IceHogs Thursday: Weekend Sweep Provides A Huge Lift For Rockford

Brian Connelly: An All-Star twice over. (Photo Credit: Kim Wrona)

The IceHogs had a big 3-in-3 weekend in week 17. The first two games of the set featured a home-and-home against the Wolves and then a matchup at the BMO Harris Bank Center against Milwaukee. They were looking to build on a momentous 2-0 home victory against the Texas Stars earlier in the week. There’s also a game in Charlotte thrown in here somewhere as well.

Friday, January 20 vs Chicago – On Friday, the Hogs quickly got the home crowd fired up as Rob Flick scored a pretty goal 1:20 into the contest. He got around the Wolves’ defense and sent a backhanded shot past Chicago goalie Matt Climie, five-hole. Brandon Pirri tallied his 16th goal of the season at 12:41 of the period. Pirri grabbed a rebound on his backhand in the bottom of the right circle and got it past Climie high blocker side. Jordan Schroeder got the Wolves on the board at 6:33 of the middle frame. The puck took some funny bounces after Hogs netminder Carter Hutton made a couple of saves, yet it somehow managed to trickle across the goal line. Less than two minutes later, Darren Haydar tied the game up at two for the visitors with his 12th of the year. The veteran forward tipped in Schroeder’s shot as he cruised through the left side of the slot. Rostislav Olesz, in his first game back from missing five games due to an upper body injury, got the lead back for Rockford as he flipped the puck past Climie from below the left circle. That marker was Olesz’s eighth of the season. The IceHogs had multiple opportunities in the third period to tack on some insurance goals to their one goal lead, but Climie was strong and kept the Wolves in it. He stopped Pirri on a partial breakaway, stopped a great Peter LeBlanc opportunity, and then a tip chance, all in a matter of minutes. Climie also got lucky, and some help from his defense, with less than 9:20 remaining in regulation. Hogs captain Brandon Segal was parked out in front of the 6-foot-3 netminder and was able to grab a Ryan Stanton rebound. Segal hit the right post with his attempt and the puck slid through the blue paint to the other side of the crease. No Hogs were able to pick it up and the Wolves defense did its job. The Wolves pulled Climie late for the extra attacker, but Rockford was able to hold on for the win.

-The Hogs outshot the Wolves 25-22.

-Rockford went 0-5 on the power play and Chicago went 0-3.

-Flick saw time on the second power play unit with fellow forwards Olesz and LeBlanc and defensemen Brian Fahey and Dylan Olsen.

-Hutton recorded his third apple of the season as he was awarded the secondary assist on Flick’s first period tally.

-Olesz registered a team high four shots on goal in the matchup.

-The scratches were: Kyle Beach (shoulder), Alexander Salak (lower body), Ben Youds, and Paul Zanette (healthy extras).

-The start time of the game was delayed to 8 p.m. because the Wolves were having issues getting to Rockford due to the snow storm.

-The lines and d pairs were:

Jeremy Morin – Pirri – Byron Froese

Brandon Svendsen – LeBlanc – Segal

Olesz – David Gilbert – Chris DiDomenico

Philippe Paradis – Flick – Brandon Bollig

Olsen – Brian Connelly

Ryan Stanton – Fahey

Joe Lavin – Shawn Lalonde

Saturday, January 21 at Chicago – With the opportunity to sweep the Wolves and gain some ground in the standings, the Hogs looked to get out to another quick start Saturday night. And they did just that. Rostislav Olesz brought the puck down the left wing boards and Wolves goalie Eddie Lack attempted to poke check the biscuit away from Olesz. Lack missed, lost his net, and Olesz wrapped it around and into the empty net at 2:01 for his ninth of the year. One of the Wolves’ All-Star Game representatives, Kevin Connauton, tied the game at 14:11 with his shot from the blue line that beat Hogs goalie Carter Hutton high glove side. Tim Miller gave the Wolves their first lead of the weekend set at 13:53 of the second period. He picked up the loose change below the left circle from a Jordan Schroeder shot and fired it into the empty cage with Hutton down. IceHogs defenseman Brian Connelly answered back at 1:55 of the third period. His shot from the blue line somehow found its way past Lack for Connelly’s fifth tally of the year. At 10:01, Byron Froese picked off a Chicago clearing attempt from just inside the Wolves’ blue line, walked in around the defense to the right circle, and sent a sick wrister past Lack for his fourth of the 2011-12 campaign and to give the Hogs the 3-2 lead, which they never relinquished.

-Chicago outshot Rockford 39-20.

-The Hogs went 0-2 in the power play. Chicago went 0-4.

-Jeremy Morin led the Hogs with four shots on goal.

-Morin, Froese, and Brandon Pirri were all +2 on the night.

-The second power play united was switched up again. This time it featured Morin, Froese, Rob Flick, Brian Fahey, and Dylan Olsen.

-The only changes in the lineup were David Gilbert coming out in favor of Paul Zanette and Ben Youds being inserted back into the lineup for Joe Lavin on D.

-Saturday night was the first time all season that the Hogs have won three games in a row.

