December continued to be a busy month for the IceHogs as they were slated to play four games in six days at the end of week ten and the beginning of week eleven. Two of the four games were against divisional opponents and the other two were against Grand Rapids.
Friday, December 9 vs Chicago – A full moon was out and shining brightly down on the BMO Harris Bank Center Friday evening as the Wolves rolled into Rockford to take on the Hogs for their third matchup of the season. Anton Rodin got the Wolves on the board first at 4:21 with a wrist shot from the hashmarks. 47 seconds later, Byron Froese netted his first career AHL goal as he tapped home a Rob Flick feed from the top of the crease. Andrew Shaw gave Rockford the lead at 9:43. From out front, he redirected in a Brian Fahey shot that came from the left point. 2:25 later, Jimmy Hayes beautifully stripped the puck away from a Wolves player and set up Peter LeBlanc at the right circle hashmarks for LeBlanc’s seventh goal of the year. That was the end of Wolves goaltender Matt Climie’s night as Chicago head coach Craig MacTavish pulled him in favor of Eddie Lack. 34 seconds into Lack’s night, Shaw struck again. The puck trickled in behind Lack and Shaw pounced on it and pushed it across the goal line. It was his sixth tally of the season. Mark Mancari cut the Hogs’ lead to 4-2 at 11:08 of the second period. His blast from the point on the power play beat Hogs goalie Carter Hutton high glove side. Mancari pulled the Wolves to within one 2:27 later. He hammered home a shot from the bottom of the left circle and into the wide open net after a nice pass from Mark Matheson. Brett McLean gave the Hogs a bit of breathing room at 17:25. He had danced around numerous check attempts in the Chicago zone, came around the net to the bottom of the right circle, and fired a shot on net and it found its way in for his seventh of the year. Rostislav Olesz gave the Hogs the 6-3 lead at 13:10 of the third after he picked up a Joe Lavin rebound and shoveled it home. The Hogs hung on for the win, giving them a 9-13-1-0 record with 19 points.
-The Hogs outshot the Wolves 38-35.
-Rockford went 0-4 on the power play and Chicago went 1-5.
-Dylan Olsen got in his first professional fight at the very end of the game. Kevin Connauton had originally challenged him during the third period, but Olsen waited until the end to take care of that business. Olsen and Connauton both received 15 penalty minutes (5 for fighting and 10 minute misconducts). Brandon Bollig and Antoine Roussel were also handed 10 minute misconducts as they continued to jaw after Olsen and Connauton had been sent to their respective dressing rooms.
-Brandon Pirri, Jeremy Morin, and McLean each registered four shots on goal.
-With his assists on Froese’s goal and Shaw’s first goal, Philippe Paradis recorded his first career multi-point pro game.
-Flick’s primary assist on Froese’s goal was his first career AHL point.
-Kyle Beach (shoulder), Salak (lower body), David Gilbert, and Ben Youds (healthy) were the scratches.
-The lines and D pairs were:
Paradis – McLean – Brandon Segal
Shaw – Pirri – Morin
Olesz – LeBlanc – Hayes
Bollig – Froese – Flick
Olsen – Brian Connelly
Ryan Stanton – Fahey
Lavin – Shawn Lalonde
Saturday, December 10 vs Grand Rapids – The Hogs looked to grab another two points Saturday night against the Griffins as they continue to inch their way back to .500. Grand Rapids jumped on the board first with Gustav Nyquist’s ninth goal of the season at 8:38 of the first. Olesz tied the game up at the 4:50 mark of the second period as he grabbed a Hayes rebound and fired it home. Lalonde gave Rockford their first lead of the game with 41 seconds left in the period with his rocket from the right point for his first on the 2011-12 campaign. Griffins goalie Jordan Pearce was very strong in the third period. Early on in the last frame, he stoned McLean with his left pad. McLean had beautifully danced around a Griffins defender in the slot after Segal had set him up, but it was to no avail. Pearce also stopped Paradis on a shorthanded breakaway and then stopped a great shot by Flick after a perfect pass from Hayes to keep his team within one. Pearce was rewarded for his efforts with 47 seconds left. Grand Rapids managed to tie it up and then send the game into overtime. The Hogs killed off a late penalty in the extra frame and the game went to a shootout. Hutton stopped Francis Pare, Jamie Johnson, and Tomas Tatar in rounds 3-5. Brendan Smith and Nyquist scored in rounds 1 and 2, blocker side and glove side respectively. Pirri and Morin scored in rounds 2 and 3 in order to give Hutton a chance to continue the shootout. In round 6, Segal scored for Rockford and Hutton then stopped Landon Ferraro to give the Hogs the 3-2 win.
-Grand Rapids fired 43 shots on net and Rockford had 32 shots.
-The Hogs failed to convert on their five power plays and the Griffins scored on one of their five opportunities.
-Morin led the Hogs with seven shots on goal.
-The lineup was the same as Friday night.
