The Rockford IceHogs entered Week Two of the 2013-14 AHL season with a win and a loss each, in the first two games of their season-opening five game roadtrip. The ‘Hogs had five days off between their second and third games of the year, a trip to the Quicken Loans arena to face the Lake Erie Monsters.
Antti Raanta returned to the ‘Hogs lineup after leaving just five minutes into their season-opener with discomfort. He wasn’t tested early, as the IceHogs dominated play in the first 10 minutes. Just over a minute into the game, Adam Clendening scored his second goal of the season, as Rockford jumped out ahead. They didn’t lean off the gas there, scoring again at 4:26 and 7:48, and held a 3-0 lead before 10 minutes had passed in the game. Adding two more in the second period gave the Piggies 5 unanswered goals, before Lake Erie put two in the net early in the third. That is as close as the Monsters would get, however, as Raanta made 20 saves on the way to his first AHL win. Brandon Piiri led the way offensively with two assists and five shots, and Drew Leblanc picked up the first star nod with two goals.
The ‘Hogs weren’t going anywhere after their 5-2 win, as they faced the Monsters the next night as well. This time, the Monsters were the ones taking control early, with a Karl Stollery goal just 3:17 into the contest. They would go on to score four unanswered, before Brad Mills netted his second of the year 3:18 into the third. Rockford struggled for offense in this one, and the lone goal would be all they could muster, eventually falling by the score of 5-1. Jared Nightengale had 10 penalty minutes, and no IceHogs player had a positive plus/minus rating after the game. Mills had 3 shots to go along with his goal, but was still a -1 on the day. Raanta made 31 saves on 35 shots, as the Monsters added an empty netter.
The action off the ice was also plentiful during the week. Brandon Pirri got the call up to the Blackhawks roster on the 11th, and Jimmy Hayes returned in his place. Pirri scored his first NHL goal on Thursday night against the Blues, while Hayes had no points in Rockford’s second game against the Monsters. Defenseman Bobby Shea was also sent to Toledo from Reading.
The IceHogs wrap up their road-trip Friday Night against their rival Chicago Wolves, in the first game of the Illinois Lottery Cup season series. Saturday night will mark the return of the IceHogs to the BMO Harris Bank Arena, after finishing renovations caused them to hit the road for the start of the year. It will be a tough test, facing the defending champion Grand Rapids Griffins. They won’t be home for long, however, before they head up north for road games against the Hamilton Bulldogs and Toronto Marlies.
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