-Lines and D combos:

Morin – Pirri – Froese

Olesz – Peter LeBlanc – Brandon Segal

Philippe Paradis – Chris DiDomenico – Brandon Bollig

Brandon Svendsen – Flick – Zanette

Shawn Lalonde – Connelly

Ryan Stanton – Fahey

Dylan Olsen – Youds

Sunday, January 22 vs Milwaukee – The Hogs had all of the momentum going into Sunday’s game and looked to sweep the weekend and win their fourth straight game. Milwaukee drew the first blood of the game despite all that as Aaron Marvin tipped in a Jonathon Blum shot for his first goal of the year at 5:49 of the first period. Brandon Pirri brought the Hogs back to even with the Admirals at 12:48 of the period on the power play. His wicked shot from the right circle beat Ads goaltender Jeremy Smith high blocker side for the center’s 17th tally of the season. At 7:14 of the second period, Pirri took a high stick to the face from Brodie Dupont, resulting¬† in the Hogs’ third power play of the game. Pirri made the Ads pay as he sent another sick snipe from the bottom of the right circle past Smith at 8:17 to give the Hogs their first lead of the contest. The Hogs had a chance to cushion their lead with less than six minutes remaining in regulation. Brandon Segal led Peter LeBlanc on a two-on-one into Milwaukee’s zone. The pass to LeBlanc wasn’t an option, due to the backchecking Milwaukee player, and Smith was forced to make a blocker save on the Hogs’ captain. The Hogs battled through a couple of consecutive icings and Smith being pulled for the sixth attacker to take the tilt and improve their record to 18-21-1-3 (40 points).

-Milwaukee outshot Rockford 34-26.

-The Hogs kept Milwaukee from scoring on all three of their power play opportunities while the Hogs converted on two of their five attempts.

-Segal led the Hogs with five shots on net.

-The Hogs only got five shots on goal in the third period; their first one didn’t come until after the 10:30 mark of the period. Segal registered that one.

-The only change in the lineup was on the back end as Joe Lavin replaced Ben Youds.

-The lines and D were changed up a bit again:

Jeremy Morin – Pirri – Byron Froese

Rostislav Olesz – LeBlanc – Segal

Brandon Bollig – Chris DiDomenico – Brandon Svendsen

Paul Zanette – Rob Flick – Philippe Paradis

Dylan Olsen – Brian Connelly

Ryan Stanton – Brian Fahey

Lavin – Shawn Lalonde

-Hutton was in net for his sixth consecutive start.

-It was Blackhawks Night at the BMO Sunday as former Hogs and current Hawks Bryan Bickell, Nick Leddy, and assistant coach Mike Haviland were on hand to sign autographs before the game and during the first intermission. They were paraded around the ice surface in a convertible before puck drop as well.

Thursday, January 26 at Charlotte – The Hogs started out week 18 and another 3-in-3 set in Charlotte. The home team jumped on the board first at 5:46 with a power play goal from Riley Nash. It was the forward’s fifth goal of the year and it snapped the Hogs’ penalty killing streak of 27 consecutive kills. The Checkers added to their lead with two more power play goals in the second period. Nash tallied his second of the game at 2:59 and then Zac Dalpe buried a feed from Zach Boychuk at 8:51 to make it 3-0. Peter LeBlanc cut the Charlotte lead to two with 1:01 left in the frame as he scored his 12th goal of the season. LeBlanc struck again at 7:32 of the third period to cut the deficit to one. With 90 seconds remaining. All-Star Brandon Pirri tied the game at three with his 19th tally of the year, which sent the game into overtime and then a shootout. Charlotte went first and tallied in the first two rounds off of the sticks of Drayson Bowman and Chris Terry. Brandon Bollig tallied for Rockford in the first round, but Pirri wasn’t able to beat Checkers netminder John Muse, in net for the injured normal starter Mike Murphy, in the second. Dalpe and LeBlanc were held off of the scoresheet in the third round while Matthew Pistilli and Rostislav Olesz tallied in the fourth round. In the fifth round, Nash couldn’t beat Hogs goaltender Carter Hutton, who was making his seventh consecutive start, but Muse denied Brandon Segal to give the Midwest Division leaders the W.

-Rockford outshot Charlotte 32-30.

-Rockford went 0-4 on the power play while the Checkers converted on all three of their chances.

-LeBlanc led the Hogs with five shots on net.

-Ben Smith, Shawn Lalonde, LeBlanc, and Olesz were all +2 on the night.

-Ben Youds and Philippe Paradis were the healthy scratches.

-The Hogs’ record is now 18-21-1-4 (41 points). They’re last in the division, but only four points behind Peoria, who has a game in-hand. They’re tied for 13th in the Western Conference with Hamilton and Lake Erie; Hamilton has three games in-hand. The Hogs are only five points behind eighth place San Antonio, who has two games in-hand.

Roster Notes

Monday, January 23 – The IceHogs released Brandon Svendsen from his PTO, but then he signed an AHL contract with the club. It is only a one year deal.

Tuesday, January 24 – Brandon Pirri was recalled by the Blackhawks.

Wednesday, January 25 – Brandon Pirri and Ben Smith were reassigned to Rockford from Chicago and David Gilbert was reassigned to the Toledo Walleye.

Tidbits

-On Tuesday, January 24th, Brian Connelly was named to the AHL’s All-Star roster. It’s the second consecutive year that Connelly will be representing the IceHogs at this event. Brandon Pirri is the other Hog going to the game. The Skills Competition will be on January 29th and the All-Star game is on Monday, January 30th. The events are in Atlantic City, New Jersey, this season.

Upcoming Games

Friday, January 27 at Charlotte at 6:00 p.m.

Saturday, January 28 vs Milwaukee at 7:05 p.m. (It’s Pink In The Rink night at the BMO Harris Bank Center!)

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