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Pigs In Zen: That’s More Like It?

Week 14 was much better for the IceHogs than their past 6 games had been. They snapped their winless streak and picked up points in 2 shootouts against Midwest Division opponents. While it wasn’t a sweep of the weekend by any means, it was a decent way to start off 2014.

The IceHogs kicked off the 2014 portion of the season with a home tilt against the Iowa Wild on Friday, January 3rd. After falling behind 1-0 in the 1st period, the IceHogs battled back to take a 2-1 lead in the 3rd period courtesy of tallies from Joakim Nordstrom and Alex Broadhurst. 52 seconds after Broadhurst gave the IceHogs the lead, Iowa tied it back up. That goal sent the game into overtime and then a shootout. The Wild grabbed the extra point and took the game 3-2, giving the IceHogs a 7 game losing streak.

-Rockford outshot Iowa 39-25; Mac Carruth was in net for the IceHogs and Johan Gustafsson was in net for the Wild.

-The IceHogs scored on 1 of their 3 power plays and the Wild scored on 1 of their 4 man advantages.

-Winger Terry Broadhurst led the IceHogs with 7 shots on goal.

-The 3 stars of the game were:  1 – Johan Gustafsson (37 saves) 2 – Brian Connelly (2 A, 2 SOG, 2 PIMs) 3 – Adam Clendening (2 A, +1, 4 SOG, 4 PIMs).

-The scratches for Rockford were:  Brad Mills, Viktor Svedberg, Brandon Mashinter, Brandon Pirri (all injured), Maxim Shalunov and Bobby Shea (both healthy).

-The lines and D pairs for Rockford were:

Garret Ross – Joakim Nordstrom – Jeremy Morin

Brad Winchester – Alex Broadhurst – Mark McNeill

Terry Broadhurst – Phillip Danault – Byron Froese

Pat Mullane – Drew LeBlanc – Philippe Lefebvre

Theo Peckham – Adam Clendening

Klas Dahlbeck – Brett Skinner

Wade Brookbank – Jared Nightingale

The following night, the IceHogs hosted the Grand Rapids Griffins at the BMO Harris Bank Center. The Hogs played very well against the Griffins, especially early on. Before the 5 minute mark of the 2nd period, the Hogs were out to a 3-0 lead. Joakim Nordstrom scored once in the 1st period and then scored on a power play penalty shot 43 seconds into the middle frame. Later, Jeremy Morin added his 7th goal of the season. Grand Rapids made it interesting as they scored twice before the frame ended to bring the score within 1, but the Hogs held on during the 3rd period and added an empty net goal by Garret Ross to make the score 4-2 and snap their winless streak.

-Grand Rapids outshot Rockford 33-30. Jason LaBarbera made his 1st start in net for the IceHogs; the Griffins started Jared Coreau, but he was pulled after Jeremy Morin’s goal in the 2nd in favor of Tom McCollum.

-The IceHogs scored on 1 of their 5 power plays and the Griffins scored on 1 of their 4 man advantages.

-Forward Mark McNeill led the IceHogs with 4 shots on goal.

-The 3 stars of the game were:  1 – Joakim Nordstrom (2 G, 1 A, +3, 4 SOG) 2 – Jason LaBarbera (31 saves) 3 – Riley Sheahan (1 G, -1, 3 SOG).

-The scratches for Rockford were:  Brad Mills, Viktor Svedberg, Brandon Mashinter, Brandon Pirri, Philippe Lefebvre (all injured) and Wade Brookbank (healthy).

-The lines and D pairs for Rockford were:

Garret Ross – Joakim Nordstrom – Jeremy Morin

Pat Mullane – Drew LeBlanc – Terry Broadhurst

Brad Winchester – Alex Broadhurst – Mark McNeill

Maxim Shalunov – Phillip Danault – Byron Froese

Theo Peckham – Adam Clendening

Klas Dahlbeck – Jared Nightingale

Brett Skinner – Bobby Shea

To complete the 3 games in 3 nights stretch, the IceHogs traveled to Rosemont on Sunday to take on the Chicago Wolves at the Allstate Arena. The IceHogs had the lead twice in this contest. Brad Winchester scored a power play goal at 18:09 of the 1st period to give the visitors the lead, but the Wolves tied it up with a power play goal of their own with 31 seconds remaining in the opening frame. At the 2 minute mark of the 2nd period, Pat Mullane scored his 1st AHL goal to give the Hogs the lead back, but 4:40 later, Chicago tied it back up on the power play. 7 seconds after, the Wolves grabbed the 3-2 lead. It looked like the Wolves were going to hang on for the victory in the 3rd period, but with 47 seconds remaining, Mark McNeill tipped home a puck to tie the game at 3 on the power play and send the game into overtime and then a shootout. Despite Garret Ross’ beautiful tally during the 3rd round of the shootout, the Wolves took the victory 4-3.

