The Rockford IceHogs had already finished Week 16 of the AHL schedule by Sunday night, but three games in three nights, and two different arenas, earned their work-week off. The ‘Hogs had to say goodbye to one of their best players, however, putting a damper on an otherwise good week.
Friday, January 24th @ Milwaukee Admirals
The IceHogs kicked off a key divisional triple-header with the Milwaukee Admirals on Friday night, the first of two games in Milwaukee. Rockford’s Mark McNeill would have the lone goal of the first period, but three straight goals by the Admirals put the game away with 10 minutes left in the third period. Brandon Pirri scored short-handed to pull the ‘Hogs within one, but a 6-on-4 power-play with three minutes left proved fruitless. Kent Simpson stopped 33 of 36 in the loss.
Saturday, January 25th vs. Milwaukee Admirals
The teams traveled down the road to the BMO Harris Bank Center for the IceHogs’ annual Pink The Rink night in support of breast cancer. The away team would score the first goal once again, but a Rockford goal in each of the following periods sealed a 2-1 win. Brandon Mashinter earned his fifth goal of the season (second game-winner), as Jason LaBarbera made 26 saves on 27 shots for the win. Pirri had an assist on both goals, as all three ‘Hogs landed inside the Three Stars.
Sunday, January 26th vs. Milwaukee Admirals
It was up the road again as the teams finished a busy weekend with the rubber-match in Milwaukee. The teams would trade goals in the first period, but Milwaukee jumped ahead in the middle frame with two straight goals, ending period two with a 3-1 lead despite being out-shot 30-20 at that point. Rockford would start putting the puck in the net in the third, however, as Jeremy Morin scored twice, just 23 seconds apart, sending the game to over-time. It was captain Adam Clendening who sealed the victory with 21 seconds to go in extra time, giving Rockford four points on the weekend. LaBarbera made 25 saves, while Morin was the game’s First Star with two goals and seven shots.
The IceHogs bid farewell to Brandon Pirri, who was called up by the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday. Pirri would need to be waived to be sent down again, so the ‘Hogs will not see him for the rest of the season at least. Pirri had four goals, 13 points, and 6 PIMS in 16 games with Rockford in two separate stints this season.
Rockford also signed 30-year old free agent Brett Skinner to a Pro Tryout Offer on Monday. Skinner, who signed a PTO with Rockford in Week 8, has played in 11 games in his NHL career since being drafted by the Vancouver Canucks back in 2002.
The IceHogs will start Week 17 on the road, taking on the Rochester Americans and Utica Comets on Friday and Saturday, respectively. The team will then return to Rockford for a battle with the Hamilton Bulldogs on Tuesday to close out the week.
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