The IceHogs made their way deep into the heart of Texas for this swing of the road trip that started in Peoria on New Year’s Eve. After playing three games in three days, they headed on back to Illinois for a midweek matchup with the Wolves in Chicago.
Friday, January 6 at Houston – The Hogs started their Texas swing of this long road trip in Houston on Friday night. Coming into the game, Houston was 4-0-0-2 against Midwest division teams this season, which made the tilt at hand seem very tough. The Hogs were up to the challenge and scored first on Ben Smith’s ninth tally of the year at the three minute mark of the first. Mike McKenzie tied the game 11:31 later on his first goal of the 2011-12 campaign. Peter LeBlanc came up big for the Hogs yet again this year at 5:10 of the second period when he gave Rockford their lead back. Brandon Bollig tallied at 5:52 of the third to make it 3-1 and Rostislav Olesz, back in the lineup after missing two games with an undisclosed injury, added an empty netter with 48 seconds remaining in the game to give the Hogs a 4-1 victory.
-The Hogs outshot the Aeros 31-28.
-Rockford went 0-1 on the power play and Houston went 0-3.
-LeBlanc, Olesz, and Jeremy Morin led the team with four shots on goal apiece.
-Defenseman Dan Henningson, who signed a PTO with the Hogs on Thursday, January 5th, was +1 in his debut with the Hogs. He played five games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton already this season and was a +2 and registered an assist.
-Brian Connelly tied Jeff DaCosta, from the UHL days, for the IceHogs franchise record for most career assists in a Hogs sweater (100) with his helper on Bollig’s goal.
-Offensive machine and former IceHog Jeff Taffe was held to just two shots on goal and was -2 in his first game against the team since signing with the Minnesota organization.
-Kyle Beach (shoulder), Alexander Salak (lower body), Shawn Lalonde (upper body), and Rob Flick (healthy) were the scratches.
-Alec Richards started in net Friday night for Rockford.
Saturday, January 7 at Texas – Jeremy Morin carried the IceHogs into Saturday night’s tilt against the Stars as he scored at the 3:03 mark of the first period. The Auburn, New York, native tipped in a Dylan Olsen shot for his sixth goal of the season, his first since December 4th in Peoria. Francis Wathier tied the game for Texas at 8:55 and then Ryan Garbutt gave the Stars the lead just under eight minutes later. Brad Lukowich tallied his second goal of the year 21 seconds into the second period to make Texas’ lead 3-1. Ben Youds closed the Hogs’ deficit to one at 14:28, but that was as close as Rockford would get to tying the game. Matt Fraser tacked on an empty net goal with 46 seconds left in regulation to make it 4-2 and to give Texas the win.
-The Stars outshot Rockford 31-27.
-The Hogs failed to convert on all five of their power play opportunities while Texas went 2-3 on the power play.
-Brandon Segal had a team high five shots on goal for Rockford.
-In his first game back in Rockford since his stint with the Hawks, Dylan Olsen assisted on both IceHog goals, which was his first career multi-point pro game.
-Rostislav Olesz left the game in the second period with an upper body injury.
-The scratches were the same as the game against Houston, except Rob Flick took Chris DiDomenico’s spot in the lineup.
-Alec Richards started in net once again for the IceHogs.
Sunday, January 8 at Texas – The Hogs didn’t need to wait long for a chance to get even with the Stars as they faced them yet again Sunday evening. Scott Glennie got the home team on the board at 1:24 of the first period. Byron Froese answered back for Rockford less than three minutes later with his third goal on the 2011-12 campaign. 66 seconds later, Ben Smith tipped in a Ryan Stanton shot to give the Hogs the 2-1 lead. Brad Lukowich scored against the Hogs for the second straight night at 16:04 of the period to tie the game back up at two. Hogs captain Brandon Segal broke the deadlock at 1:25 of the second period with a shorthanded breakaway goal. As a team, it was only Rockford’s second shorthanded goal this season. Matt Fraser once again tied the game up for Texas 13 seconds after the midway point of the middle frame. Ryan Garbutt then gave the Stars the lead at 12:18. Defenseman Dylan Olsen chipped in with his second career pro goal at 3:35 of the third to tie things, yet again, at four. Glennie tallied his second of the game for Texas to give them the lead back at 7:20. The seesaw game continued as Rob Flick scored his first career AHL goal with 2:24 remaining in regulation to tie the game and send it into overtime. The Hogs started the free hockey session on a power play due to a Garbutt slashing penalty with three seconds left in the third. They made their man advantage count as Brandon Pirri scored his team leading 15th goal of the year at 1:02 to give Rockford the 6-5 win.
