Hockey

High On The Hog: Depleted

The Rockford IceHogs have hit the skids over the holidays. Call-ups and injuries have left the piglets a shell of the team that played so well back just a few weeks ago.

From November 2 to December 20, Rockford ran off a 14-5-0-1 stretch that had them in second place in the Central Division. Since then, the IceHogs have dropped six in a row. This is a depleted squad, to say the least.

As the month of December progressed, several key Hogs were recalled to the Blackhawks. Forwards Dylan Sikura, Matthew Highmore and John Quenneville, along with defensemen Dennis Gilbert and Adam Boqvist were big pieces of Rockford’s success.

Alexandre Fortin, Phillipp Kurashev and Anton Wedin are out of the lineup with injuries-and may be out for a while. Defenseman Philip Holm, the most solid performer on the blueline this season, is returning to Europe after requesting to be let out of his NHL contract.

The above circumstances have left the Hogs very thin, quite green…and the losers of six straight.

Rockford brought up AHL contracts Dylan McLaughlin and Matthew Thompson from the ECHL’s Indy Fuel on January 1. They also signed the Fuel’s leading scorer, Spencer Watson, to a PTO on Sunday after Thomson was injured in Friday’s game in Iowa.

Hogs coach Derek King used every healthy player at his disposal against the Chicago Wolves Sunday, employing AHL defenseman Ben Youds as a forward to fill out his lineup card. In the second period of that game, Mikael Hakkarainen, who missed most of the first three months of the season after an opening night injury, left the game. When it rains, it pours.

 

Lankinen Lone All-Star

Hogs goalie Kevin Lankinen was named as Rockford’s only representative in the AHL’s All-Star Classic, to be held in Ontario, California on January 26 and 27.

Lankinen got the news in the midst of a rough patch of play. In his last three starts, Lankinen has surrendered 15 goals. His line for the season so far through 15 appearances: a 7-7-1 record, a 3.17 goals against average and a .905 save percentage.

 

Recaps

Friday, January 3-Iowa 5, Rockford 1

The IceHogs dug themselves a three-goal hole in the first period and never recovered, dropping their fifth-straight contest.

The Wild quickly took command of the game, scoring on a pair of power play opportunities. Gerald Mayhew beat Hogs goalie Kevin Lankinen from the slot 1:29 into the first period. Mayhew stuck in a rebound of a Kyle Rau attempt at the 8:08 mark for a 2-0 Iowa advantage.

Late in the first, Mayhew sent a long shot toward Lankinen. It was redirected by Nico Sturm, creating a 3-0 deficit heading into the first intermission.

Sturm got around the defense early in the second period and slipped a shot under Lankinen’s pads, making it 4-0 at the 2:20 mark. Luke Johnson extended the Wild lead to 5-0 on a 5-on-3 power play goal 52 seconds into the third period.

Rockford got on the scoreboard midway through the final frame. Dylan McLaughlin picked up his first AHL goal, one-timing an offering from Joseph Cramarossa. The power play goal came at the 9:01 mark.

Forward Matthew Thompson left the game midway through the third period and did not return to action. Iowa was three for six on the power play, while the IceHogs converted just one of their six chances.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Mikael Hakkarainen-Reese Johnson-Nick Moutrey

Joseph Cramarossa-Tyler Sikura (C)-Dylan McLaughlin

Brandon Hagel-Jacob Nilsson (A)-MacKenzie Entwistle

Tim Soderlund-Matthew Thompson-Nathan Noel

Philip Holm-Lucas Carlsson

Ian McCoshen (A)-Joni Tuulola

Nicolas Beaudin-Dmitri Osipov

Kevin Lankinen

Collin Delia

 

Sunday, January 5-Chicago 3, Rockford 2

The Wolves picked up their first win of the season against the Hogs in the Illinois Lottery Cup series.

Rockford drew first cord, taking a 1-0 first period lead on a second effort goal by Jacob Nilsson. Nilsson’s initial shot was thwarted by Chicago goalie Oscar Dansk. However, Nilsson recovered the rebound and sent a shot off the back of Dansk and into the Wolves net at the 6:36 mark.

Chicago dominated the second period, taking a 2-1 advantage on goals by Dylan Coghlan and Valentin Zykov. The Wolves lead stretched to 3-1 at 1:56 of the third when Tye McGinn beat the glove of Hogs goalie Collin Delia.

The IceHogs kept plugging away, pressuring Dansk on the way to 15 shots in the final frame. Dylan McLaughlin got a slap shot past Dansk 12:18 into the third. Despite several good looks at the Chicago net, Rockford was unable to complete the comeback.

Mikael Hakkarainen left the game in the second period and did not return to action.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Joseph Cramarossa-Tyler Sikura (C)-Dylan McLaughlin

Brandon Hagel-Jacob Nilsson (A)-MacKenzie Entwistle

Nick Moutrey-Reese Johnson-Spencer Watson

Mikael Hakkarainen-Nathan Noel-Ben Youds

Joni Tuulola-Lucas Carlsson

Ian McCoshen-Dmitri Osipov

Nicolas Beaudin-Chad Krys

Collin Delia

Matt Tomkins

 

Next

Things don’t get easier for the IceHogs, who host Manitoba on Wednesday night before heading to Milwaukee for a pair of games with the division-leading Admirals on Friday and Saturday.

Follow me @JonFromi on twitter for news, updates and thoughts on the IceHogs all season long.

 

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