Ice Hogs

High On The Hog: Martinsen Lays The Norwegian Wood

The Rockford IceHogs, AHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks, were short on the physical element as they prepared to begin the 2017-18 season. Just before the schedule got underway in October, Chicago and Montreal made a swap of forwards. The IceHogs leading point scorer, Kyle Baun, went to the Canadiens organization in exchange for Andreas Martinsen.

This was very much an under the radar transaction, as neither player figures to see NHL action this season. However, in terms of what Martinsen has brought to the IceHogs, I think the Hawks got the better of this trade.

Baun had a pretty decent campaign in 2016-17, finishing with 34 points (14 G, 20 A) to pace a depleted Hogs lineup. While his second pro season was a very productive one, it did help that there was a dearth of prospects on the roster, giving Baun opportunities he would not have this season.

Martinsen brings two things to the table that Baun lacked; NHL experience and a propensity for big hits. While Baun was no shrinking violet, the 6’3″, 220-pound native of Norway is a much more physical player.

With 119 games of NHL experience with Colorado and Montreal, the 27-year old Martinsen adds the facet of leadership to a youthful roster. He and Tyler Sikura have anchored what has been a very productive forward line at both ends of the ice.

Both Martinsen (9 G, 13 A) and Sikura (15 G, 7 A) are tied for third among active Hogs skaters with 22 points. Whether teamed with Alexandre Fortin or another Rockford forward, the pair have been tough forecheckers and have been a big reason the IceHogs have been an effective team at even strength.

Baun currently has 15 points (3 G, 12 A) for Laval in 49 games. He works hard and is a pretty heady player, though I have long questioned Baun’s chances to be a contributor at the NHL level. Regardless, I feel like Martinsen is a better fit for the current IceHogs roster.

 

Samuelsson Inked To PTO

Sunday night, the IceHogs announced that they had signed forward Henrik Samuelsson, son of Hawks assistant coach Ulf Samuelsson, to a Professional Tryout contract. This move comes with Rockford being a little light in the forward ranks of late.

William Pelletier was a scratch in both games this weekend. No word from the team, but I would guess he could be missing some time due to injury. Nathan Noel has not played since being recalled, so I would hazard a guess that he isn’t ready to take the ice.

Luke Johnson may also be among a bevy of injured piglets. He took a big hit in the third period of Friday’s loss to Milwaukee and slowly made his way to the bench. Johnson returned to action a few minutes later, but was a scratch in Iowa Saturday and could also be dinged up.

At this point, defenseman Robin Norell has been a fixture at forward the last few weeks. Even with AHL-signing Alex Wideman on the roster from Indy, the IceHogs had just 13 forwards. With Pelletier, Noel and possibly Johnson unavailable, Rockford is in need of bodies up front.

As far as bodies go, Samuelsson should do just fine. A former first-round draft pick by Arizona in 2012, he had a 40-point season (18 G, 22 A) with AHL Portland in 2014-15. This season, Samuelsson has been with Idaho of the ECHL, where he had 16 goals and 27 helpers for the Steelheads in 49 games.

At 6’3″ and 210 pounds, the 24-year-old Samuelsson could help out in the corners for the IceHogs and has a pretty decent offensive arsenal. I’d guess we’ll see him in action this week.

In other roster moves, Rockford sent Matt Tomkins back to the Indy Fuel Thursday after J.F. Berube returned to active duty. Friday, defenseman Carl Dahlstrom was recalled to the Blackhawks, where he skated in the Hawks 3-0 loss to Minnesota.

 

Recaps

The IceHogs dropped two of three games this week, including one to Milwaukee. The Ads have won four straight and have leapfrogged Rockford in the division standings. Coupled with a streaking Grand Rapids club that has won seven of its last ten, Rockford is in sixth place in the Central Division.

Wednesday, February 7-Rockford 3, San Antonio 1

The Rampage have had Rockford’s number in three previous meetings. The Hogs came out on top in the final meeting between the two teams this season with a pair of goals in the third period.

