Photo by Maggie Avila
While it was not quite the rivalry of Blackhawks/Canucks or Blackhawks/Wings the disdain and
animosity was still apparent. The Rockford IceHogs were finally able to overcome the Chicago Wolves 4-2 in front of a crowd that was just as much IceHogs as Wolves. The three previous tilts all went to the Wolves but on this night the tide turned to the young guns from Rockford.
There were several fights and skirmishes to keep the rivalry alive & healthy, but the highlight of the evening was witnessing the future of the Blackhawks. Goals were scored by Marty St. Pierre, Jeremy Morin and Ben Smith with the Morin and Smith goals coming on the power plays.
The power play on the Morin and Smith goals were run with puck passing precision that would rival and maybe best the big clubs power play. We all know the problems the Blackhawks have had on execution on their power plays fortunately none of that has crept into the Rockford play book.
Who was the engineer of this effective power play you ask? Young Blackhawk prospect Brandon Saad who had a fancy assist on the Morin goal. Saad showcased not only his great on ice awareness and vision but he also demonstrated a take charge leadership that well, is simply something that can not be taught or coached.
Saad started out a little rough when only a couple of minutes into the game he made a mistake in his own zone by turning the puck over right in front of his goalie Carter Hutton who was left at the mercy of Zach Kassian waiting in the slot who buried the puck easily.
The greatest thing about youth is the ability to use mistakes as learning tools and that is exactly what Saad did. He not only made up for the early error but helped put his team ahead of the Wolves with his assists for good.
Saad’s pass to St. Pierre was so perfectly timed as it caught St. Pierre full stride. The pass was a beauty to be sure and speaks to the skill that Saad has. Watching Saad it is apparent his skills with the puck will make him very dangerous in the NHL. His assist on the Morin goal was a blind pass that any NHLer would want in his repertoire.
While there is little good coming from this NHL lockout maybe Saad’s time in Rockford will polish his skills and prepare him even more for the time he is with the Blackhawks. All of the Blackhawks’ prospects can use this time in Rockford to learn. If Saad continues to show that same take charge attitude and puck handling mastery I can guarantee he will be on the Blackhawks for quiet a long time.
Andrew Shaw was back in action as well after a six game suspension. He officially got on the score board with an empty netter but Shaw was flying around the ice all night and getting under the Wolves fur. His determination and ability to disrupt the opposition especially in front of the net is uncanny for someone who is not particularly big. Welcome back Shawzer try to stay on the ice because you are very entertaining.
My understanding is that in attendance at the Allstate Arena were scouts from all of the NHL clubs. They were treated to the future of the NHL and the talent that is up coming on both clubs which has to delight.
It was not Kane to Toews to Sharp but the execution was still pretty and decisive. These kids have some ways to go to get into the same class as those three snipers but, somehow it does not seem out of the realms of possibilities that very soon it will be Saad to Smith to Shaw or vice versa that we hear along with those guys at the United Center. What a treat for all it will be when that day comes.