Jan 152011
 

The Rockford IceHogs continue to do the cha-cha with the .500 mark in their pursuit of an AHL postseason berth.

Rockford finds themselves a game above the .500 mark for the 4th time in the last 16 days after a 3-1 victory over the visiting Texas Stars on Friday night.

Goals from Kyle Beach, Jeremy Morin and a late empty-netter by Ryan Potulny were enough to lead the IceHogs to victory against the Dallas Stars minor league affiliate.

38 games into the season (AHL season runs 80 games), Rockford is 17-16-1-4 and entrenched in last place (8th) in the AHL’s West Division.

Not all is lost, however.  The IceHogs own games in hand on every team in their division and being that the West division will likely send five teams to the playoffs, Rockford need only climb over three teams to reach that coveted fifth spot.

Friday’s game against the Stars was absolutely essential for the IceHogs.  Texas came into the game as the fourth-place team in the West and held an 11-point advantage on Rockford in the standings.  But with only two games in hand on Texas, Rockford could basically cross Texas off the list of teams they could realistically leap-frog had they not won Friday’s contest in regulation. Continue reading »

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Dec 312010
 

The Duluth News Tribune is reporting the Blackhawks have signed their 2009 1st round draft choice (28th overall) defenseman Dylan Olsen to a three-year entry level contract.

Olsen is a sophomore at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, currently one of the top five teams in Division-I college hockey.  Once a collegiate player signs a professional contract, he or she becomes ineligible to play collegiate athletics.

For Olsen, 19, the decision to leave his Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs teammates mid-season was academic related.  He turns 20 this coming Monday.

Kevin Pates of the Duluth paper is reporting Olsen will report to the Rockford IceHogs, presumably once the World Junior U20 championships conclude in Buffalo next week.

Olsen has been paired on the first defense unit with Team Canada captain and Nashville Predators’ prospect Ryan Ellis in the tournament.

Its being reported that Olsen’s contract calls for an NHL salary of $525,000 in his first year, $700,000 in the second and $810,000 in the third.  Olsen will earn the standard $67,500 while in the minors.  Each year has a signing bonus of $90,000 tacked on to it.

UMD head coach Scott Sandelin expressed his disappointment, but also gave clarity to the situation in an interview with Pates:

“Dylan was having a good year and we were expecting a better, more confident player to return to us after the experience of the junior tournament,” said UMD coach Scott Sandelin. “We knew how much making Canada’s team meant to him and that it could only help his play. We’re just disappointed he chose to make a change at midseason.”

Sandelin did note that recent academic developments would likely have left Olsen ineligible for the second semester.

Olsen is the second Blackhawks draft pick in the last two years to leave school early due to poor academics.

In January of 2009, University of New Hampshire defenseman and team captain Joe Charlebois was forced off his team in the middle of his senior season when he was ruled academically ineligible for the remainder of the season.  Charlebois subsequently signed his first pro contract with the Blackhawks and reported to the Rockford IceHogs.  Charlebois has since left the Blackhawks organization.

Olsen also becomes the third Chicago prospect this year to leave his college team early, joining Brandon Pirri (R.P.I.) and Nick Leddy (Minnesota) who both left school after their freshman seasons.

Olsen’s arrival clouds and already cluttered IceHogs’ blue line.  Assuming Nick Leddy returns to Rockford at the completion of the World Junior tournament, he’ll join Olsen, Brian Connelly, Garnet Exelby, Ryan Stanton, Ivan Vishnevskiy, Simon Danis-Pepin, Shawn Lalonde and Wade Brookbank (who splits time on the wing).  Not to mention the possibility of Jassen Cullimore returning at some point.

The Olsen signing does raise one issue roster-wise.  The Blackhawks are now at the maximum 50-man organizational roster limit.  Which means any acquisition the team makes must involve a player moving off the current chart of 50.

ChrisBlock@TheThirdManIn.com

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Dec 302010
 

The last-place Rockford IceHogs take the ice tonight looking for an absolutely essential two points versus division rival Houston Aeros.

The last place IceHogs will be in Oklahoma City, the team directly above them in the standings, this weekend for a two game set.  Rockford currently trails the Oklahoma City Barons by six points, and have three games in hand on them as well.

These next three games very well may determine the IceHogs playoff hopes.  Three wins would be ideal.  Any less than five points will be a setback.

Up front, the IceHogs will start with these lines:

Mathis Olimb – Ryan Potulny – Jeff Taffe

Kyle Beach – Brandon Pirri – Brandon Bollig

Rob Klinkhammer – Evan Brophey – Ben Smith

Kyle Hagel – Pete Leblanc – Igor Makarov

Coach Bill Peters will role four lines for the most part.  Leblanc skates on the first power play unit, which has featured Mathis Olimb on the left point.

