PuckChatter~Radio returned Tuesday night with special guest Stephen Nelson, formerly the Rockford IceHogs radio; pre, intermission and postgame host.
Stephen joined us to share his experiences working for, and with the Rockford IceHogs this past season. He talked about his favorite players to work with and the new player profile feature he helped craft this season.
He also talked about the team’s early struggles experienced this past season and why Stephen always remained confident the IceHogs would turn things around.
Nelson gave us some behind the scenes insight on some of the top IceHogs and Blackhawks prospects including the special bond Ben Smith developed with the late Jimmy Newcomer, the 19-year old Rockford area kid who was suddenly diagnosed with terminal cancer who Smith visited in the hospital late one night and remained in contact with up until Newcomer passed away a few weeks ago.
On Friday, the Chicago Blackhawks announced they have reached terms on a 1-year contract with center Pete Leblanc. It will be a two-way (NHL/AHL) agreement.
Leblanc was originally the Blackhawks 7th round selection (186th overall) in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. After spending four years at the University of New Hampshire, Leblanc turned pro with the Rockford IceHogs.
The Hamilton, Ontario native has spent the past two seasons with the Rockford IceHogs on AHL contracts as the Blackhawks had elected not to offer Leblanc an NHL contract until now.
In 70 games this season, Leblanc has posted 23 goals and 20 assists for the IceHogs. Since being a healthy scratch for three consecutive games in early November, Leblanc has scored all 23 of his goals over the most recent 61 contests.
He is currently tied for the team lead in goals scored (23) with Brandon Pirri. And Leblanc is second on the team in overall points, trailing Pirri by twelve points, with 43. Leblanc has a plus/minus rating of plus-2. It was Leblanc’s elevated level of play that caused veteran Brett McLean to slip down the IceHogs depth chart and even to the wing on the fourth line before McLean opted to play out the rest of the season in Switzerland. Read more »
Without the services of Ben Smith and leading scorer Brandon Pirri, the Rockford IceHogs extended their recent dominance of the Milwaukee Admirals behind goaltender Carter Hutton’s 22-save performance.
Rockford defeated the Admirals 4-1 on Saturday night on goals from unlikely sources in Chris DiDomenico, Brandon Svendsen and Philippe Paradis. All three ended long personal goal scoring droughts. Pete Leblanc, another player whose had hard luck recently finding the back of the net, added an empty-netter with 45 seconds to go sending the Milwaukee crowd of 15,888 home unhappy.
Brandon Pirri missed the game with a lower-body injury. Pirri will miss Sunday’s home game versus the Admirals and likely Tuesday’s contest in Oklahoma City against the conference-leading Barons as well. Officially, Pirri is listed as day-to-day.
Ben Smith will undergo surgery next week to repair a labral tear in his right hip and hernia. He will miss the remainder of the season but is expected to make a full recovery in sixteen weeks.
For one night anyhow, the IceHogs didn’t seem to miss Pirri and Smith as others stepped up in their absence. Read more »
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. Read more »
A juicy rebound goal by Rostislav Olesz and a Shawn Lalonde shot that went off Jimmy Hayes’ pant leg and in was all the IceHogs could muster against Matt Climie on Saturday night before the second-biggest crowd of the season in Rockford’s BMO Harris Bank Center.
That wouldn’t be enough as the Wolves scored goals in bunches to defeat Rockford by a final score of 6-2 in front of a sell-out crowd of 6,164.
Carter Hutton was mercifully pulled from his net by IceHogs coach Ted Dent after the Wolves scored three goals in 2:34 midway through the second period. Hutton was able to stop 15 of the 20 shots he saw in 28:23 of action but he didn’t have much chance on a few of those goals.
“I apologized to Hutts because our team wasn’t there in front of him,” Dent noted of speaking to Hutton and explaining the switch between the second and third periods.
