The IceHogs only had two games on their slate for week 24 and they were back-to-back games north of the border in beautiful British Columbia.
Friday, March 22 at Abbotsford – The IceHogs needed to grab two points on Friday night to get closer to being in the top eight spots in the Western Conference points standings, and they did just that. They got off to a great start with forward Brandon Svendsen’s second goal of the season at 7:23 of the first period. With ten seconds left in the opening frame, IceHogs captain Martin St. Pierre tallied his 21st goal on the 2012-13 campaign to extend the Rockford lead to 2-0.
Newcomer to Rockford/veteran blueliner Steve Montador chipped in on the scoresheet at 2:11 of the second period with a power play goal to give the Hogs a three goal cushion. The Rockford train kept rolling at 9:22 of the period when Brad Mills was awarded a penalty shot while the Hogs were shorthanded. Mills was able to convert for the IceHogs’ first penalty shot goal in five attempts this season. The goal also gave Rockford a four goal lead. Hogs netminder Henrik Karlsson’s shutout was broken at 13:13 of the period with a shorthanded goal by Heat center Carter Bancks. Greg Nemisz tallied for Abbotsford with 36 seconds remaining in the period to cut the Rockford lead to two goals.
In the third period, Hogs forward Rostislav Olesz tallied in his first game of the season with just under six minutes remaining to make it 5-2 and to help give Rockford a big win and a two game winning streak.
-Abbotsford outshot Rockford 35-26.
-The IceHogs went 1-for-4 on the power play and killed off all three Heat man advantages.
-IceHogs forward Brad Mills led the team with four shots on goal.
-The three stars were: 1 – Henrik Karlsson (33 saves) 2 – Martin St. Pierre (1 G, 2 A, +2, 2 SOG) 3 – Carter Bancks (1 G, +1, 2 SOG).
-Blackhawks prospect and IceHogs forward Joakim Nordstrom made his AHL debut on Friday night. He’s wearing No. 32 for Rockford.
-IceHogs forward Mathieu Beaudoin registered his 150th AHL point with his assist on Brandon Svendsen’s first period tally.
-IceHogs captain Martin St. Pierre became the IceHogs’ leader for power play assists in the AHL era with his helper on Steve Montador’s power play goal.
-In the AHL era, the IceHogs have had 18 penalty shots, and have only converted on three of them.
-The IceHogs scratches were: Philippe Paradis (upper body), Jeremy Morin, Wade Brookbank, Shawn Lalonde and Kenndal McArdle (all suspended).
Saturday, March 23 at Abbotsford – Like the night before, the IceHogs needed to take two more points from Abbotsford to keep them in a good position in the Western Conference standings. Unlike the night before, the first period was a scoreless affair and Abbotsford opened up the scoring with Ben Walter’s 13th goal of the season at 11:49 of the second period. The Heat extended their lead to 2-0 with a tally from Tyler Ruegsegger with less than two minutes remaining in the frame.
Rockford began mounting a comeback in the third period. It was started by Brandon Pirri’s power play marker at 4:27 after he put home a Jeremy Morin rebound. Less than four minutes later, Ben Smith got on the board and tied the game up with his 19th goal of the season. The Heat deflated the Rockford balloon for a brief moment at 15:35 when Sven Baertschi gave Abbotsford the lead back with his eighth marker of the year. With a minute and five seconds left in regulation, the Hogs found themselves on the power play as Ben Street took a seat for holding. The number one ranked power play in the AHL came through with a Rostislav Olesz tally with ten seconds left on the clock to tie the game at three. This sent the game into overtime. Unfortunately for Rockford, Roman Horak scored the game winner for Abbotsford at the 2:17 mark. Despite not getting the two points, it was great for Rockford that they were able to battle back and at least salvage a point out of this contest.
-Rockford outshot Abbotsford 42-25.
-The IceHogs went 2-for-4 on the power play and killed off the lone man advantage that the Heat had during this tilt.
-Center Brandon Pirri led the IceHogs with seven shots on goal.
–Henrik Karlsson was in net again for Rockford.
-The three stars were: 1 – Danny Taylor (39 saves) 2 – Roman Horak (GWG, +1, 1 SOG, 2 PIMS) 3 – Brandon Pirri (1 G, 1 A, -1, 7 SOG).
–Brandon Pirri and Ben Smith both played in their 150th AHL games on Saturday. Pirri also registered his 100th pro assist on Smith’s goal in the third period.
-The power play units that the IceHogs used were:
Jeremy Morin – Brandon Pirri – Ben Smith
Brad Mills – Shawn Lalonde
Kyle Beach – Martin St. Pierre – Rostislav Olesz
Steve Montador – Adam Clendening
-Some of the penalty killers that the IceHogs used were: Ben Smith, Mathieu Beaudoin, Klas Dahlbeck and Steve Montador; Brad Mills, Brandon Svendsen, Dylan Olsen and Ryan Stanton; Brandon Pirri, Kenndal McArdle, Shawn Lalonde and Dylan Olsen.
-The scratches were: Philippe Paradis (upper body), Joe Lavin, Wade Brookbank, Terry Broadhurst and Rob Flick (all healthy).
-The lines and D pairs were:
Ben Smith – Brandon Pirri – Brad Mills
Rostislav Olesz – Martin St. Pierre – Jeremy Morin
Kenndal McArdle – Byron Froese – Kyle Beach
Mathieu Beaudoin – Joakim Nordstrom – Brandon Svendsen
Ryan Stanton – Adam Clendening
Dylan Olsen – Shawn Lalonde
Klas Dahlbeck – Steve Montador
–Check out IceHogs forward Terry Broadhurst’s interview on the Stone and Double T show on WXRX in Rockford.
-The IceHogs now have a record of 33-28-2-1 (69 points). They are tied for third in the Midwest Division with Chicago. The Wolves hold the spot since they have two games in-hand. In the Western Conference standings, the Hogs are in a four-way tie for eighth place, which is the final playoff spot. They are tied with the Wolves, Oklahoma City and Abbotsford. As a result, the Hogs are slotted in the tenth spot.
Wednesday, March 27 vs. Toronto at 7:05 p.m.
Friday, March 29 vs. Milwaukee at 7:05 p.m.
Saturday, March 30 vs. Oklahoma City at 7:05 p.m.
Tuesday, April 2 vs. Milwaukee at 7:05 p.m.
**Notice this is a HUGE four game homestand for Rockford…