Tonight’s defensive pairings should remain as they have since the Christmas break.  Wade Brookbank took the warmup, which is unusual.  Garnet Exelby has been hampered by what appears to be a lower-body injury of late.  That could be why.

Ryan Stanton – Brian Connelly

Garnet Exelby – Shawn Lalonde

Ivan Vishnevskiy – Simon Danis-Pepin

Scratches: Chris DiDomenico (healthy), Wade Brookbank (healthy), Hugh Jessiman (foot), Nick Leddy (loaned to Team USA-WJC), Jeremy Morin (loaned to Team USA-WJC)

Hannu Toivonen, who picked up the victory in Milwaukee on Tuesday night, will get the start.  Alec Richards is backing up.

One referee system tonight.  Marcus Vinnerborg, with Mike Hamilton and Aaron Mills calling the lines.

– IceHogs goal scoring droughts: Ryan Stanton (30), Garnet Exelby (29), Wade Brookbank (18), Simon Danis-Pepin (18), Chris DiDomenico (18), Nick Leddy (12), Brian Connelly (9), Rob Klinkhammer (9), Ivan Vishnevskiy (8), Brandon Pirri (8), Kyle Hagel (7), Hugh Jessiman (7), Ryan Potulny (7), Kyle Beach (6),  Igor Makarov (5), Brandon Bollig (3), Jeff Taffe (3), Pete Leblanc (2), Shawn Lalonde (1), Evan Brophey (0), Jeremy Morin (0), Mathis Olimb (0), Ben Smith (0),

DiDomenico and Stanton have each yet to score a professional goal.  Exelby’s drought is actually longer but dates back to 2003, when he last played in the AHL prior to this season.

ChrisBlock@TheThirdManIn.com

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Nov 292010
 

Listen to our guest spot on Radio Exposed last night with Tinky and Louie here, or check them out at their BTR page: BlogTalkRadio.com/RadioExposed.  It’s not a hockey show but I did answer questions regarding up and coming Blackhawk prospects, the spelling of Tomas Kopecky’s last name and Hawks fans dumbest questions.  Later we touched on a variety of topics including the new TSA pat-down procedures, airplane wood, Leslie Nielsen, TV in the bathroom, public restroom etiquette and peep-holes in dressing rooms at Lane Bryant.  Fun interview.

Superstar jumps on at about the 55 minute mark and I join in a few minutes later.  In the first hour Tinky and Louie further discuss TSA, complaining to the police that your hooker ripped you off, sex in a car that ends in a river, underrated hottie of the week and the Ugly Betty actor who slashed his mom to pieces because he believed her to be possessed by the devil.

Radio Exposed is Live every Sunday night from 8-10 central time.

— Tonight, TheThirdManIn~Radio returns to Mondays in our usual 8pm time slot.  We’ll be analyzing a successful Blackhawks ‘Circus Trip.’  On the show two weeks ago we stated anything less than four wins would be a disappointment.  While the Calgary no-showing still stings, two victories over the weekend in Southern California are very encouraging and something the Hawks should build off of in this four-game homestand.

I’ll also have a full-analysis of the week that was in Rockford, Dustin Byfuglien’s great start, the real amusement in John Scott’s fight Saturday night, a ton of listener/reader emails and we’ll play a little word association game with the Blackhawks’ organization player chart.

So that’s tonight, 8pm central at BlogTalkRadio.com/TheThirdManIn or in the archives late tonight there, on this site or at ITunes.

Check back here late this morning for a new report.  Click here for a detailed review of Saturday’s IceHogs 5-0 loss to Peoria.

ChrisBlock@TheThirdManIn.com

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Nov 162010
 

 Tonight we are joined by Mike Peck, voice of the Rockford IceHogs. Peck gives us his unique perspective on several Chicago Blackhawks prospects including Kyle Beach, Jeremy Morin, Igor Makarov and Ivan Vishnevskiy.  We also check on the health status of a few ‘Hogs, and also confirm news of the impending return of Mathis Olimb.  In addition, Mike discusses his background, his experience in the announcer’s booth and differences between UHL vs AHL.

Dieter Kurtenbach is in the guest-host chair on this edition of TTMI~Radio to discuss the Blackhawks at the 1/4 mark of the 2010-11 season, the impending 6-game road trip, what’s wrong with Duncan Keith and Marian Hossa and if Dieter’s ready to eat crow on Viktor Stalberg.

