Hockey

High On The Hog: Pancaked In Cleveland

The Rockford IceHogs, AHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks. had themselves a rough stretch in Cleveland. After winning their first two games of the season last weekend, Rockford went into Ohio and got knocked around by the Monsters.

The IceHogs took back-to-back lickings, falling 7-1 Friday night before being shut out 5-0 the following afternoon. Rockford fell to 2-5 in 2019-20. With four standings points and a .286 points percentage, the Hogs sit in seventh place in the Central Division heading into a five-game home stand that gets underway Wednesday night.

Rockford’s lone goal came in the first period Friday night, as Tyler Sikura drew even with Dylan Sikura for the team lead with his third goal of the season. From there, it was all Monsters. Up 1-0, the IceHogs gave up 12 unanswered goals the remainder of the weekend’s action.

Cleveland was able to maneuver around the Hogs defense for point-blank attempts in both contests. The Monsters fired 43 shots at Matt Tomkins Saturday. Neither Tomkins or Collin Delia could do enough to stop the deluge of scoring opportunities.

So far this year, the piglets have been flat out bad in all areas of the game. Through this weekend, Rockford is giving up 3.71 goals per contest, ranking them 25th in the AHL. Offensively, the Hogs are in a familiar place-namely, the nether regions of the league.

Only winless San Diego (1.67) score less frequently than Rockford, who average 1.71 goals per game. The power play has been on the ice 28 times and has yet to score. The penalty kill unit has surrendered eight goals in 28 chances. That 71.4 percent is second-worst in the AHL.

To summarize, the Hogs can’t score, allow tons of juicy scoring chances and are stinking up the joint on special teams. A recent spanking at the hands of an experienced Monsters team makes it easy to take a negative point of view. However, Rockford is running pretty low on sunshine and rainbows at the moment.

 

Musings

  • Kris Versteeg and John Quenneville both sat out the weekend with injuries. Kevin Lankinen practiced last week but did not make the trip to Cleveland. Rookie Mikael Hakkarainen also remained out.
  • With Versteeg missing his second and third straight games, Nick Moutrey was the closest thing to veteran presence in the Hogs lineup. The leadership group is comprised of second and third-year players. This contrasted mightily with Cleveland, who got production from Nathan Gerbe and Zac Dalpe. Both have been key veterans for the Monsters.
  • Perhaps Versteeg will be able to get back into action this week. Regardless, he’s not going to be able to carry the offensive load all by himself.
  • Reese Johnson was the first Hogs skater to engage in fisticuffs this season, dropping the gloves in a brief bout with Cleveland’s Justin Scott early in the second period Friday with Rockford down 4-1.
  • There was a extended fracas at the end of that game and some very chippy play Saturday afternoon. The Monsters pulled the piglets into a style Rockford is not set up to play. It showed up on the scoreboard, big time.
  • This has been the case for the two previous seasons, but this young Rockford club is even less equipped to handle bigger, more physical foes. If the Hogs continue to try and play to the strengths of their opponents, it’s not going to end well most nights.
  • The talented rookies that have flooded the current roster have combined for zero goals in the first seven games. This includes the three games Adam Dach took part in while on his conditioning assignment. D Chad Krys and C Phillipp Kurashev each have two assists to pace the Hogs rookies in scoring.
  • Adam Boqvist and Nicolas Beaudin, two of the organization’s highly-touted defensemen, are both looking for their first point as professionals. Boqvist played both games in Cleveland after missing the previous two games. Beaudin sat out of Friday’s affair but had three shots on goal on Saturday.
  • I seem to be painting a rather dour picture of the piglets first month of action. Rockford is just seven games into a long season; I’ll put away my crayons for now.

 

Recaps

Friday, October 25-Cleveland 7, Rockford 1

The Monsters put an end to Rockford’s two-game win streak in emphatic fashion, despite the Hogs taking an early advantage.

Rockford opened the scoring midway through the opening period. Tyler Sikura gathered in a rebound from brother Dylan’s off angle shot. The Monsters goalie, Matiss Kivelniecks, stopped Sikura’s initial attempt, but Sikura’s second effort hit paydirt at 9:52 of the first.

