was the only reason the IceHogs were even in the game in Milwaukee after forty minutes on Friday night. Since signing an NHL contract with the Blackhawks on Feb 24, Hutton has been incredible for Rockford. The game was a rematch of the goalie-duel from six days earlier at the BMO between Hutton and Atte Engren. Hutton prevailed in that game winning 2-1 in a shootout. Engren stopped 35 shots in that game. In Friday’s contest, Rockford was outshot 33-13 after two periods but the game was tied 1-1 heading into the third period. In the final frame, the IceHogs got goals from Brandon Pirri (his team-leading 22nd) and Jeremy Morin (13th) to take the game 3-1. Rockford is now 5-1-0-1 against Milwaukee this season and have five game left with the Admirals beginning with a home-and-home this coming Saturday and Sunday.
By Chris Block
Carter Hutton said he and his agent were not contacted by the Blackhawks about signing an NHL contract until this past Wednesday.
“I didn’t expect it,” Hutton admitted after picking up his IceHogs leading 11th victory in a 3-2 win at Allstate Arena in Rosemont on Friday night. “It happened the day before I got put on waivers.”
Hutton had to be placed on waivers on Thursday for the purpose of signing him to the NHL contract. Per guidelines in the NHL collective bargaining agreement, Hutton first had to be offered to the 29 other NHL teams before he could officially become a Blackhawk. The contract itself was done and official on Thursday morning.
“It kind of was quick,” Hutton said of the negotiation. “There wasn’t too much to talk about. It was kind of a done deal right away.”
As covered on Friday, Hutton was on a one-year standard AHL deal with Rockford and has been with the team ever since being recalled from Toledo on December 3rd to replace an injured Alexander Salak. Hutton performed so well in Salak’s absence that he became the clear number one during that time and when Salak returned Alec Richards was sent to Toledo of the ECHL.
“It doesn’t really change a ton with me,” Hutton said.
By Chris Block
On Friday, the Blackhawks officially signed Rockford IceHogs goaltender Carter Hutton to a one-year, two-way contract. The deal is for the remainder of this season. Hutton was immediately then reassigned to the IceHogs by the Blackhawks.
With the IceHogs, Hutton has a record of 10-8-0-2 and owns a 2.93 goals against average and .902 save percentage. His 21 starts and 10 wins lead the IceHogs. With the exception of one period of relief of Alec Richards during a late October call up while Alexander Salak was away tending to the birth of his first child, all of Hutton’s numbers have been accumulated since his recall on December 3rd.
In 9 starts in the month of January, Hutton went 7-1-0-1 posting a 1.86 GAA and .934 save percentage.
Hutton signed a one-year AHL contract with the IceHogs on August 1st.
Unlike the situation last season with Garnet Exelby, who had signed a professional try-out contract with Rockford,
Led by a red-hot Carter Hutton in goal and a stingy penalty kill unit that has now killed off 23 consecutive power plays against, the Rockford IceHogs completed a weekend home-and-home sweep of the Chicago Wolves Saturday with a 3-2 win in Rosemont, Illinois.
In front of 15,920 at Allstate Arena, the largest crowd the IceHogs have played in front of in nearly three years, Rockford accomplished a third period come back for just the third time this season, all three coming in the past fourteen days. Saturday night’s victory also extended the Wolves losing streak to a season-high four games and brings Rockford’s road record to within one game of .500 at 9-10-1-2.
Carter Hutton stopped 37 shots on Saturday in his fifth consecutive start (4-1-0-0). In those five starts, Hutton boasts a 1.39 GAA and 95.1% save percentage.
Saturday re-matched two teams that had played 24 hours earlier in Rockford. On Friday night, Rostislav Olesz’s goal midway through the second period stood as the difference in a 3-2 IceHogs’ victory.
TheThirdManin~Radio returns Tuesday night, January 17th at 8pm central.
You’ll be able to listen live here.
On this week’s show, we’ll compare and contrast this year’s Chicago Blackhawks to the 2010-11 team. Also, we’ll take a look at the Rockford IceHogs’ weekend, why Brandon Pirri and Jeremy Morin were benched in Texas, an update on some injured Hogs and a look at Rockford’s goaltending.
It will also be the long-awaited return of the email bag including questions on trade possibilities, Kyle Beach, Akim Aliu, the Hall of Fame, Toews vs Datsyuk, my puppy dog and the terrible twos. We’ll have an update on my retirement, how our resolutions are progressing and much more. Join us on our road to 100.
