To close out January and the stretch before the All-Star break, the IceHogs were slotted to play two games against Midwest Division rivals Charlotte and Milwaukee.
Friday, January 27 at Charlotte – The Hogs played their last regular season game of the year in the Queen City Friday night and were looking for revenge on the Checkers after their 4-3 shootout loss to them the night before. Bobby Sanguinetti opened up the scoring at 13:15 of the first period, while on the power play. It was the Checkers’ defenseman’s fourth tally of the season. Rasmus Rissanen added to Charlotte’s lead at 9:59 of the second period with his second goal of the year. Peter LeBlanc cut the deficit to one 1:01 later on the power play. LeBlanc then struck again at 9:10 of the final frame to tie the game up at two with his 15th of the year. That was also LeBlanc’s fourth goal in the last two games against the Checkers. 2:37 later, Dylan Olsen fired one past Charlotte goaltender John Muse for his third career professional goal and the Hogs wouldn’t look back after that, holding on for the 3-2 win.
-Rockford outshot Charlotte 30-25.
-The Hogs went 1-4 on the power play while the Checkers went 1-3.
Jeremy Morin led the Hogs with five shots on goal.
-Ben Smith and Rostislav Olesz were both +2 on the evening.
-Alec Richards got the start in net for the first time since January 11th in Chicago.
-Kyle Beach (shoulder), Alexander Salak (lower body), Brian Connelly, and Rob Flick (healthy) were the scratches. Connelly was a late scratch and the announcement that he was traded to the Calgary Flames for center Brendan Morrison came during the second intermission.
Saturday, January 28 vs Milwaukee – The IceHogs got off to a quick start back on home ice Saturday night. 4:15 in, Joe Lavin’s shot from the left point was deflected in by Rostislav Olesz who was parked out in front of Admirals goaltender Jeremy Smith. Milwaukee evened the score at 12:44 of the period as he tipped in Joel Champagne’s pass on the doorstep past Hogs netminder Carter Hutton. All-Star Brandon Pirri almost gave the Hogs the lead back in the final seconds of a power play with Tyler Sloan in the box for interference. Pirri’s dump-in took a funny hop off of a stanchion and almost got past Smith, but he flashed out the left pad at the last second. Lavin tallied his second goal of the year with a rocket of a shot from the left point as he entered Milwaukee’s zone at 10:34 of the second period. At 18:12 of the second, and with 27 seconds left on a power play, Brian Fahey sent an absolute bomb past Smith from the right circle to give the Hogs the 3-1 lead. Ben Smith set the Hogs’ alternate captain up very nicely. That was all the Hogs needed for the victory and to go 7-1-0-1 in their last nine games.
-Saturday night was Pink in the Rink night at the BMO Harris Bank Center.
-The IceHogs outshot the Admirals 30-28.
-Rockford went 1-5 on the man advantage and Milwaukee went 0-4 on their power play opportunities.
-Lavin, Shawn Lalonde, Jeremy Morin, and Brandon Pirri were all +2 on the night.
-Peter LeBlanc and Olesz each had a team high four shots on goal.
-The scratches were essentially the same, except Jimmy Hayes was also a healthy extra as he was recently reassigned to RockVegas.
-Lines and D pairs:
Morin – Pirri – Brandon Segal
Olesz – LeBlanc – Smith
Brandon Bollig – Byron Froese – Chris DiDomenico
Paul Zanette – Brandon Svendsen – Philippe Paradis
Ryan Stanton – Fahey
Dylan Olsen – Ben Youds
Lavin – Lalonde
–Friday, January 27 – Brian Connelly was recalled to Chicago in order for the trade with Calgary to go down.
–Saturday, January 28 – Jimmy Hayes was reassigned to Rockford from Chicago.
–Sunday, January 29 – Paul Zanette was reassigned to Toledo from Rockford.
–Thursday, February 2 – The IceHogs signed defenseman Wade Brookbank to a PTO. The 34-year-old returns to Rockford after playing 56 games and registering 2 goals last season with the club. He mainly played as a forward for most of the 2010-11 campaign and he played in his 700th professional game on March 19th against Peoria.
-The IceHogs are now 20-21-1-4 with 45 points. They’re still last in the Midwest Division, but are only a point behind Milwaukee and two behind Peoria, who holds the eighth spot in the Western Conference standings. The Admirals have four games in-hand on Rockford and Peoria has one game in-hand. These standings are before tonight’s games have gone final.
-Former IceHogs defenseman Brian Connelly won the fastest skater award in the AHL Skills Competition with a time of 13.851 seconds. The West took the event 18-10 from the East.
-The Western Conference All-Stars defeated the Eastern Conference All-Stars 8-7 in a shootout in the AHL All-Star Game in Atlantic City, New Jersey. IceHogs center Brandon Pirri and former Hogs d-man Brian Connelly each registered an assist. Peoria Rivermen goaltender Ben Bishop was named the game’s MVP.
-Hog Talk returns on Monday! This week’s guests are forwards Chris DiDomenico, Brandon Svendsen, and assistant coach Ben Simon. Catch the game on 100.5 NTA FM, online at nta.fm, or in-person at Granite City Food and Brewery.
Friday, February 3 at Chicago at 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, February 8 vs Lake Erie at 7:05 p.m.