Despite going .500 in week 21 of the AHL schedule, the IceHogs still find themselves in the thick of the playoff hunt, thanks in part to the six game winning streak that they put together. Unfortunately, that streak was snapped on Saturday night.
The IceHogs had two home games during week 21 and the first was on Friday, March 1st against the Peoria Rivermen. Carter Hutton was in net for Rockford and he made 23 saves as he backstopped the IceHogs to a 4-1 victory. Ben Smith tallied two goals and Jeremy Morin scored two power play goals in the contest. With his two goals, Morin extended his points streak to seven games. In addition, Brandon Pirri racked up 3 assists to extend his points streak to seven games.
The next night, the IceHogs were right back at it at the BMO Harris Bank Center with a tilt against the Milwaukee Admirals. Henrik Karlsson was in between the pipes for the Hogs and he made 24 saves as Rockford dropped the game 3-2, which ended their six game winnings streak. Kyle Beach and Jimmy Hayes netted Rockford’s two goals. Brandon Pirri recorded an assist on Beachy’s second period marker, which extended his points streak to eight games. Jeremy Morin was held off the scoresheet, snapping his points streak.
-In his fourth game back from his hand injury, Ben Smith scored his first two goals—giving him a total of 17 on the year. Since his return, it hasn’t taken Smith long to get re-adjusted to the game. He’s been playing solid hockey in all three zones of the ice and has been creating some good scoring chances.
–Jeremy Morin and Brandon Pirri are continuing to play solid hockey. They’re both doing very well in the offensive zone as they use their good vision and hockey sense to set up plays and generate scoring chances.
–Terry Broadhurst has cooled off since his offense flared up a couple of weeks back. Broadhurst isn’t playing bad by any means, but he’s lost some of the confidence that he so noticeably carried not that long ago.
–Brandon Svendsen was a warrior this weekend. On Friday night against Peoria, he blocked at least 3-4 big shots—by my count—to prevent some grade A scoring chances for the Rivs. Then late in the second period, he was brutally boarded by Rivs forward Chris Bruton and had to be taken off the ice on a stretcher. The consensus was that Svendsen would probably be done for a long time, but low-and-behold, he returned for the third period and was even used on the 5-on-3 penalty kill. Svendsen also played the following night against Milwaukee. So, essentially, this has been a Brandon Svendsen appreciation paragraph. Go on with your bad self, Svenny.
–Dylan Olsen returned to the line-up from an injury on Saturday night. He took Ben Youds’ place on the blue line. Olsen was a very physical presence on the ice in his return.
–Carter Hutton played some outstanding hockey on Friday night. After giving up a fairly soft goal to Mark Cundari to begin the game, he rallied back and made some huge and much needed stops to help the Hogs carry the momentum during the game and turn that into their six consecutive victory.
–Henrik Karlsson had a less than stellar game on Saturday night. The defense didn’t help at some points, especially on Milwaukee’s first goal, but it just wasn’t a pretty night in net for Rockford.
-The lines and D pairs looked like this:
Terry Broadhurst – Brandon Pirri – Brad Mills
Martin St. Pierre – Jimmy Hayes – Jeremy Morin
Kenndal McArdle – Rob Flick – Kyle Beach
Ben Smith – Brandon Svendsen – Mathieu Beaudoin
Ryan Stanton – Adam Clendening
Joe Lavin – Shawn Lalonde
Klas Dahlbeck – Ben Youds (on Friday)/Dylan Olsen (on Saturday)
-The IceHogs have a record of 28-26-1-1 (58 points). They are tied with Milwaukee for 3rd in the Midwest Division, but hold the spot since they have more wins. In the Western Conference, the Hogs are tied with Milwaukee for 11th place. They are 4 points out of the eighth and final playoff spot, which is currently held by the Abbotsford Heat.
-Check out Carter Hutton’s interview from the Stone and Double T show in Rockford on WXRX from Tuesday morning.
-IceHogs defenseman Shawn Lalonde turns 23 on Sunday, March 10th. Happy birthday, Shawn!
What’s Next For Rockford?
Friday, March 8 at Oklahoma City at 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 9 at Oklahoma City at 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, March 10 at Chicago at 4:00 p.m.