Sunday, December 11 at Milwaukee – The Hogs and Admirals faced off for the first of twelve times this season Sunday afternoon. Rockford opened up the scoring at 4:09. From the right circle, Hayes sauced the puck over to a pinching Olsen, who was coming in from the left point. All he had to do was tip it into the empty net for his first career professional goal. Joel Champagne answered back for Milwaukee 4:27 later with his third goal of the season. LeBlanc gave the Hogs the lead back at 13:12 after he provided traffic in front of Ads goalie Jeremy Smith and tipped in a Fahey shot from the right circle. The see-saw period continued as Milwaukee tied it up again at 14:10. Mark Van Guilder tallied his fourth of the year. The Ads then took the lead with 1:09 left in the period on Jani Lajunen’s first of the season. It didn’t take long at all before Rockford tied the game back up at three in the second period. At 2:04, Morin beautifully set up Shaw and Shaw went five-hole on Smith for the equalizer. 4:50 later, the Hogs regained the lead on the power play with Olesz’s sixth of the year. Rockford was dealt a major blow offensively at 13:44 of the period. Champagne was hit with a Morin trailing elbow and went down in a heap. He was laying on the ice for quite awhile before he was placed on a stretcher and wheeled off. Morin was tagged with a five minute major for elbowing and a game misconduct, which ended his night. Luckily for the Hogs, they were able to kill off the five minute Milwaukee power play that featured many solid saves from Alec Richards. The Hogs took their 4-3 lead into the final frame, but Van Guilder scored his second of the night at 3:02 to tie it up. The game went into overtime and then a shootout for the second straight night for Rockford. Michael Latta and Ryan Ellis tallied in the first two rounds for the Ads and Pirri and Olesz weren’t able to convert for the Hogs. Jusso Puustinen and Gabriel Bourque didn’t score for Milwaukee in the third and fourth rounds, giving the Hogs a bit of hope to keep the shootout alive, but Segal and Hayes faced the same fate as the previous Hogs shooters and Milwaukee walked away with the 5-4 victory.
-The Ads outshot Rockford 45-20.
-The Hogs went 1-2 on the power play and Milwaukee went 0-4.
-Shaw led the Hogs with four shots on net.
-LeBlanc and Olsen were both +2 on the evening.
-Lavin and Flick came out of the lineup in order to let Youds and Gilbert play.
-On Tuesday, Morin was suspended by the AHL for three games as a result of the elbow on Champagne. He’ll be back in the lineup on December 21st when the Toronto Marlies roll into the BMO.
Wednesday, December 14 at Grand Rapids – The Hogs made the trek up to Michigan on Wednesday for their fourth and final meeting of the season against the Griffins. The home team hopped on the board first at 1:07. Willie Coetzee scored his sixth goal of the season for the Griffs. Less than three minutes later, Shaw evened things up with his eighth of the year. Lavin gave the Hogs the lead at 8:20 of the period with his first career professional goal. Francis Pare scored with just under five minutes left in the first to make it 2-2. The second period was scoreless, but featured a combined seven penalties between the two teams. Coetzee opened up the third period with his second goal of the night at 1:43, giving Grand Rapids the 3-2 lead, but Shaw countered with his second of the contest as well at 3:19 to make things equal again. Segal tipped in Lalonde’s shot at 5:47 to give the Hogs the lead, but Trevor Parkes tallied his first of the year to make it 4-4 at 11:17. For the third straight game for the Hogs, they found themselves in overtime and then a shootout. Seven rounds were needed to decide the winner and the Griffins came out on top on Landon Ferraro’s goal in the last round. Pirri was the lone Hog to score and that happened in the second round. Brendan Smith answered for Grand Rapids in the bottom of the second to even the shootout back up. The Hogs now have a record of 10-13-1-2 (23 points) and sit last in the Midwest Division and are tied for last in the Western Conference with the Hamilton Bulldogs, who has the same exact record as Rockford.
-Rockford outshot Grand Rapids 33-29.
-The Hogs went 0-6 on the power play and the Griffins went 0-4.
-Segal, Shaw, and Olesz all registered four shots on net.
-Pirri, Shaw, and Ben Smith were all +3.
-Hutton started in net for Rockford.
-Youds was the lone healthy scratch, besides the suspended Morin.
-Lavin’s three point game was his first career multi-point professional game.
-Wednesday was the first time this season that the Hogs have earned points in four straight games.
–Monday, December 12 – The Blackhawks reassigned Ben Smith to Rockford.
–Tuesday, December 13 – Gilbert was reassigned to Toledo in order to get some ice time.
–Thursday, December 15 – Gilbert was reassigned to Rockford from Toledo and Smith was recalled by the Blackhawks.
-On December 9, McLean was named to Team Canada’s roster for the Spengler Cup. The tournament will take place in Davos, Switzerland from December 26 to December 31.
-Paradis, Pirri, and goaltending coach Andrew Allen will be the guests on Hog Talk on Monday, December 19. Listen to the broadcast on 100.5 NTA FM, online at nta.fm, or in person at Granite City Food and Brewery in Rockford.
Friday, December 16 vs Peoria at 7:05
Saturday, December 17 vs Milwaukee at 7:05
Wednesday, December 21 vs Toronto at 7:05