We also tackle the issues between bloggers and MSM (mainsteam sports media) and Tyler Dellow’s controversial discovery in NHL VP of Hockey Ops Colin Campbell’s email exchanges with former Director of Officiating Stephen Walkom.  And we ask the questions, “Would the reaction to this story been different if it were discovered by a member of MSM?” and “At what point should bloggers be held up to the same ethical and professional standards as members of the MSM?”

Thanks for listening…

Interview: Mike Peck, voice of Rockford IceHogs
TheThirdManIn~Radio~e.61~ Tuesday Nov 16, 2010

w/Dieter Kurtenbach, co-host ~ Right-Click to Download 

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 – TTMI~Radio returns Live, Tuesday November 23rd, 8pm.  Listen Live 

ChrisBlock@TheThirdManIn.com

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Nov 152010
 

First off a few notes on Rockford from the weekend.  The IceHogs dropped both games in San Antonio against the Coyotes’ farm team Thursday and Friday.  I’ll have more details later today after I have a chance to watch Thursday’s game.

Thursday was reported to be a lackluster affair.  Rockford lost 1-0.  Alec Richards stopped 37 shots in the loss.

Friday, which I have seen, wasn’t much different until the final twenty minutes.  The IceHogs entered the third period down 3-1 after giving up three even-strength goals (though one effectively was a power play tally – more on that in a moment) but were unable to overcome the whole they dug in the middle frame.

The story of Friday’s game was head coach Bill Peters‘ decision to bench Kyle Beach for the entire third period.  Beach took two penalties in the second period.  The first, a roughing minor after a whistle aside the San Antonio goal.  Beach had tried a wrap-around attempt but was thwarted by Chicago product Al Montoya.  With Beach whacking away for a potential rebound, he was aggressively shoved away by a Rampage defender.  Beach, unhappy with this, came back swinging and punched (glove on) the San Antonio player twice in the mouth.   Later in the period Beach was given an unsportsmanlike minor for saying too much as it appeared.  Just as that penalty expired and Beach was stepping out of the box, Mathieu Beaudoin scored to give his team a 2-1 lead.  Beach did not see the ice after that.

Whatever the motivation, Rockford came out for the third period a newly inspired bunch and carried the play for the most part.  Nick Leddy fired a slap shot through traffic and past a Hugh Jessiman screen to trim the deficit to 3-2 three minutes and twenty seconds into the period.  But the Hogs couldn’t solve Montoya again despite 14 third period shots and a late 6 on 4 power play with Alec Richards pulled from his net. Continue reading »

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Nov 092010
 

First off, I’d like to thank Buddy Oakes of Preds On The Glass for having me on his radio show last night.  We talked for about an hour and a half about the Blackhawks, Predators, head shots and what can be done to prevent such hits and some of the injuries that result from those.  If you’re a Twitter-er and ever need a Predators fix, you should follow Buddy.  His other guest last night was Mark from another Predators site, TheViewFrom111.  I jumped on about ten minutes in.  A direct link to listen to last night’s show is here

And after you listen to that, and if you haven’t had your fill of my flu-ridden twang, TheThirdManIn~Radio returns tonight, Live at 8pm central at BlogTalkRadio.com/TheThirdManIn.   No guest tonight.  We’ll have plenty of news, notes and perspective from the two Rockford IceHogs games of the past weekend; Which Rockford prospects are close to helping, who isn’t and who doesn’t belong in the AHL.  I had a chance to take in both games; losses, on Saturday and Sunday.  We’ll get to many more of your emails.  If you have a question or topic you’d like to hear addressed on the show, send me an email at radio@TheThirdManIn.com or ChrisBlock@TheThirdManIn.com with “radio show” included in the subject and we’ll get to it on the show….  I actually have an insightful and useful fantasy hockey segment tonight.  Unlike the one I spewed from the crack of my backside last Tuesday.  Professional operation we have here.  Of course we’ll discuss what’s wrong with the Hawks.  What needs to change and small alterations to be made to turn things around?  We’re also shooting straight on what Jack Skille can do if he wants to become an effective, permanent NHLer.

— My intention was to do another full IceHogs postgame report Sunday night after their game with Peoria, however, with travel, work and being ridden with sick and overdoses of over-the-counter anti-flu medicines, Sunday’s game recap dropped off my radar.  If you missed my detailed report of Saturday’s demoralizing 3-1 loss to Manitoba, click here.

Instead, I’ll share the bullet points from Sunday’s 5-1 loss at Carver Arena in Peoria. Continue reading »

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