Dec 072012
 

By Chris Block

Looking to build on recent winning ways and retain their first place standing in the Midwest Division, the Rockford IceHogs played host to division rival Milwaukee Admirals, winners of three of its last four games.  Milwaukee also entered Friday’s contest riding a five-game point streak (3-0-2-0) as they recently have welcomed Ryan Ellis, Gabriel Bourque and Taylor Beck back into their lineup.

The IceHogs rose atop their division in winning 7 of its last 9 games, going from two games under .500 on Nov 16 to three games above .500 and in first place on Dec 2nd.

Friday also was the first of five meetings between the two clubs this month.  Milwaukee came into Rockford on Nov 10 and skated away with a 4-2 victory.  That night, the first of 12 times these two clubs will face off this regular season, Alec Richards was between the pipes for Rockford.

On Friday, Carter Hutton, the starter in the IceHogs last three games, all wins in which Hutton allowed a total of five goals, was back to face a Milwaukee team he went 8-1 versus last season.

Hutton was strong early Friday night but struggled to bail his teammates out when miscues and mental lapses plagued Rockford during a three-goal Milwaukee 2nd period. Continue reading »

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Dec 032012
 

By Chris Block

Sam Fels, lead Blackhawks maven at TheCommittedIndian.com was kind enough to join me Monday night for the jam-packed return edition of PuckChatter~Radio.

In great detail, we recapped the Rockford IceHogs at the 28.9% mark of the AHL season as well as listen to some conversations we’ve had with a few IceHogs over the past few weeks.  There is a lot going on these days out in Rockford with the suddenly first-place IceHogs and we covered most of it.

We also touch on Tuesday’s much overhyped meeting between six NHL owners and as many NHL players – Is it more posturing and sideways negotiating by the Gary Bettman and the owners in attempt to undermine Don Fehr and divide the players, or is the league finally ready to work towards getting a deal done?  We discuss.  Also, Phillip Danault and Mark McNeill were named to the Canadian U20 World Championships selection camp roster on Monday.  How do they fit and what are their chances of making Team Canada?

All this and more on this edition of Puck Chatter.

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Among the items broached on the show….

-A hockey magazine editor’s troubles with the English language
Ted Dent talks about inconsistent play & Martin St. Pierre’s start
-Carter Hutton back on his game
-Is Nick Leddy not dominating the AHL a real problem?
-Kyle Beach’s newest move – the turtle and spear
Jimmy Hayes talks about his transition from wing to center
-Perhaps how the Hayes-to-Center decision came about
-Surprising facts & truth on how the “experiment” is working out
-What the Hayes move says about Hawks true depth at center
-Adam Clendening’s mustache
Jeremy Morin talks finding his scoring touch & a full off season
-Chris Block says weird things & asks odd questions
Nick Leddy talks about his move to Left Defense & the CBA
-Stan Bowman’s ‘guys’ and where they stand
-Is Kyle Beach a power forward
-Couple of IceHogs approaching Franchise marks
-Blackhawks Board of Governors representatives
-Gary Bettman attempting to pitch a no-hitter
-IceHogs MVP
-A funny story about travels to the BMO Harris Bank Center 57:20
-And much, much more

Full TTMI/PuckChatter~Radio Archive – Show feed
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ChrisBlock@TheThirdManIn.com
PuckChatter@gmail.com
Twitter.com/ChrisBlock

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Dec 022012
 

By Chris Block

PuckChatter~Radio returns Live on Monday December 3rd at 8pm central. Sam Fels of the TheCommittedIndian.com will join me to discuss all the hockey there is to talk about as well as the latest in the ongoing NHL CBA labor negotiation saga which may very well come to a head on Tuesday.

We’ll recap all the latest goings on with the first-place Rockford IceHogs, who have won 7 of their last 9 games to vault themselves from two games below the .500 mark to 1st in the Midwest Division.

We’ll discuss the ongoing experiment that has seen Jimmy Hayes move off the wing to the center ice position. Also, we’ll review several IceHogs at the 1/4 mark of the AHL season including the up and down play of Nick Leddy, Andrew Shaw and Dylan Olsen.  Is Kyle Beach finally coming around? Does Jeremy Morin fit in on the Hawks if the CBA mess is resolved soon? How good are rookies Brandon Saad and Adam Clendening?

All this and more — You can listen live on Monday night or in the archives either here  on the web site, on Itunes or over at BlogTalkRadio.

ChrisBlock@TheThirdManIn.com
PuckChatter@gmail.com
Twitter.com/ChrisBlock

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Dec 012012
 

By Chris Block

Rockford continued its recent road winning ways with a 5-2 come from behind win before a crowd of 6,549 in Charlotte on Saturday night.  The IceHogs handed the Charlotte Checkers, the second-place team in the Western Conference, their 6th loss of the season though it was Charlotte’s 4th in 7 games in its home rink.

With the team’s hottest goal scorer, Andrew Shaw, out of the lineup serving a one game, and most recent, suspension Rockford looked to its big guns to pull them out of another big whole the team dug itself early on Saturday night.

The IceHogs got unanswered goals from Brandon Saad, Ben Smith, Jeremy Morin and two from captain Martin St. Pierre.  The captain, recognized as one of the slickest set-up men in the AHL, also fell an assist shy of registering the Gordie Howe Hat Trick on Saturday.

Rockford has now strung four consecutive road wins together after starting the season 1-4-0-1 on opposing ice surfaces.