The lead was short-lived. Cleveland erupted for four unanswered goals in the remainder of the first period. An Anton Karlsson shot slipped past Hogs goalie Collin Delia at 10:04. Ryan MacInnis took advantage of Delia being out of his crease to give the lead to the Monsters just at the 13:01 mark.

Just 44 seconds later, Nathan Gerbe sent a centering pass off of Hogs defenseman Lucas Carlsson for a 3-1 Cleveland advantage. Paul Bittner sent a shot from the high slot past Delia in the nineteenth minute.

Cleveland added a goal at 14:05 of the second period when MacInnis fed Calvin Thurkauf at the left post for the lamp-lighter. A minute later, Sam Vigneault was credited with the tally when a Kole Sherwood pass glanced off of the shin pads of Carlsson and past Delia.

Zac Dalpe put in a power play goal midway through a chippy third period for the final margin of victory.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Nick Moutrey-Reese Johnson-Dylan McLaughlin

Matthew Highmore (A)-Tyler Sikura (A)-Dylan Sikura

Anton Wedin-Jacob Nilsson-Brandon Hagel

Alexandre Fortin-Phillipp Kurahsev-MacKenzie Entwistle

Ian McCoshen-Adam Boqvist

Philip Holm-Joni Tuulola

Chad Krys-Lucas Carlsson

Collin Delia

Power Play (0-4)

Wedin-Hagel-Nilsson-Boqvist-Philip Holm

T. Sikura-D. Sikura-Kurashev-Highmore-Carlsson

Penalty Kill (Monsters were 1-2)

Forwards-Wedin, Nilsson, Highmore, T. Sikura, Entwistle, Johnson

Defense-Tuulola, Holm, Krys, Carlsson

 

Saturday, October 26-Cleveland 5, Rockford 0

It was all Monsters in the second game of the weekend; rookie goalie Veini Vehvilainen posted a shutout, stopping 29 Rockford shots.

All the offense Cleveland needed came in the first period. Ryan Collins threaded a shot to Matt Tomkins glove side that reached the top shelf of the goal 8:43 into the game. Ryan MacInnis took advantage of a turnover in the Hogs zone and made it 2-0 at the 16:27 mark.

Rockford gave up two goals in the first two minutes of the second period. That’s pretty much all she wrote for the IceHogs. Monsters captain Nathan Gerbe added a power play goal 7:50 into the period for the final margin of victory.

The Hogs had three chances to take the goose egg off the scoreboard vie the man advantage. Each time, they came up empty.

Tomkins made 38 saves on the afternoon in the losing effort.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Anton Wedin-Jacob Nilsson-Brandon Hagel

Nick Moutrey-Reese Johnson-MacKenzie Entwistle

Matthew Highmore (A)-Tyler Sikura (A)-Dylan Sikura

Tim Soderlund-Phillipp Kurahsev-Alexandre Fortin

Philp Holm-Lucas Carlsson

Ian McCoshen-Adam Boqvist

Nicolas Beaudin-Joni Tuulola

Matt Tomkins

 

Rampaging Into Rockford

Coming to the BMO Harris Bank Center Wednesday night is the San Antonio Rampage. San Antonio is tied with Grand Rapids for second place in the Central with a 4-1-2-1 mark.

Seventh-year pro Nathan Walker came over from Hershey this summer. Walker leads the Rampage with seven goals (two of which have been game-winners) and five helpers. Another Eastern Conference veteran, D Derrick Pouliot, arrives from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and has seven points (1 G, 6 A).

San Antonio added a lot of veteran pieces after a last-place finish in the division a season ago. Forwards like Cam Darcy (0 G, 5 A) Nick Lappin (four goals) and  Zach Nastasiuk fortifies the Rampage with experienced skaters.

Ville Husso (4-1-1. 2.35 GAA, .919 save percentage) has been very good in net for San Antonio the the early going. Like Cleveland, this is a team with AHL experience. The Rampage will be a tough opponent for the piglets as they try to snap their losing streak.

I’ll be back on Friday to preview Rockford’s weekend action with Iowa and Chicago. Until then, follow me @JonFromi on twitter to catch my thoughts on IceHogs hockey throughout the season.

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