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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Aug 172015
 

By Chris Block

With just about a month to go before the Blackhawks open NHL training camp in Chicago, players will be accelerating their off season workout regimens in preparation for the season.

Some players who will partake in the rookie tournament in early September will need to be in peak condition sooner.

With that in mind, the Blackhawks, in cooperation with the Djurgarden hockey club in Stockholm, are conducting a conditioning mini-camp this week in Sweden.

It’s an annual summer tradition now for the club, organized by Barry Smith, the Blackhawks Director of Player Development.

Players expected to take part in this week’s mini-camp include: Continue reading »

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May 072015
 

By Chris Block

Going into the Game 1 of the this Western Conference Semifinal series with Grand Rapids, the Rockford IceHogs had one primary focus – try to contain Griffins’ right winger Teemu Pulkkinen.

Rockford failed in that objective in Wednesday’s series opener as the Detroit Red Wings super-prospect struck for 3 goals in a 5-3 win over the visiting IceHogs.

Grand Rapids scored two minutes into the game when Michael Leighton misjudged a weak Kevin Porter backhander. The IceHogs tied the game 8:41 into the second frame when they took advantage of a terrible Griffins turnover in front of their own net and goalie Tom McCollum had no chance on a Mark McNeill one-timer from in tight.

Then the Pulkkinen show took center stage when he stored 3 minutes and 23 seconds apart later in the second to take a 2-goal lead heading into the third. Stephen Johns got the IceHogs back into the game with a snipe at 3:16 of the third period. Then Garret Ross tied the game when he tipped a Johns’ blast with 10:40 left in regulation.

But, the game was decided when the IceHogs allowed Pulkkinen to go the their net unchecked with under 3 minutes to go in a tied affair. Continue reading »

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Mar 112015
 

By Chris Block

A few news items here coming out of Tuesday’s Rockford IceHogs weekly media day huddles.

Alex Broadhurst Targeting Return

Right now, Alex Broadhurst is aiming for March 21st or 22nd as his return from the broken left arm he suffered on Black Wednesday evening back in November. Broadhurst suffered the break to the bone just above his left elbow on a hit from Iowa Wild forward Curt Gogol.

Broadhurst, who turned 22 on March 7th, had a forgettable start to this 2014-15 season. He was healthy scratched 5 times in 20 games and when he did dress, Broadhurst skated a lot of fourth line minutes. In 15 games, the center has 0 goals and 2 assists.

While an injury like that is never welcome, there is some good that came out of it.

Broadhurst on Tuesday said that he’s now in the best physical condition of his life as he’s had nothing to do for the past two months but workout and train for his return. The time away could be good for him in another sense in that his auspicious beginning to the season can be long forgotten now. Continue reading »

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Jan 262015
 

Teravainen_2014Nov21_IceHogs“Turbo” Teuvo Teravainen, photo: Rockford IceHogs

By Chris Block

2015 CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS PROSPECT RANKINGS

Qualifications for this list include being under the age of 26 on the final day of the 2014-15 regular season. This excluded Scott Darling, Brandon Mashinter (each 26 now) and T. J. Brennan from consideration for these rankings.

The other qualifier is the player must have no more than 25 NHL games played in the current season or no more than a total of 40 NHL career games played at the time of these rankings.

These rankings and short bios were first published on January 16th and are as of January 15, 2015. As you’ll read, the extended bios took a little longer to write and at that point I decided to do a writeup on every Blackhawks prospect who would qualify for this list, even those who fell below the top 25. To me, there was no added value in ranking the players 1-40, so I decided against that.

The rankings are formed by a weighted formula that leans heavily to skill, career potential and probability of impact at the NHL level.  To clear any confusion, how close a player is to playing in the NHL, or being there at times now, does not factor in. Continue reading »

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Nov 212014
 

By Chris Block

Playing without four of the team’s top regulars, including their leading scorer (Mark McNeill) and team captain (Joakim Nordstrom), the Rockford IceHogs returned to action Friday night with the AHL West’s last-placed Iowa Wild visiting northern Illinois.

The IceHogs saw their roster stripped of last year’s leading scorer in defenseman Adam Clendening, who made his NHL debut for the Blackhawks in Calgary on Thursday night, notching his first NHL goal in the contest.  Then, after that game, the IceHogs’ parent club recalled center Phillip Danault, who will now also be making his NHL debut in Edmonton on Saturday.