And, for the first time this season, the IceHogs sit two games above the .500 mark at 11-9-0-1 with their win in Charlotte. Continue reading »

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Nov 302012
 

By Chris Block

On Friday, the American Hockey League suspended Rockford IceHogs winger Andrew Shaw for 1 game in response to a boarding infraction Shaw committed in Wednesday night’s game against the Chicago Wolves.

Shaw was called for boarding by official Trent Knorr at the 15:45 mark of the second period when Shaw left his feet while finishing a check on Chicago forward Brett Sterling deep in the Wolves’ zone.

Shaw’s point of contact on Sterling appeared to be a shoulder or arm directly to the side of Sterling’s head.  Sterling went down and was shaken up for a few moments but stayed in the game.  Play continued on while the Wolves maintained possession of the puck.

During the delayed penalty call, Andrew Shaw retreated to the Rockford IceHogs’ bench where he walked behind the bench where the coaches stand, where he picked up a folding chair.  Shaw appeared to be contemplating throwing the chair onto to the ice when he was stopped by one of the team trainers. Continue reading »

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Nov 212012
 

By Chris Block

Rockford emerged victorious in another see-saw affair with division rival Peoria on Wednesday night.

The IceHogs got out to a two goal lead as Adam Clendening scored in the first minute of the game and Brandon Saad notched a short-handed goal later in the period.  But the IceHogs then allowed three unanswered first period goals and trailed 3-2 after the opening frame.  Rockford responded, scoring three unanswered goals of their own in route to an eventual 5-4 win.

Jeremy Morin was the biggest factor in the comeback, scoring power play tallies in the second and third period.  Martin St. Pierre had the other Rockford goal.

“That was a big win for us,” said Morin, the game’s number one star, after the game.

“We needed it.  It was good to get the power play going.  We need to start producing [on the power play] and not taking so many penalties.  That is going to be huge for us.” Continue reading »

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Nov 192012
 

By Chris Block

On Monday, the AHL announced its decision to suspend Rockford IceHogs third-year defenseman Shawn Lalonde 3 games for his actions in last Friday (Nov 16) night’s game against the Houston Aeros in Rockford.

Lalonde’s suspension is result of an illegal check to the head on Aeros’ defenseman Steven Kampfer.  The incident took place at 9:40 of the second period in Friday night’s game while the Aeros were on the power play.

There was no penalty called on the play by either of the two referees, Joe Sullivan and Jean Hebert.

The hit temporarily knocked Kampfer unconscious and Kampfer was eventually stretchered off the ice and taken to a Rockford hospital where he was evaluated and released the next day. Continue reading »

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Nov 182012
 

By Chris Block

A fluke Adam Clendening skate blowout and another case of mindless minor penalties made all the difference on Sunday night as the Rockford IceHogs suffered their 8th regulation loss in 15 games (6-8-0-1), falling to the Houston Aeros 3-2.

On the positive side, the IceHogs’ power play snapped out of its 0 for 15 funk in going 2 for 4 on the night.  Ben Smith and Adam Clendening, making up for his ill-timed clumsiness less than a minute earlier, tallied Rockford’s goals with the man advantage.

The game was played before a crowd of 11,175 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.  Houston is the American Hockey League affiliate of the Minnesota Wild.  Sunday served as a home game for the Aeros.

Carter Hutton was good, stopping 18 of the 21 shots he faced, but he almost had no chance to stop Johan Larsson’s goal after Clendening blew a tire out next to Hutton’s net and left a puck out in the low slot for Larsson to bang home, giving Houston the decisive 3-1 advantage with 9:59 remaining in the third period. Continue reading »

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Nov 152012
 

By Chris Block

Rockford let a good opportunity to get back to the .500 mark slip away on Wednesday night when they hosted Peoria, the team that had scored the fewest goals coming in as well as owning the worst record in the AHL.

The IceHogs received goals from Martin St. Pierre, Pete Leblanc, Brandon Saad and Jeremy Morin but four were not enough and Peoria stunned a sparse crowd of 2,205 at the BMO Harris Bank Center in defeating Rockford 5-4.

Wednesday’s game started out promising enough.

Although the IceHogs penalty woes surfaced early when Brandon Bollig added to Rockford’s league-leading total when he was sent to the box for tripping Evgeny Grachev inside the Peoria zone three minutes into Wednesday night’s contest, the IceHogs still managed to strike while short-handed. Continue reading »

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Nov 142012
 

By Chris Block

Each week from now until the end of the season we will bring you a first-hand account of the latest news, developments and analysis of this season’s Rockford IceHogs, the Chicago Blackhawks’ American Hockey League affiliate.

Conflict of Interests?

“Well, we’re 1-3.  So, that’s my assessment.”

That was IceHogs coach Ted Dent this past Saturday night after a 4-2 loss at home when asked to give his assessment of Jimmy Hayes’ performance in the four games after the decision was made to move Hayes from his regular spot at right wing, over to the center ice position.

Eight games into the season, the edict came down from Chicago Blackhawks management that they wanted to see how Hayes would do at center.

Little forward thinking went into this decision either, apparently.  Blackhawks Director of Player Development Barry Smith was quickly dispatched to Rockford to go over film and one-on-one instruction over three days with Hayes, who admittedly hadn’t played the center position since he was a kid.

Not during training camp.  Not over the summer when Hayes was a part of a group of 12 top Blackhawks prospects who traveled to Sweden for a five-day August mini-camp.  No, during the last week of October was when the IceHogs coach received word he was to play Hayes at center until further notice.

“No, I haven’t played there in a long time,” Jimmy Hayes said last week. Continue reading »

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