Rockford, Ill. – The Rockford IceHogs are in the midst of a season-long seven-game homestand. Two games into the run, Rockford is still looking for its first home win.
The IceHogs host the Chicago Wolves Friday night, then take on the Belleville Senators at the BMO Center Saturday. Despite a rough start, Rockford coach Anders Sorensen was upbeat about his club in practice this week.
“There are some things we’ve got to clean up,” Sorensen said this week at the team’s media day. “Once we do that, I think we’re a really good team in there.”
The IceHogs offense has had trouble getting up and running, but Sorensen is not worried.
“It’s early in the season and we feel good about our group in there,” he said. “If you look at the underlying numbers, of high dangerous scoring chances, we were right there in every game.”
Following Chicago Blackhawks trades with the Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers, Rockford said goodbye to defenseman Nicolas Beaudin and forward Evan Barratt. The Blackhawks assigned their new acquisitions, forward Cameron Hillis and defenseman Cooper Zech, to the IceHogs on Wednesday.
Rookie forward Cole Guttman is currently in concussion protocol dating back to an injury suffered October 15. Guttman isn’t likely to skate this weekend.
- Rockford (1-3) has lost three straight since winning its opening game in Manitoba. This puts them in sixth place in the Central Division
- The Wolves (2-2) defeated Rockford 4-1 at the BMO Center in the first meeting between the Central Division rivals. Chicago has won two in a row coming off a 3-1 victory over the Texas Stars on Tuesday and is in fourth place in the division standings.
- The IceHogs’ nine goals this season are split between four players; Brett Seney (3), Luke Philp (3), Lukas Reichel (2), and David Gust (1). Reichel (2 G, 4 A) leads the IceHogs with six points on the season. Rockford needs to get more players into the scoring column. At the top of that list are veterans like Dylan Sikura and Buddy Robinson.
- In contrast to Rockford, the Wolves have 11 goals, potted by nine different players. William Lagesson and Vasily Ponomarev lead the club with two goals apiece. Four different players hit twine for Chicago in the win against the Hogs.
- Last season, getting goals from the defense was a big problem early in the season. No one on Rockford’s blueline has lit the lamp in these first two weeks of action. Adam Clendening does have a pair of assists.
- Another issue for the Hogs is the special teams play. The power play has a single goal in 16 attempts. In 16 shorthanded sessions, Rockford has surrendered five goals, including two to the Wolves last Saturday.
- Belleville (3-2-1) is on top of the AHL’s North Division with seven points. The Senators’ last action came Wednesday in a 3-2 win in Laval.
- Rockford has had just two previous meetings with Belleville. Both games came in the shortened 2019-20 campaign. The Senators won each game, 5-2 in Belleville December 13 and 3-0 in Rockford on January 20.
- Belleville is ninth in the AHL with a 3.67 goals per game average, while Rockford is limping along with a 2.25 goal rate. Only the Iowa Wild have been more inept than the Hogs on offense and on the power play.
- Penalties against the Senators are ill-advised; Belleville is sixth in the AHL with a 28.1 percent success rate on the power play. They also kill penalties well, at 85.2 percent.
- Rourke Chartier leads Belleville with three goals, while Jake Lucchini (2 G, 7 A) paces the Senators with nine points.
Both Friday and Saturday’s tilts at the BMO Center are set to start at 7:00 p.m. CDT.
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