The Rockford IceHogs have a chance to run the table on the current home stand Friday night. The Blackhawks AHL affiliate play Manitoba for the first time this season. The piglets have won four straight home games heading into the game with the Moose, most recently a 3-1 win over Toronto Wednesday morning.
Rockford trailed briefly in the second period after Matt Read goal eight seconds in. However, Reese Johnson tied the score 24 seconds later, assisted by Nick Moutrey and MacKenzie Entwistle. Phillipp Kurashev drew cord on the power play at the 8:06 mark for a 2-1 Hogs advantage.
That was all Kevin Lankinen needed, making 19 saves to post the win over the Marlies. Brandon Hagel got an empty-netter in the final minute of action to seal the deal for Rockford, who improved to 6-5 this season. The IceHogs are now in fifth place in the Central Division with a .545 points percentage.
Friday vs Manitoba
Manitoba is at the bottom of the division standings heading into Friday’s action. The Moose are led by Griffin Shaw, who has a team-high six goals on the season. Griffin and Jansen Harkins (3 G, 9 A) pace Manitoba with 12 points each.
Former IceHogs defenseman Cameron Schilling (4 G, 3 A) is coming off two strong seasons for the Moose. Sami Niku (3 G, 3 A) is an offensive spark plug from the blueline. In net, expect Rockford to be staring down Mikail Berdin, who has started nine of Manitoba’s eleven games. After a strong rookie year, Berdin (3.62 GAA, .885 save percentage) has struggled out of the gate for the Moose.
Sunday at Chicago
Rockford is 3-0 against the Wolves this season. Chicago, who just beat Iowa 3-0 Thursday morning, is in fourth place in the Central Division. Back on Sunday, the Hogs rallied from three goals down to beat the Wolves 7-4 at the BMO Harris Bank Center.
Rookie Lucas Elvenes (5 G, 14 A) has two goals and three helpers against Rockford this season. He is currently tied with Grand Rapids Chris Terry for the AHL scoring lead. Gage Quinney (6 G, 6 A) is also a potent scorer for Chicago. Veterans Tye McGinn (4 G, 5 A) and Curtis McKenzie (3 G, 5 A) are also chipping into the Wolves offensive effort.
Garret Sparks (1.55, .954) shut out the Wild Thursday. The IceHogs lit up Oscar Dansk (4.08, .847) Sunday, including five third-period goals.
The Blackhawks re-assigned D Dennis Gilbert to Rockford Wednesday. To keep the roster at seven defensemen, the IceHogs sent D Jack Ramsey to the Indy Fuel Thursday.
Rockford is still awaiting the return of captain Kris Versteeg, John Quenneville and Mikael Hakkarainen to the lineup.
- Reese Johnson has goals in his last two games. Philip Holm is on a four-game point streak.
- The offense has picked it up during the win streak. Rockford is now averaging 2.82 goals a game, tied with Manitoba for 21st in the AHL.
- The IceHogs lead the league in shorthanded goals with three. The power play is still at an anemic 8.8 percent for the season, but Rockford has four goals in their last 20 man advantages.
Follow me @JonFromi for intermission updates on Friday night and thoughts on the IceHogs throughout the season.