The Rockford IceHogs had another week over .500%, keeping themselves in playoff position, although only narrowly, as the AHL season enters the final stretch. Rockford also welcomed back one of their key players late in the week, as well as a new face to the club.
Friday, January 31st @ Rochester Americans
The IceHogs kicked off Week 17 with a rare game in New York, facing a Rochester Americans squad that was at the Spengler Cup in Switzerland exactly one month before. After an evenly matched first period, the Amerks took over, scoring three goals in 10 minutes, ending the period with a commanding lead. After Kevin Sundher added to the Amerks’ total, Philip Lefebvre scored, but that was as close as the ‘Hogs would come, as they lost 4-1. Jason LaBarbera made 29 saves in the loss, while Alex Broadhurst had an assist and a +1 rating.
Saturday, February 1st @ Utica Comets
The ‘Hogs kicked off February with a visit to the worst team in the Western Conference, the Utica Comets. 28 seconds into the game, Utica took the lead, but Pat Mullane would tie the score just 90 seconds later. Brandon Mashinter would score his sixth of the season in the second period, and it would stand as the game-winner, as Rockford took it 2-1. Kent Simpson made a great 34-save performance for his first win since January 10th, picking up the game’s First Star along the way.
Tuesday, February 4th vs. Hamilton Bulldogs
The IceHogs welcomed the slumping Bulldogs into the BMO Harris Bank Center to close out their two-game season series, as well as the week. Terry Broadhurst got the game started with the only goal of the first period, and Rockford would jump out to a 2-0 lead in the second with Joakim Nordstrom‘s 14th of the season. The teams would trade goals late in the second, and then again early in the first, before Hamilton tied the game 4-4 with two unanswered goals. Mark McNeill scored the game-winner with just over four minutes to go, and Mashinter added his second of the game, and third of the week, into the empty net to seal the deal, a 6-4 ‘Hogs win. LaBarbera made 21 saves and even recorded an assist as he made his return to the crease. The game saw 44 minutes of penalties handed out, and 10 goals in total scored.
A Blackhawks trade on Thursday night saw former New York Islander Peter Regin make his way to the IceHogs roster, along with Brandon Pirri, who has played 16 games for Rockford already this season. Pirri was recalled by Chicago on the 26th of January.
The IceHogs have a pair of home games on the weekend of Week 18, starting with the Iowa Wild on Saturday in a four-point divisional game, and a rematch against the Utica Comets on Sunday.
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