Dec 222017
 

By Chris Block

A few updates on some injured IceHogs ahead of Friday night’s game as Rockford hosts the Chicago Wolves.

Erik Gustafsson (left arm)

Hasn’t played since taking a hard, clean check from, now Minnesota Wild forward Joel Eriksson Ek on November 24th when Ek was with the Iowa Wild.

Gustafsson returned to the ice this week, practicing in a non-contact sweater for a few days.

On Friday, Gustafsson did not wear a no-contact sweater. He will not play on Friday and his status for Saturday’s game against Grand Rapids is unknown.  Unless he’s desperately needed for some reason, I would expect Gustafsson’s return to be held off until after the Christmas break.

Luc Snuggerud (upper)

Was a favored target of Griffins’ forward Evgeny Svechnikov during the third period of Snuggerud’s last appearance on December 8th. Svechnikov checked Snuggerud hard five times during that third period. Snuggerud finished that game but sat out Rockford’s game the next night and hasn’t appeared in a game since.

Snuggerud returned to practice this week as well, but has not done so without a yellow non-contact sweater as of yet. Snuggerud’s return is expected in another week or so.

J-F Berube (left leg)

Berube left Rockford’s win over Grand Rapids on December 9th midway through that contest with an apparent left leg injury. He was unable to put any weight on the leg as he left the ice. He got some good news days later when it was determined that he’d only miss 4-6 weeks of game action.

Berube is expected to begin skating again soon and his return is still pegged for the second week of January, according to a source.

Jordin Tootoo (arm)

Jeremy Colliton told Scott Powers of The Athletic last week that Tootoo had re-aggravated the injury that has supposedly kept him on the sidelines all season. Colliton also shared that there’s “no timetable now when we’ll see him.”

According to multiple sources, Tootoo reaggravated his injury during the first week while skating in Rockcord early this month and hasn’t skated with the IceHogs since.

Radovan Bondra (unknown)

Multiple sources now have relayed that Bondra is likely to miss the rest of the season.

Bondra suffered what appeared to be an upper body injury during the last game he played with the Indy Fuel back on November 18th. The next day he was put on the 21-day injured reserve list and returned to the Rockford IceHogs, who own his contract.

I happened to see that game in Indy. The funny thing about it was Bondra was injured midway through the second period on an innocent looking play with Tulsa Oilers defenseman Chris Joyaux, who is a Chicago area product and former teammate of Anthony Louis at Miami of Ohio.

Bondra was skating hard on a forecheck when he came together with Joyaux, just inside Tulsa’s zone. Joyaux cleared the puck up ice and, in doing so, his stick came entangled with Bondra’s left arm. Bondra appeared to be in immediate pain and skated off the ice.

Thing is, Bondra never left the bench – and he even returned to the bench for the 3rd period. However, he never skated another shift.

The team has been tight-lipped on the particulars of Bondra’s injury and subsequent care, but after some consultation with IceHogs and Blackhawks medical staff, the decision has been that Bondra is likely to be shut down for the season.

Prior to the injury, there had been some talk of returning Bondra to Prince George of the WHL, where he played last season. Bondra signed with Rockford when it looked like Prince George might not be able to fit him on their roster. But an import slot opened up in November and there was at least some consideration to that move.

In 11 games with Indy, Bondra posted one goal and was a minus-3. Watching him play, he seemed much more comfortable forechecking, and skating without the puck than handling it – which is never a good sign.

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Dec 212017
 

By Chris Block

In the past couple of days, I had a chance to watch Rockford’s most recent three games played Tuesday, Friday and Sunday of last week.

With a slight exception of Friday’s 2-1 shootout loss in San Antonio, the week was as ugly as it looks on paper for Rockford.  After starting December with four consecutive wins, the IceHogs’ offense chilled.

The IceHogs mustered just one goal in each of the three contests, losing all three outings (0-2-0-1).  Rockford’s power play went 0 for 13 and is now statistically the worst (11.8%) in the AHL, and showing no signs of improving.

One positive was the play of Jeff Glass, who got all three starts with J-F Berube getting sidelined by a left leg injury during Rockford’s 7-2 win over Grand Rapids on December 9th.  Berube is not expected back until the second week of January. In the meantime, Collin Delia will serve as the second goalie.

Glass stopped 101 of the 107 shots he faced last week for a 94.4% save percentage and a 1.96 GAA for those three starts.  On the season, Glass is 8-4-1-1 with a .915 save percentage and 2.70 GAA. In his previous four appearances, Rockford had averaged 4.5 goals for Glass and overall on the year they’ve supported him to the tune of 2.9 goals per appearance.

Tuesday December 12 vs Chicago Wolves – IceHogs lose 2-1 on late goal

The week began with a 2-1 loss in Rockford to the suddenly resurgent Chicago Wolves. The IceHogs rival spent much of the first nine weeks of the season mired in last place in the Central Division. All of a sudden the Wolves are back to the .500 mark with a six-game winning streak heading into this Friday night’s rematch with the IceHogs in Rockford.

The Wolves knocked off Rockford with 2 seconds left in regulation last Tuesday.  Tomas Jurco was a late scratch in this one after skating in the warmup. Matheson Iacopelli, the most healthy-scratched ‘Hogs forward this season, took Jurco’s spot in the lineup. Continue reading »

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Nov 082017
 


By Chris Block

A healthy influx of fresh prospects and NHL experienced forwards have helped drive the Rockford IceHogs to their best start since the 2014-15 campaign.

Rockford rolled off 6 wins in its initial 7 contests, with the only loss coming to rival Milwaukee.

Since, the IceHogs have faltered a bit, losing 3 of their last four and mustering just 9 goals in those four outings. Three of Rockford’s defeats overall have come against Milwaukee, with the other a 3-2 Halloween loss at Cleveland, a night the IceHogs power play let them down (0 for 7).

In all, it’s just the 4th time in 11 seasons that Rockford has posted 7 wins in its initial 10 games.  Only once in those three other seasons did the IceHogs go on to fail to qualify for the postseason. That year, 2013, Rockford followed up a 7-2-1-0 start by losing 8 of its next 10.  They eventually missed the playoffs by 4 points. The 2008-09 and 2014-15 teams did go on to the playoffs.

This year’s group has been steered by a combination of speed, solid blue line and goaltending play.

Rockford’s high-pace attack has caused opponents all some fits in the early going, but it’s come with some growing pains as some opponents have been able to take advantage of Rockford’s over-aggressive forecheck at times in transition.

IceHogs first-year coach Jeremy Colliton admits it’s still a work in progress. Continue reading »

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