The end of week 22 featured two more divisional games for the IceHogs. This time both were on the road and came in Milwaukee and Peoria.
Friday, March 2 at Milwaukee – For the second time in four games, Rockford faced off against the Admirals in a Midwest Division showdown. The Hogs steered the ship in the right direction on Friday as they drew the first blood of the game. Alternate captain Ryan Stanton registered his first goal of the season at 12:27 of the opening frame as his bomb of a shot was deflected in by a Milwaukee defender. Ads defenseman Victor Bartley tied the game at 3:53 of the second period with his seventh goal of the year. Brandon Pirri gave the Hogs the lead back at 3:55 of the third with a sick snipe shot from the right circle that went glove side on Ads netminder Atte Engren. Rockford wouldn’t look back after that. At 7:29, Jeremy Morin extended the lead to 3-1 with his 13th goal on the 2011-12 campaign. The goal came on a five-on-three power play–believe it or not–went five-hole on Engren, and insured the road win for the IceHogs.
-Milwaukee outshot Rockford 45-27.
-The IceHogs went 1-2 on the power play and the Ads failed to convert on their four man advantages.
-Stanton, Pirri, Ben Smith, and Matt Fornataro were each +2.
-Pirri’s three point game brought him to 22 goals and 28 assists (50 points) on the year. He also tied Jack Skille’s all-time team record for game winning goals in a season with six.
-Fornataro registered two assists in this tilt.
-Pirri led the Hogs with five shots on goal.
-The scratches were: Kyle Beach (shoulder), Rob Flick, and Wade Brookbank (healthy).
-Carter Hutton started between the pipes for Rockford.
Saturday, March 3 at Peoria – The IceHogs made the trek down to Peoria for the final time in 2011-12. The game didn’t start off that great for the visitors. They were forced to play shorthanded early on as forward Marc-Olivier Vallerand left the game with an upper body injury–although he did draw a Mark Cundari roughing penalty out of that–and then center Peter LeBlanc left the game for a couple of minutes after he took a puck to the face. At 13:49, Rivermen captain Adam Cracknell went to the front of the net and tipped in newcomer Patrick O’Sullivan’s shot to give the home team the lead. The Rivs almost made it 2-0 due to a terrible turnover right in the slot by Simon Danis-Pepin. But goaltender Carter Hutton bailed him out and made a nice blocker save. Jeremy Morin single-handedly gave Rockford a five-on-three power play in the second period as he drew a tripping penalty at 11:14 and then an interference call 28 seconds later. The 20-year-old almost evened things up towards the end of the power play as he had a golden opportunity to fire a one-timer home from the left circle, but his stick snapped and he couldn’t get the shot off. LeBlanc, who returned not long after Cracknell’s goal, tied the game at 2:53 of the third period as he tipped in a Ryan Stanton shot from the point. With just over two minutes to play, and overtime looming, Ben Youds was the hero for Rockford. His shot from the right point founds its way by Rivs goalie Jake Allen for his fourth tally of the year and to give the Hogs the 2-1 lead, which they were able to hang on to, despite pressure from Peoria late when they pulled Allen for the sixth attacker.
-Rockford outshot Peoria 32-25.
-The Hogs weren’t able to convert on their three power plays whereas the Rivs tallied on one of their four chances.
-The power play units from Saturday night were:
Morin – Brandon Pirri – Paul Zanette
Matt Fornataro – Brian Fahey
Ben Smith – LeBlanc – Rostislav Olesz
Chris DiDomenico – Youds
During the five-on-three power play in the second, head coach Ted Dent decided to use five forwards instead of having at least one defenseman out there. The five were: LeBlanc, Smith, and Morin with Pirri and Olesz on the points.
-Stanton and Youds were both +2. Stanton also tallied two assists in the contest.
-LeBlanc fired 10 shots on goal, which obviously led the Hogs, and was a season high amount of shots in a single game for any player on the roster.
-The scratches were: Kyle Beach (shoulder), Rob Flick, and Philippe Paradis (healthy).
-Hutton started his sixth consecutive game in net for Rockford.
-Lines and D pairs:
Smith – Pirri – Fornataro
Olesz – LeBlanc – Morin
Wade Brookbank – Byron Froese – Zanette
Vallerand – DiDomenico – Brandon Svendsen
Stanton – Youds
Joe Lavin – Brian Fahey
Danis-Pepin – Shawn Lalonde
-The Blackhawks announced today that forward Ben Smith is done for the season as he will have surgery. Here’s the official release from the Hawks’ site. This is a huge blow for the IceHogs as they’re now going to be without one of their top six forwards as they make that push for the playoffs.
-IceHogs goaltender Carter Hutton was named the AHL player of the week for week 22. Hutts put up some huge numbers, including a save percentage of .963 and a goals against average of 1.30. He also helped the Hogs go 2-0-0-1 and claim 5 of 6 points in that stretch. This is the second time this season that Hutton has been player of the week, and the only Hog so far.
-The IceHogs announced their clear day roster on Tuesday. Forwards Jimmy Hayes, Andrew Shaw, and defenseman Dylan Olsen were not included on the roster, meaning they’re going to be up on the Blackhawks for the rest of the season. See who made it and who was left off here.
-For all you loyal Hog Talk listeners out there: there is no show this Monday.
-Here’s a look at 8th-15th in the Western Conference standings:
8th – Houston – 58 GP – 27-19-3-9 – 66 points
9th – Rochester – 59 GP – 28-22-6-3 – 65 points
10th – Lake Erie – 60 GP – 30-25-2-3 – 65 points
11th – Milwaukee – 58 GP – 30-24-2-2 – 64 points
12th – Grand Rapids – 57 GP – 25-22-6-4 – 60 points
13th – Rockford – 59 GP – 26-26-2-5 – 59 points
14th – Hamilton – 58 GP – 26-26-1-5 – 58 points
15th – Texas – 58 GP – 26-28-2-2 – 56 points
Saturday, March 10 at Milwaukee at 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, March 11 vs Milwaukee at 5:05 p.m.
Tuesday, March 13 at Oklahoma City at 7:00 p.m.