-Chicago outshot Rockford 37-34; Jason LaBarbera was in net for the IceHogs and Jordan Binnington was in net for the Wolves.

-Both the IceHogs and Wolves scored on 2 of their 3 power plays.

-Forward Brad Winchester led the IceHogs with 7 shots on goal.

-The 3 stars of the game were:  1 – Jason LaBarbera (33 saves) 2 — Jordan Binnington (31 saves) 3 — Sergey Andronov (1 G, 4 SOG).

-The line-up was the same as the night before for the IceHogs.

TRANSACTIONS

Saturday, January 4 – The Blackhawks reassigned goaltender Jason LaBarbera to the IceHogs and reassigned goaltender Mac Carruth to the Toledo Walleye from the IceHogs.

OBSERVATIONS

-Joakim Nordstrom has 11 points (4 G, 7 A) in his last 8 games. 2 of his goals and 4 of his assists in that span have come on the power play and he is also a +4 over that stretch. He has played some great hockey for Rockford lately. He’s used in all situations, whether it’s on the man advantage, the penalty kill, etc.

-Jeremy Morin’s goal on Saturday was his 1st goal since scoring for the Blackhawks on December 5th. It was his 1st AHL goal since November 16th against the San Antonio Rampage. It’s not that he has been playing bad hockey, he just hasn’t had any luck on finishing his chances.  Hopefully for his sake, that goal gives him some confidence to get him out of his scoring funk.

-Mark McNeill’s goal on Sunday was his 1st since December 14th. Overall, McNeill had a good weekend. He was flying around on the ice and being pretty physical.

-Alex Broadhurst’s power play goal on Friday night was his 1st goal since November 15th. Like McNeill, he played well throughout the weekend. He was creating chances and had some more jump in his stride.

-Jason LaBarbera played well in net for Rockford in his 1st 2 starts with the club, which should be expected since he was in the NHL for all those years. Hopefully, his veteran presence in the crease will help the Hogs win a few more games.

-The IceHogs currently have a record of 16-16-3-2 (37 points) and sit in 9th in the Western Conference standings.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR ROCKFORD?

Wednesday, January 8 at Grand Rapids at 6 pm CT

Friday, January 10 vs. Lake Erie at 7 pm

Saturday, January 11 vs. Lake Erie at 7 pm

Wednesday, January 15 vs. Abbotsford at 11 am (No, that is not a typo.)

  • Bob Lanz

    Kim, who is the best dman been the first half of the year, as well as best winger and center and why? Thanks for all you do for Blackhawk nation!

    • kimwrona

      Best d-man, hands down, has been Klas Dahlbeck. He’s been so steady and consistent for the Hogs on the back end all year long. He has also stepped up his offensive game and that’s been great to see. Best winger is kind of a toss up. If you had asked me earlier in the year, I would’ve said McNeill. You could make a case for Winchester as of late. You could toss Morin in there. But I can’t really say anyone definitively. As for center, I would say Nordstrom. He’s been great in all situations, been pretty consistent and reliable, etc. And you’re very welcome; thanks for reading! :)

  • BestPredsForward

    Now that Jason LaBarbera is here, should we temporarily rename “Pigs in Zen” to “Jason LaBarbera’s LeBlanc.com”?

  • BodomSlayer

    Hey Kim, not sure if you read the comments, but I was at Saturday nights game and saw your name on the score board. If that was indeed you then I wanted to say Happy Birthday!

    • kimwrona

      Haha, that was me. Thank you very much! :) Also, agree about Morin. He can sometimes get angry and then start yapping and that can get him in trouble haha. But, yeah, he had a good game–overall–on Saturday. :)

  • BodomSlayer

    I also noticed on Saturday that Morin needs to keep a cool head. However I was impressed with him flying around the ice and noticed him when he was out for most of his shifts.

  • jordyhawk

    Hi Kim. How is Danault doing? He seems to be awfully quiet on the score sheet, but maybe he’s embracing the be-the-next-Kruger assigment he was apparently given. Even though Pirri and Nordstrom seem to be ahead of him, they are both such lightweights you have to wonder if that is going to hold them back. Happy Birthday from me too.

    • kimwrona

      Danault has been very quiet offensively, but his overall game has been fine. IMO, once he scores that next goal, the monkey will probably fall off his back and then he might start putting up a few more points. I wouldn’t worry too much though. He’s young and still developing. :) And thank you very much! :)