Jeremy Morin lit the lamp for his 7th and 8th goals of the season, but a series of IceHogs penalties swung the momentum Wednesday afternoon. From there, the Chicago Wolves got two third period goals from Mark Mancari to defeat Rockford 4-2.
A mostly school kids field trip day crowd of 6,113 in Rosemont, Illinois witnessed their Wolves down the IceHogs for the fourth time in five meetings this season.
“Our penalty killing did a good job,” head coach Ted Dent said in the wake of the IceHogs’ 20th regulation loss (13-20-1-3). “I thought some of the (penalty) calls were below average, but what can you do?”
Recently, the IceHogs have put together some solid efforts. That can be said for each of their last four outings post-Christmas.
The IceHogs, however, are not a good enough team to overcome its mistakes typically, as their 11-18-1-3 clearly proves. Rockford has lost each of their last five games (0-4-0-1) and rank dead-last in the AHL, both in terms of their record and goals against (average of 3.8 per game).
Including Saturday night’s 3-2 regulation loss at Peoria, the team has lost its last three games by a margin of 4 goals, and that includes a late 145-foot empty netter by the Wolves on Thursday. At home Friday night, the IceHogs battled hard to pick up a point and get the game to a shootout, but Alec Richards let pucks by on the first three shooters he faced and Rockford lost the game 4-3.
A short-handed squad of IceHogs traveled to Peoria on New Years Eve afternoon for their 9th meeting of the 2011-12 season with the Peoria Rivermen.
By Chris Block
If Rostislav Olesz is upset over residing in Rockford these days, he’s surely not showing his hand.
When asked last week if he was disappointed when he learned the Blackhawks were reassigning him to their American Hockey League affiliate, Olesz described his feelings a different way.
“I wouldn’t say disappointed,” he replied.
“The disappointment was sitting in the stands and watching the game up [with the Blackhawks]. To play six, seven minutes a game is disappointing for a player.”
Olesz does not seem as phased by the demotion as he probably should be. The fact his one-way contract pays him the same no matter where he plays probably has that influence.
During his first three weeks with Rockford, Olesz turned down all media and interview requests, even from the IceHogs. He’s not a very talkative guy. Instead he says he wants to let his play do the talking.
The 26-year old, Czech-born left winger came over to the Blackhawks in the draft day deal that sent defenseman Brian Campbell to the Florida Panthers. Olesz said he learned of the trade on his first day back at home in the Czech Republic.
It was a man-for-man transaction. One ‘bad’ contract for another. In the deal, the Hawks gave themselves cap flexibility but also are now stuck with a player who they don’t have a place for, or know what to do with and they pay roughly half of what Campbell earned.
All along there was one caveat attached to the trade – the Panthers knew they were getting a top-end puck-moving defenseman who could eat a ton of minutes on their inexperienced blue line, while the Blackhawks had no idea what to expect from Olesz.
By Chris Block
Top Blackhawks prospect and Rockford IceHogs winger Jeremy Morin was suspended on Tuesday for the team’s next 3 games as result of an elbowing incident during Sunday’s 5-4 shootout loss in Milwaukee.
With six minutes remaining in the second period, Morin collided with Milwaukee Admirals center Joel Champagne, while chasing a loose puck deep in the Admirals’ zone.
Morin’s elbow connected with the left side of Champagne’s jaw as Morin attempted to box his opponent off the loose puck in the right corner behind the Admirals’ goal line.
Champagne was moving on the ice but did lay prone for several minutes while attended to by both the IceHogs and Admirals trainers. He was eventually placed on a backboard and stretchered across the ice before being sent to a hospital for further evaluation.
The play sequence began with a weak Champagne turnover in the neutral zone, forced by an Andrew Shaw backcheck. Seconds later, Brandon Pirri gained the Admirals’ blue line by lifting a puck, tossed backhand across the ice, leading Shaw along the far boards. Shaw won a one-on-one physical battle with defenseman Tyler Sloan and advanced that puck down low into the right corner. At this point, Morin read the play and came down from the middle of the slot in pursuit of the puck.
Joel Champagne actually should have gotten to that puck first, but he was slow to get there. Champagne saw Morin coming and pulled up to avoid a hit. Morin had time to adjust, and instead of throwing a check on Champagne, Morin chose to box him off the puck since Champagne was, in effect, surrendering possession to Morin. In seeing Champagne pull up and making his adjustment, Morin shifted his weight in turning his back to Champagne to shield the Milwaukee player off the puck.
As far as the elbow, Champagne was struck by an accidental blow from Morin’s left, trailing elbow.