Rockford had several scoring chances in the opening frame but didn’t get on the board until late in the period. Matthew Highmore redirected a Viktor Svedberg blast past Rampage goalie Spencer Martin for a 1-0 Hogs advantage at 18:56 of the first.

Felix Girard tied things up 8:01 into the second period, coming from behind the net and finishing a successful wraparound attempt. Through 40 minutes, Hogs goalie Colin Delia had stopped 24 of 25 shots to keep Rockford even. From there, the IceHogs power play proved to be the difference.

Working with the final seconds of a Shawn Ouellette-St. Amant interference infraction incurred late in the previous period, Rockford got the game-winner with Highmore’s second goal of the evening. The play was set up with a pass from Tanner Kero to Highmore at the goal line. The rookie forward maneuvered to the front of Martin’s cage and deposited a backhand shot into the piggy bank 22 seconds into the third.

The man advantage also provided insurance later in the period when San Antonio was called for delay of game in the eighth minute of action. Adam Clendening one-timed an Anthony Louis feed toward the net. Andreas Martinsen had Martin screened but good. The Rampage goalie never had a chance and Clendening’s goal made it 3-1 Rockford at the 8:06 mark.

The three stars proved to be an all-Rockford edition; Highmore, Delia (33 saves) and Clendening.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Anthony Louis-Tanner Kero-William Pelletier

Matthew Highmore-Luke Johnson-John Hayden

Andreas Martinsen (A)-Tyler Sikura-Alexandre Fortin

Matheson Iacopelli-Graham Knott-Robin Norell

Luc Snuggerud-Carl Dahlstrom

Cody Franson (A)-Viktor Svedberg (A)

Adam Clendening-Gustav Forsling

Colin Delia

Scratches-Nathan Noel, Darren Raddysh, Ville Pokka, J.F. Berube

Power Play (2-5)

Highmore-Kero-Johnson-Forsling-Dahlstrom

Martinsen-Hayden-Louis-Clendening-Franson

Penalty Kill (San Antonio was 0-4)

Kero-Sikura-Franson-Svedberg

Johnson-Martinsen-Dalstrom-Snuggerud

Pelletier-Hayden-Franson-Svedberg

 

Friday, February 9-Milwaukee 5, Rockford 3

The IceHogs earased one-goal deficits twice before Milwaukee prevailed in what was a tough home loss to a division rival.

Jimmy Oligny got the scoring started for the Ads with his goal at 11:34 of the opening frame. Rockford answered a few minutes later on the power play. Anthony Louis made a cross-ice pass that Cody Franson handled at the right dot before snapping off a lamp-lighter past Milwaukee goalie Anders Lindback. This tied the game at a goal apiece at the 14:29 mark.

The Admirals gained a man advantage late in the first on a Viktor Svedberg tripping penalty. They wasted little time in regaining the lead. After winning the resulting faceoff, Frederick Gaudreau scored from the left circle to make it 2-1 Milwaukee headed into the locker room.

Rockford out shot the Ads 16-6 in the second and drew even again in the fifteenth minute. Darren Raddysh did the honors, aided in part to a nice screen in front of the net by Tyler Sikura. Raddysh’s wrister zipped through the legs of Sikura and past Lindback at 14:18, capping off a nice shift in the Milwaukee zone and knotting the game at two.

At that point, Admirals forward Justin Kirkland, who had all of one goal for the season at that point, finished off the Hogs. His nifty move across the crease after receiving a Yakov Trenin feed got Hogs goalie Collin Delia on the ice. His backhand caught cord for a 3-2 Milwaukee lead 2:42 into the third period.

Kirkland added to the lead ten minutes later, when Delia mishandled Trenin’s shot to his glove side. The puck lay unattended momentarily at the right post. Kirkland knocked it in for a 4-2 Admirals advantage at 12:33.

