The IceHogs picked up where they left off at the end of last season. They finished the year winning ten of their last eleven games and they carried the momentum over to start the 2011-12 season off with a 2-0-0-0 start. Since the franchise joined the AHL, they had never started off a season so well.
Saturday, October 8th vs Grand Rapids – The Hogs started out the season by taking on the Griffins at the BMO Harris Bank Center. Former Hogs defenseman, and new captain of the Griffins, Garnet Exelby was in the starting lineup for the visitors. Kyle Beach got on the board first for Rockford with a shot from the left point on the power play; he was played there often with the man advantage on Saturday. Peter LeBlanc, who registered the primary assist on the goal, provided the screen out in front. With 15 seconds left in the first, Willie Coetzee tied the game up for the Griffins with a power play goal. The Hogs regained their lead just over halfway in the second period. Following a Rob Klinkhammer shot, the puck was lying in Griffins goaltender Joey MacDonald’s crease. No one immediately saw where the puck was, except for Chris DiDomenico, who pounced on it and put it home for his first career AHL goal, which was also on the power play. Rockford kept that 2-1 lead until 13:38 of the third period when Jamie Johnson tied it up with a power play goal. Even though the game was dominated by special teams play, Brandon Segal notched the game winner at even strength with 2:43 remaining in regulation to make it 3-2. The Hogs are now 6-6-1-0 in home openers.
-The final shots on goal were 30-29 Grand Rapids; The Hogs’ power play went 2-3 while Grand Rapids went 2-5.
-Jimmy Hayes registered his first career AHL point on Beach’s goal.
-Beach, Segal, Brandon Pirri, and Brian Fahey each had a team high 4 shots on goal.
-Brett McLean, Segal, and Fahey were named assistant captains.
-Lines and defensive pairings:
Klinkhammer – McLean – Segal
LeBlanc – Pirri – Hayes
Beach – Byron Froese – Andrew Shaw
Brandon Bollig – Rob Flick – DiDomenico
Brian Connelly – Fahey
Ryan Stanton – Shawn Lalonde
Joe Lavin – Dylan Olsen
-The scratches Saturday night were Jeremy Morin (upper body injury), David Toews, and Ben Youds. Both Toews and Youds were healthy scratches.
Sunday, October 9th at Peoria – The second game of the season didn’t start out great for the Hogs. They gave up the first goal 1:52 into the game as Peoria came out flying and the Hogs didn’t quite have their legs under them yet. Segal answered the bell at the 10:48 mark of the first period to tie the game up, but just over three minutes later, T.J. Hensick gave the Rivermen the lead back. The Hogs were lucky to only be down by one goal after the first; they were outshot 11-2. After a rash of penalties to Peoria in the second period, Rockford found themselves with a 5-on-3 power play. Who else but Segal tied the game up at two with his third goal of the young season. Klinkhammer gave the Hogs their first lead of the game after he stole the puck away from Rivs goalie Ben Bishop behind the net and stuffed it home. Stefan Della Rovere knotted things up at three for the Rivs at 9:35 of the third period. Less than two minutes later, the Hogs took the lead and never looked back. Shaw led a rush down the right wing boards into Peoria’s zone and sent a cross ice pass over to Beach in the left circle, who easily buried it. Klinkhammer added an empty net goal with 45 seconds left in the game to make the score 5-3.
-The lineup was the same as the previous night, except for a minor change: Flick came out of the lineup and was a healthy scratch and Youds came in. With the addition of another defenseman, Rockford rotated seven D. Klinkhammer and Hayes were among some of the guys who took some shifts on the fourth line’s right wing.
-Former IceHog Kyle Hagel was a scratch for the Rivermen.
-The final shots on goal for the game were 38-29 in Peoria’s favor; Rockford’s power play went 1-5 while Peoria’s went 0-5.
-Fahey was a +3.
-Klinkhammer had a team high four shots on goal.
-Richards was rewarded for his good play Saturday night with his second start in a row.
-On Saturday, the Blackhawks recalled Marcus Kruger and reassigned Pirri.
-On Wednesday, the Blackhawks recalled goaltender Alexander Salak and assigned him to Rockford today.
-Goaltender Carter Hutton was recalled from the Toledo Walleye today and forward David Toews was loaned to the Walleye.
-Friday, October 14th at Abbotsford at 9:00 pm CT
-Sunday, October 16 at Abbotsford at 3:0 pm CT