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High On The Hog: Earning It

The Rockford IceHogs earned five of a possible six points in a three-in-three weekend. Trust me, the piglets did earn what they got in this three-game stretch.

With offense in short supply, the Hogs turned to what has become one of the AHL’s most effective goalie tandems. Collin Delia picked up an overtime win in Grand Rapids Friday, then held the Griffins to a single goal in a Hogs victory Sunday. Anton Forsberg made 49 saves to pick up a point against Texas Saturday night, though Rockford would lose that game in Gus Macker Time.

Some time today, one of these goalies will be recalled to Chicago following Corey Crawford’s injury against San Jose last night. Both have played well and merit a shot with the Blackhawks.

Delia, in particular, has put up numbers that beg for that opportunity. The second-year pro sports a 2.34 goals against average and a .933 save percentage. He’s third in the AHL among qualified goalies in the former category and first in the latter. Sunday’s effort was an impressive audition; no way the Hogs prevail 2-1 against Grand Rapids if not for the 24-year old Delia.

The argument can be made that Delia would be better off continuing to develop in Rockford and bring up Forsberg, who spent most of last season in Chicago and has also been excellent in all but one of his nine appearances. Both Forsberg and Delia have earned a call up. The other will form a new tandem with Kevin Lankinen, who should be up from the Indy Fuel in either case.

In other roster moves, Rockford welcomed Hawks defenseman Jan Rutta after he cleared waivers Friday. He played his first game Saturday night at the BMO Harris Bank Center as well as Sunday’s contest.

Josh McArdle, who played in Grand Rapids Friday night, was sent to the Fuel on Saturday. The IceHogs also released Hunter Fejes from his PTO Saturday. Fejes skated in nine games for Rockford.

 

Carlsson Steps Up

With Carl Dahlstrom currently up with the Blackhawks, rookie defenseman Lucas Carlsson has taken advantage of some increased ice time. Carlsson, a 21-year-old from Galve, Seweden, was used by Hogs coach Derek King on the power play this weekend.

Carlsson had key goals in both home games. He showed solid offensive instincts Saturday in pinching in and maneuvering into scoring position to find the back of the net. Sunday, he factored into both Rockford goals and was named the game’s First Star.

For the season, Carlsson now has 13 points (4 G, 9 A). That puts him in a tie with Viktor Ejdsell for fourth among current IceHogs.

 

Recaps

Friday, December 14-Rockford 3, Grand Rapids 2 (OT)

Luke Johnson got the Hogs on the board first 3:03 into the opening period. Johnson took the puck out of the defensive zone and found Jordan Schroeder coming across the Griffins blueline. Schroeder pulled up and sent a centering pass to the slot, where Johnson had skated following his pass. The redirect got past Grand Rapids goalie Patrik Rybar for a 1-0 Rockford lead.

The power play added to the IceHogs advantage after Derek Hulak was called for slashing later in the first. Viktor Ejdsell took a short pass from Darren Raddysh at the top of the Griffins zone, skated to the slot and found Jacob Nilsson waiting at the right dot. Nilsson’s shot caught the far side of the net and put Rockford up 2-0 at the 13:48 mark.

The second period was not as kind to the IceHogs. Chris Terry scored on the power play for Grand Rapids to cut the lead to 2-1 midway through the frame. A late Rockford power play resulted in a shorthanded goal by Turner Elson with six seconds left. At the second intermission, the Hogs and Griffins were even at two goals.

The score remained 2-2 through regulation. In Gus Macker Time, the IceHogs gained a power play opportunity when Joe Hicketts was nabbed for slashing. Johnson, after having a shot turned away by Rybar a few seconds earlier, got the puck back from Raddysh in the slot. Johnson waited for a lane to open up and sent a wrister over the Griffins goalie to win it for the Rockford.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Alexandre Fortin-Jordan Schroeder (A)-Luke Johnson

Viktor Ejdsell-Jacob Nilsson-Anthony Louis

Tyler Sikura (A)-Nathan Noel-Nick Moutrey

Matheson Iacopelli-Terry Broadhurst-Henrik Samuelsson

Darren Raddysh-Joni Tuulola

Josh McArdle-Andrew Campbell (A)

Blake Hillman-Lucas Carlsson

Collin Delia

Power Play (2-4)

Fortin-Johnson-Schroeder-Samuelsson-Carlsson

Louis-Ejdsell-Sikura-Nilsson-Raddysh

Penalty Kill (Grand Rapids was 1-3)

Johnson-Nilsson-Campbell-Carlsson

Fortin-Noel-Hillman-Tuulola

Moutrey-Sikura-Raddysh-McArdle

 

Saturday, December 15-Texas 3, Rockford 2 (OT)

The IceHogs kept the vaunted Stars offense at bay for most of regulation. Anton Forsberg stopped 49 of 52 shots but Texas prevailed in Gus Macker Time.