Rockford closed to within a goal at the 14:24 mark when John Hayden received a pass from Sikura and skated out to the top of the right circle. Utilizing another Sikura screen, Hayden beat Lindback to the twine. The IceHogs trailed 4-3.

That was as close as Rockford got, though. With Delia on the bench for an extra skater, Kirkland completed his hat trick with an empty-net goal from just inside his blueline at 18:31.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Matthew Highmore-Luke Johnson-John Hayden

Alex Wideman-Tanner Kero-Anthony Louis

Andreas Martinsen (A)-Tyler Sikura-Alexandre Fortin

Matheson Iacopelli-Graham Knott-Robin Norell

Adam Clendening-Ville Pokka

Viktor Svedberg-Cody Franson

Gustav Forsling-Darren Raddysh

Collin Delia

Scratches-Luc Snuggerud, William Pelletier, Nathan Noel

Power Play (1-4)

Martinsen-Louis-Hayden-Franson-Clendening

Kero-Highmore-Johnson-Sikura-Forsling

Penalty Kill (Milwaukee was 1-2)

Johnson-Kero-Franson-Svedberg

Hayden-Knott-Forsling-Raddysh

Martinsen-Sikura-Svedberg-Clendening

 

Saturday, February 10-Iowa 2, Rockford 1

Jean-Francois Berube was back in goal for the first time in two months after recovering from a left leg injury. A 27-save effort was a solid return but not enough to get Rockford past the Wild at Wells Fargo Arena.

The first period saw the Hogs and Wild trade deflection goals. Kurtis Gabriel re-directed a Brennen Mennell shot past Berube 5:55 into the contest. Moments later, Tyler Sikura changed the trajectory of a Ville Pokka shot from the right point, knotting the game 1-1 at the 7:41 mark.

As both Berube and Iowa goalie Niklas Svedberg were quite stingy from that point on, the score remained 1-1 until the third period. Iowa potted a power play goal on a Justin Kloos one-timer from the right dot at the 7:31 mark.

The IceHogs had some strong chances to tie both before and after pulling Berube for an extra attacker, but it was not to be. Rockford dropped its second-straight and lost just a little more ground to a division rival.

Lines (Starters in italics-Rockford used 7 defensemen and just 11 forwards)

Matthew Highmore-Tanner Kero (A)-Anthony Louis

Andreas Martinsen-Tyler Sikura-Robin Norell

Matheson Iacopelli-Graham Knott-Alex Wideman

Alexandre Fortin-John Hayden

Viktor Svedberg-Cody Franson

Adam Clendening-Ville Pokka (A)

Gustav Forsling-Darren Raddysh

Luc Snuggerud

Jean-Francois Berube

Scratches-William Pelletier, Nathan Noel, Luke Johnson

Power Play (0-2)

Highmore-Kero-Louis-Clendening-Franson

Martinsen-Sikura-Hayden-Raddysh-Forsling

Penalty Kill (Iowa was 1-5)

Kero-Hayden-Franson-Svedberg

Martinsen-Sikura-Pokka-Clendening

Fortin-Knott-Raddysh-Forsling

 

This Week

The Hogs are at home for all three games this week. This is the last real home stand of the season for Rockford; only seven of the IceHogs last 22 games following this week’s games will be at the BMO.

The Cleveland Monsters visit Rockford Tuesday, play in Chicago Thursday, then return to the BMO for a Saturday tilt. Both teams have won three of the six meetings this season. Each has won and lost a shootout. The Monsters have dropped seven of their last ten but did break a three-game losing streak Sunday with an overtime win over Manitoba.

Sunday afternoon, San Antonio returns to the BMO for the last time this season. Rockford won the last meeting this past Wednesday night.

Points are vital to Rockford right now, as every divisional loss extends the gap between them and the pack of teams in the playoff hunt. Getting Berube back is a step in the right direction, though losing regulars like Pelletier and Johnson will make things a bit tougher.

Follow me @JonFromi on twitter for thoughts on the Rockford scene all season long.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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