-The IceHogs outshot the Stars 35-25.
-Rockford went 1-4 on the power play and Texas went 3-6.
-Smith had a team high six shots on goal for Rockford on Sunday night.
-With his game tying goal in the third, Flick recorded a Gordie Howe hat trick. He had dropped the gloves with Brenden Dillon in the first and assisted on Olsen’s third period tally.
-Including his stint with the Hawks, Olsen played his fourth game in four days.
-Brian Connelly is now in sole possession of the IceHogs team record for most assists with the club (101). His lone assist of the game came on Pirri’s overtime winner. Cons now has 27 helpers on the year.
-Carter Hutton was in net to finish out this 3-in-3 weekend for the Hogs. He earned his second assist on the year on Segal’s shorthanded goal.
-Chris DiDomenico was back in the lineup after sitting out Saturday’s contest as a healthy scratch for Rostislav Olesz, who couldn’t go with his upper body injury.
Wednesday, January 11 at Chicago – Wednesday was an odd start for the IceHogs as the puck dropped at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont at 11 a.m.; The Wolves held a school day matinee for over 6,000 school kids and others. Michael Davies got Chicago out front first with a wrister from the slot at 9:51 of the first period while on the power play. 1:18 later, Brandon Pirri led a rush up the right wing side of the ice and had a two-on-one with Jeremy Morin. Pirri dished the puck over to Morin and he fired it home for his seventh goal of the year. At 14:29, Victor Oreskovich got the lead back for the Wolves as he shoveled a puck home from the side of the net. The Hogs answered back at 7:04 of the second, courtesy of Morin yet again. A Chris DiDomenico pass off the end boards came right to Morin on Wolves’ goalie Matt Climie’s right and tapped it home. The Hogs started taking some undisciplined penalties after the goal. They ended up giving Chicago a 5-on-3 power play late in the second as Brian Fahey was in the box for elbowing and then Brandon Segal took an offensive zone penalty for crosschecking while on the kill. Segal’s penalty came with 12 seconds left in the period. They were able to kill it off, but they continued to tread on a slippery slope. They took two more penalties at the beginning of the third and the momentum was all in the Wolves’ hands afterwards. Mark Mancari struck twice in 57 seconds, starting at 9:37 and then at 10:34, to give the Wolves a two goal lead. Chicago wouldn’t look back after that and came out with the 4-2 victory.
-The Hogs outshot the Wolves 28-27.
-Rockford went 0-3 on the power play and Chicago went 1-7.
-Morin and Brian Connelly led Rockford with five shots on goal each.
-The lineup was the same as Sunday.
-Alec Richards got the start in net.
-All of Morin’s eight goals have come on the road this season.
-Saturday, January 7 – Defenseman Dan Henningson was released from his PTO with the IceHogs. The Blackhawks also sent defenseman Dylan Olsen back to Rockford.
-Monday, January 9 – Forward Ben Smith was recalled by the Blackhawks due to Patrick Sharp being placed on Injured Reserve. Brandon Svendsen was signed to a PTO. He was the Kalamazoo Wings’ (ECHL) leading scorer with 35 points (13 G, 22 A) in 28 games. He was with the IceHogs during training camp and played well before being released on October 4th.
-On Monday, the IceHogs announced former Hogs defenseman Nick Leddy, forward Bryan Bickell, and coach Mike Haviland will be on hand at the BMO Harris Bank Center on January 22nd to sign autographs for Blackhawks night. Read here for more details.
-The IceHogs announced details for their annual Bowl-A-Thon on March 4th. Read here for more information about the event.
Friday, January 13 at Oklahoma City at 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, January 14 at San Antonio at 7:00 p.m.
Monday, January 16 vs Texas at 1:05 p.m.