The Stars got on the board with a power play tally by Eric Condra early in the second period. Rockford was ineffective offensively for the bulk of the evening. In the closing seconds of the middle frame, however, the Hogs managed to tie the score.

With a man advantage due to a Colton Hargrove slash, Anthony Louis got a shot on net that glanced off of Stars goalie Phillipe Desrosiers and briefly settled in front of the crease. Jordan Schroeder was on hand to knock it off the right post, then again into the Texas net with just over three seconds remaining in the period.

The IceHogs gained a 2-1 advantage on a wonderful pinch by Lucas Carlsson 8:04 into period three. Carlsson slipped into the slot to nab a rebound of a Luke Johnson attempt. He stick-handled into an open shooting lane and went high past Desrosiers to cap the scoring play.

The lead was short-lived. Joel L’Esperance dug a puck out of the corner of the Rockford zone and made a strong power move to the front of the net. His shot got by Forsberg, just catching the right post and banking into the Hogs net at 11:11 for the equalizer.

Texas ended the contest 2:52 into the extra session with a goal by Adam Macherin. This put an end to Rockford’s hope to establish a win steak.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Alexandre Fortin-Jordan Schroeder (A)-Luke Johnson

Viktor Ejdsell-Jacob Nilsson-Anthony Louis

Tyler Sikura (A)-Nathan Noel-Nick Moutrey

Matheson Iacopelli-Terry Broadhurst-Henrik Samuelsson

Lucas Carlsson-Jan Rutta

Dennis Gilbert-Andrew Campbell

Blake Hillman-Darren Raddysh

Anton Forsberg

Power Play (1-5)

Fortin-Johnson-Schroeder-Rutta-Carlsson

Louis-Ejdsell-Sikura-Nilsson-Raddysh

Penalty Kill (Stars were 1-4)

Johnson-Nilsson-Campbell-Carlsson

Fortin-Noel-Hillman-Gilbert

Moutrey-Sikura-Raddysh-Rutta

 

Sunday, December 16-Rockford 2, Grand Rapids 1

Collin Delia held off the Griffins until Rockford potted a pair of opportunistic goals in the third period. Delia stopped 37 shots, 30 of which came at him in the first 40 minutes.

The Hogs got all the offense they would require in the final frame, starting with a Lucas Carlsson goal a bit past the midway point of the period. Luke Johnson set up Viktor Ejdsell for a one-timer in the slot with Rockford on a power play. The shot was stopped by the pads of Griffins goalie Patrik Rybar; Alexandre Fortin got a stick on the rebound and slid it to Carlsson near the bottom of the right circle. Rubber met twine at 11:31 of the third to give the IceHogs a 1-0 lead.

Another rebound was the catalyst for the second Rockford mark. This time, it was a Carlsson shot that settled at the right post for Jordan Schroeder to knock in at 16:03.

Delia’s shutout bid was foiled by a Chris Terry goal with eight seconds to play. The Hogs still finished the weekend on a winning note, beating the Griffins for the second time in three days.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Viktor Ejdsell-Jacob Nilsson-Anthony Louis

Jordan Schoeder-Luke Johnson-Alexandre Fortin

Nick Moutrey-Graham Knott-Nathan Noel

Terry Broadhurst-Tyler Sikura-Henrik Samuelsson

Dennis Gilbert-Andrew Campbell

Lucas Carlsson-Jan Rutta

Joni Tuulola-Darren Raddysh

Collin Delia

Power Play (1-3)

Nilsson-Sikura-Louis-Ejdsell-Raddysh

Johnson-Fortin-Schroeder-Carlsson-Rutta

Penalty Kill (Griffins were 0-4)

Johnson-Nilsson-Campbell-Carlsson

Fortin-Noel-Tuulola-Gilbert

Moutrey-Sikura-Raddysh-Rutta

 

This Week

Rockford (13-10-2-4) is still in sixth place in the Central Division standings with a .552 points percentage. The Hogs welcome Milwaukee to the BMO Wednesday night before visiting Chicago on Friday.

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

 

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