Danault and Clendening joined IceHogs’ captain Joakim Nordstrom, who was recalled by the ‘Hawks last Saturday, the same day McNeill limped off the ice at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee after blocking a shot off his knee.

Yet without four of their best players, the IceHogs found a way to pickup two points against Iowa on Friday.  Ryan Hartman scored twice, and left winger Ryan Schnell posted a ‘Gordie Howe’ hat-trick in Rockford’s 4-3 come-from-behind OT victory over the Wild. Continue reading »

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Oct 102014
 

2014Oct02_MarkMcNeill_IceHogs_Wolves_Preseason

Mark McNeill skates in a preseason game Oct 2nd in Rockford
Photo courtesy of Rockford IceHogs

By Chris Block

Rockford IceHogs open their season tomorrow night when they host Milwaukee at the BMO Harris Bank Center at 7pm.

The Blackhawks have finalized the AHL roster and it was announced today. The IceHogs will carry 24 skaters to start the season, which is allowed in the American Hockey League.

Scott Darling and Michael Leighton, as expected, will be the IceHogs goalie tandem. Mac Carruth should be given a chance to do the heavy lifting in Indianapolis, on the Hawks’ new ECHL affiliate, Indy Fuel. It seems as though the Rockford duo will split the workload evenly for now.

What’s going to be interesting is how Rockford coach Ted Dent handles his defense. Though, that may be dictated to him by the Hawks’ brass. The IceHogs start the season with 8 defensemen – Adam Clendening, Klas Dahlbeck, T.J. Brennan, Ville Pokka, Stephen Johns, Viktor Svedberg, Zach Miskovic and Dillon Fournier.

Politically, I could see Rockford dressing seven defensemen some nights until something gives on that body count.

The forward group will look something like this…. Continue reading »

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Sep 162014
 

The troop of selected Blackhawks prospects and non-roster invitees wrapped up their part of the 2014 London, Ontario Rookie Tournament on Monday.

Led by Teuvo Teravainen, Mark McNeill, Stephen Johns, Viktor Svedberg and others, those ‘Hawks dropped the decision, 5-4 to the Ottawa Senators’ prospects in the shootout round.

You can read Brad V’s full game report from London here.

Sens TV has the highlights….

Also check out highlights from the ‘Hawks other two games…

Saturday’s 4-2 loss to the Maple Leafs

And Sunday’s 5-4 shootout loss to Pittsburgh.

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Sep 162014
 

LondonRookieTournament_2014

By Brad Vandenberk

The last game of this year’s three-game rookie tournament saw the Blackhawks and Senators faceoff. Teuvo Teravainen, Mark McNeill and Kirill Gotovets worked their way back into the lineup, with Cody Caron, Ryan Van Stralen and Justin Holl all out for this one. Mac Carruth was in between the pipes for the Hawks with Chris Driedger on the Ottawa side.

Highly touted Ottawa rookie Curtis Lazar did not dress, nor did Matt Puempel, another top Sens prospect who scored in each of Ottawa’s first two games. Continue reading »

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Mar 252014
 

By Chris Block

MORIN’s OPPORTUNITY

Don’t wait for the IceHogs’ leading goal scorer to be back in Rockford, at least for the time being.

Jeremy Morin was told he is up with the Blackhawks for the remainder of the season.

So, unless there is some major change in direction, don’t expect him to be back in Rockford before then, if ever.

I suppose there is a chance he’d return to Rockford in the event the IceHogs team makes the playoffs and the Blackhawks are healthy enough to the point Morin slides down the depth chart far enough.  But that would also have to mean Teuvo Teravainen would play outstanding enough that the Blackhawks would no longer care about burning a year on Teravainen’s slide-eligible entry level contract – which contrary to what is being insinuated publically, they are not planning to do so at this time.

–In case you missed it last week, Odds and Saads will be a weekly feature here on TheThirdManIn.com.  This is part one of two for this week.

TEUVO TIME

Teuvo Teravainen will make his NHL regular season debut for the Blackhawks when they host the Dallas Stars at the United Center. Continue reading »

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