Hockey

High On The Hog: Blanked

The offensive woes of the Rockford IceHogs were on full display this week. Twice the piglets took to the BMO Harris Bank Center ice. Twice they came away with nothing.

The Blackhawks AHL affiliate was beaten Monday afternoon by Belleville, then dropped a Wednesday night decision to Texas. The IceHogs were shut out in both contests.

The last time a Rockford squad was held scoreless two games in a row came in March 25 and 28 of 2017, when Grand Rapids and Iowa held the Hogs without a goal. That season, a dismal IceHogs team averaged a league-worst 2.30 goals per game.

Over Rockford’s last 15 games, the team is scoring at a 1.53 goals per game clip. The Hogs have been shut out three times and held to a single goal four times during that span.

Wednesday’s loss to the Stars left the IceHogs with a 20-21-1-1 mark, good for sixth place in the AHL’s Central Division. With 42 points and a .488 points percentage, Rockford is still right there in the hunt for a playoff spot. The Hogs are still within reach of the Stars, Chicago and Grand Rapids with 33 games remaining on the schedule. They’ve just picked a poor time to be spinning their tires.

 

Roster News

Dennis Gilbert and Brandon Hagel have been doing the I-90 shuffle this week, taking part in both games for the Hogs between trips to Chicago. Both should be with Rockford through the weekend’s games with Milwaukee.

On Wednesday, Nathan Noel was sent back to the Indy Fuel. Spencer Watson was released from his PTO and returned to the Fuel as well.

 

Tomkins Signs NHL Contract

Matt Tomkins was a hard luck loser against Texas, stopping 30 shots and coming out on the short end of a 1-0 score. On Thursday, it was announced that the goalie had signed a two-year contract with the Blackhawks.

Tomkins, Chicago’s seventh-round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, toiled for the Fuel for most of his first two pro seasons while on an AHL deal with Rockford. He’s been with the IceHogs for the bulk of this season, save for his stint with Team Canada in the Spengler Cup.

Tomkins is currently the team leader in goals against average (2.45) and save percentage (.916), though he has just nine starts on the season. Collin Delia has been playing well of late, shutting out the Wolves Sunday afternoon in his latest start. Kevin Lankinen, who was the Hogs best goalie in the early going and is Rockford’s representative in the AHL All Star Classic, has struggled a bit in the last month.

The three-man net takes on a different perspective with this signing. The Blackhawks now have three NHL prospects at the goalie position in Rockford. It’s hard not to imagine one of those goalies being dealt at the trade deadline to create more development time for the other two. For now, Hogs coach Derek King will have to find time for all three players.

 

Recaps

Monday, January 20-Belleville 3, Rockford 0

Belleville broke open the game in the third period to hand the Hogs the loss.

Josh Norris scored on the power play 3:36 into the second period for a 1-0 Senators advantage. Two goals early in the third period spelled doom for Rockford. Alex Formenton lit the lamp 2:49 into the final frame. Three minutes later, Joseph LaBate got his attempt by IceHogs goalie Kevin Lankinen to close out the scoring.

Rockford was 0-4 on the man advantage. The Hogs got 23 shots on goal, all stopped by Belleville goalie Filip Gustavsson. Lankinen stopped 26 of 29 shots on the afternoon.

Lines (Starters in italics)

John Quenneville-Jacob Nilsson (A)-Brandon Hagel

Dylan Sikura-Tyler Sikura (C)-Gabriel Gagne

Joseph Cramarossa-MacKenzie Entwistle-Alexandre Fortin

Nick Moutrey-Reese Johnson-Peter Quenneville

Joni Tuulola-Lucas Carlsson

Nicolas Beaudin-Ian McCoshen (A)

Chad Krys-Dennis Gilbert

Kevin Lankinen

Collin Delia

 

Wednesday, January 22-Texas 1, Rockford 0 

Rockford was shut out for the second game in a row wasting a terrific performance by goalie Matt Tomkins.

After a scoreless opening period, Texas took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Riley Tufte at 4:25 of the middle frame. The Stars prospect took the biscuit away from Rockford’s Jacob Nilsson, skated to the front of the net and sent a backhand past Tomkins.

That would be the only mark in this contest. Tomkins wound up with 30 saves in a losing effort, but the Stars Landon Bow turned away all 29 shots the Hogs threw at him.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Brandon Hagel-Jacob Nilsson (A)-MacKenzie Entwistle

Dylan Sikura-Tyler Sikura (C)-Gabriel Gagne

Alexandre Fortin-Peter Quenneville-Dylan McLaughlin

Nick Moutrey-Reese Johnson-Joseph Cramarossa

Chad Krys-Dennis Gilbert

Joni Tuulola-Lucas Carlsson

Ian McCoshen (A)-Ben Youds

Matt Tomkins

Collin Delia

 

Admirals Weekend

The IceHogs have a big home-and-home with first-place Milwaukee coming up this weekend. Friday’s tilt is in Milwaukee, with the two teams returning to the BMO on Saturday.

Follow me @JonFromi for thoughts on the IceHogs throughout the season.

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