The Rockford IceHogs had a quick week before heading into the AHL’s Christmas break, with only two games on the schedule. Unfortunately, the pleasantries of the season weren’t around in the Hogs’ dressing room, as they only took one point out of those said games.
Friday, December 20th @ Grand Rapids Griffins The Piggies were up in Michigan for a match-up against the defending Calder Cup Champions, looking to inch closer in the 9-game season series, that the home team held the advantage in, 3-1. After early penalty trouble, Rockford gave up an quick goal in the first period, but Philip Lefebvre evened the score before the period was out. Grand Rapids would score their second power-play goal early in the second stanza, and this time, Rockford would not answer. In the third, Brad Winchester knotted the score at 2, sending the game to overtime. Just 81 seconds into the extra frame, Mitch Callahan of the Griffins scored, winning the game 3-2. Kent Simpson was solid nonetheless, making 32 saves. Lefebvre led the way for Rockford, recording a +1 rating, and firing 4 shots.
Saturday, December 21st vs. Milwaukee Admirals The IceHogs didn’t have time to spare, as the team headed back home to the BMOHarrisBankCenter for a show-down with the bitter rival Admirals. Joakim Nordstrom opened the scoring with his 8th of the season, a lead Rockford held until the final minute of the second period. Milwaukee kept the pressure going off their tying goal, scoring less than a minute into the third period, taking the lead, and extending that margin with a power-play goal half-way through the final period. With Kent Simpson on the bench, the ‘Hogs couldn’t find any light, and fell 3-1. Simpson made 28 saves in his second straight start, while Nordstrom took home Third Star honours.
The IceHogs welcomed back Pat Mullane and Maxim Shulanov on December 21st, after they played one game with the team’s ECHL affiliate, the Toledo Walleye. Both players weren’t available in time for Rockford’s game against the Admirals on that day. The IceHogs also parted ways with journeyman goaltender Allen York, who was on a Pro Tryout Offer with the club. York started in one game for the ‘Hogs, making 35 saves in a 3-1 loss. York’s departure will make Kent Simpson and Mac Carruth Rockford’s goaltending tandem for the time being, until Chicago Blackhawks goalies Corey Crawford and Nikolai Khabibulin return to full health.
The IceHogs kick off the second half of their season on December 26th with a road game against the Iowa Wild, then are back home for games against the Grand Rapids Griffins and Charlotte Checkers on the 27th and 30th, respectively.
As always, thanks for reading. For more Blackhawks conversation, “Like” us on Facebook: Blackhawk Up, and follow us on Twitter: @Blackhawk_Up. Check back each day for pre- and post-game reports, as well as weekly segments, and unique content about the Blackhawks you won’t find anywhere else!