Rockford, Ill. – The Rockford IceHogs resume the 2022-23 season with a big weekend series with the Milwaukee Admirals. The Central Division clash begins Friday night in Milwaukee. On Saturday, the Hogs play host to the second-place Admirals at the BMO Center.
IceHogs coach Anders Sorensen believes his club is set to pick up where they left off last weekend, when they swept the Iowa Wild. Despite having a few days off to relax and recharge, Sorensen was impressed when the team returned to prepare for the Admirals.
“I thought they looked really good today in practice,” Sorensen told Hogs broadcaster Mike Folta Thursday at the team’s weekly media session. “They looked sharp, so I think they’re ready to go.”
After dropping seven straight in the last three weeks of January, Rockford took three straight games to enter the All-Star break on a high note. Still, Sorensen doesn’t believe that there was a huge difference in the way his team performed, win or lose.
“I think that we got some bounces, and we got timely goals,” he said. “We got the short-handed goal here at the last game, we were down 1-0, it was a huge one. I think it’s more randomness at times in the game that kind of puts you in one way or the other. I think that some of the things we were doing even in that stretch where we weren’t winning, we did some good things.”
Sorensen went on to expound on some of that strong play over the past three games.
“Carson (Gicewicz)‘s line, there, whatever you want to call it, the fourth line, I thought they played well. Arvid (Soderblom) obviously, got back on track, got some wins under his belt. Feeling good about him. The power play scoring a big goal there in the last game to tie. It was big for them,” Sorensen pointed out. “Overall, I think a lot of guys pulled on the same rope, which is the big thing here.”
Soderblom has started each of Rockford’s last six games. He surrendered five goals in the first two periods in an 8-4 loss at Milwaukee in the teams’ last meeting. However, Sorensen doesn’t seem hesitant about sending him back out against the Admirals.
“Right now, it’s Arvid’s net until something changes,” he said.
Rockford (23-16-4-2) is just three points behind Milwaukee (26-15-1-2) in the Central Division standings. The Admirals have won three of the five meetings in this season’s series and are also coming off of a weekend sweep, having bested the Manitoba Moose twice before the All-Star break. Rockford has yet to beat Milwaukee at UW-Panther Arena in three tries.
Rookie goalie Yaroslav Askarov has led the way for the Admirals. Askarov is 3-0-1 against the IceHogs this season. Milwaukee’s top two goal scorers, Kiefer Sherwood (20 G, 13 A) and Cole Schneider (16 G, 12 A), have been large thorns in Rockford’s side. Sherwood picked up a hat trick in Milwaukee’s win on January 27 and has four goals against Rockford this season. Sherwood has five goals of his own against the IceHogs.
Rockford’s Dylan Sikura (10 G, 14 A) also has five goals in this series, including a pair in the IceHogs’ 6-4 win on November 25. Lukas Reichel (15 G, 26 A) accounted for all of Rockford’s offense in a 2-1 shootout victory over Milwaukee at the BMO Center on December 7. The IceHogs top scorer, David Gust (21 G, 24 A), has also played well against the Admirals, with four goals in the season series.
The IceHogs will need to be at the top of their game in order to compete with the Admirals in this home-and-home weekend.
“Milwaukee’s a great team. They’re a structured team, so we’ve got to be structured as well and play hard,” said rookie forward Cole Guttman. “Just got to play that playoff-style hockey right from the get-go.”
The action in both Friday’s game in Milwaukee and Saturday’s puck drop in Rockford is set to begin at 7:00 p.m. CDT.
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