Just as the Chicago Blackhawks did on the first of October, their AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs, kicked off their 2013-14 season this week. The ‘Hogs only played two games in the last seven days, kicking off their season with two road games down in Texas. The IceHogs also made some minor roster moves to coincide with the beginning of the year.
In Game One of the season, the IceHogs met up with a defense-first team in San Antonio. Antti Raanta got his first North American Professional start, but it was short-lived, as he left just over five minutes into the game with soreness, after stopping all four shots he faced. Second-year goaltender Kent Simpson filled in, and his brilliant performance wasn’t enough to backstop the IceHogs. The Rampage got the slow-moving game going early in the second with a goal, and Rockford equalized just as fast in the third. The Rampage added one more halfway through the frame, and an empty-netter sealed the deal. The Rampage’s 3-1 win was in spite of an unbelievable effort by Simpson, who stopped 49 of the 51 shots he faced, in a game he did not expect to play in.
The very next day, the ‘Hogs were at it again, this time taking on the Texas Stars. Simpson got the start this time, as Raanta was getting some rest, and he played solid once again. The ‘Hogs were badly out-shot in this contest, but managed to convert on what little opportunities they had, coming back from 2-0 down and ending the first period with goals from Jeremy Morin and Adam Clendening. Klas Dahlbeck added his first for three unanswered Rockford goals, but the Stars tied it up just a minute later. Mark McNeil took it from there, scoring the game-winner, as the ‘Hogs dodged a ferocious attack in the third by Texas for the win. Simpson got his first AHL win in the game, with a save total in the forties again.
Antti Raanta’s setback called for goaltending depth, and Mac Carruth was called up for the remainder of the week. Carruth is now back with the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL, after dressing in Saturday night’s win.
Rockford’s next action is tonight, when they visit the Lake Erie Monsters, continuing their season-opening road trip as renovations to their home rink, the BMO Harris Bank Center, are completing. They take on bitter rival Chicago, before heading back to Rockford for the home opener, next Friday.
Check back next week to see what’s going down on the farm in week #2!
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