Alexander Salak came in to relieve Hutton, one night after his victorious 2-1, 27-save return to action after being sidelined ten weeks with an ankle injury. Salak stopped all 15 shots he faced over 31 minutes in relief of Hutton on Saturday. Salak was pulled for an extra attacker with three and a half minutes to go when Chicago notched its sixth and final goal of the evening into the vacated Rockford net. Read more »
Wednesday night’s 4-3 loss to the visiting Lake Erie Monsters played out like a tale of two teams for this season’s Rockford IceHogs.
After an opening period which saw the IceHogs pepper Lake Erie’s veteran goaltender, and Chicago area product, Gerald Coleman with 17 shots, but not many second chance opportunities, Rockford went into the first intermission with nothing to show for their efforts. The IceHogs then came out flat for the second period and quickly found themselves down 2-0 after some unfortunate turnovers. Despite dominating the first period, Rockford reverted to its October through mid-December form in letting game get away from them on home ice. By the midway point of the third Rockford was in a 4-1 hole. But then, the IceHogs of the month of January suddenly reappeared and put up a challenge. Dylan Olsen unleashed a howitzer of a one-timer to get his team within two goals with less than two minutes to play and a late Lake Erie penalty allowed Rockford to pull within one with 18 seconds to go.
This was the second consecutive game in which Rockford greatly outshot its opponent and lost. Last Friday in Rosemont, the IceHogs out shot the Wolves 32-18, but lost the contest 4-2. They were also down three goals with a minute left in that game.
On Wednesday night, Rockford out shot Lake Erie 17-7 in the first period. None of those chances better than when Rostislav Olesz blew by two defenseman, Cameron Gaunce and Stefan Elliott, then wristed his shot too high over the glove of Coleman, who just got a piece of Olesz’s attempt as well. Read more »
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. Read more »
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?” Read more »
Join us live at 8pm central for our annual New Years resolution and predictions extravaganza. This show should be Super.
We’ll take a look at why the Blackhawks suck against the Oilers, what’s wrong with Dan Carcillo’s brain… how the Blackhawks don’t seem to care about the brains of Marcus Kruger, Brent Seabrook and others… and we’ll preview the week ahead, including the big matchups Thursday in Philly with the Flyers and back at home Sunday with the Red Wings.
Beer, Bacon & Malort
My good friends over at HockeeNight dot com will be hosting some Red Wings fans this Saturday night, January 7th, at Paddy Long’s in Chicago at 1028 W. Diversey. That, of course, is on the eve of the Red Wings-Blackhawks matchup at United Center the next night. Hmm. Beer, bacon and Malort… don’t mind if I do.
–I’ll have another column running in the Committed Indian this Sunday night.
Both players will continue with their junior teams and likely be called to the Rockford IceHogs if those seasons end before Rockford’s does, which at this point looks like it’ll be on April 14th. Read more »
A complete 60-minute effort was all the IceHogs needed to defeat second-place Milwaukee on Saturday night.
Rockford improved their season record to 11-14-1-2 on goals from Pete Leblanc, Brandon Bollig and two from the team’s leading scorer, Brandon Pirri.
Rockford’s power play entered Saturday night’s game having scored just 3 times in its past 40 chances. Against the Milwaukee Admirals, the IceHogs power play scored 3 times on 5 chances Saturday. Two of those goals came off the stick of Brandon Pirri, the other was set up by Pirri.
“I thought our power play really helped us out tonight,” head coach Ted Dent said after a week of working with that unit in practices. “We finally figured that out.”
Pete Leblanc capitalized on an early power play opportunity when he snuck into the low slot and chipped a feed from Brandon Pirri past Milwaukee Admirals starter Jeremy Smith. Ben Smith was in front of the net disturbing Smith’s vision as well on the play, putting the Hogs up 1-0 at 10:35 of the opening period. The assist marked Pirri’s 50th professional helper (49 AHL, 1 NHL)
Two minutes later, after failing to convert on a second power play, Brett McLean was called for roughing, giving Milwaukee its first chance with the man advantage. The Admirals wasted little time converting as defenseman Jonathan Blum whizzed a shot from the left point past Carter Hutton’s glove to tie the game at 1-1. Admirals forward Ryan Thang was in front battling for position with Joe Lavin, and Hutton was late reacting to Blum’s shot. Read more »