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IceHogs Face Stiff Challenges This Weekend

#AHL | The @goicehogs will face the @TexasStars Friday and @IAWild Saturday. @FPHIceHogs previews what could prove to be a tough weekend for Rockford.

Rockford faces Texas and Iowa this weekend. (Photo by Todd Reicher/Rockford IceHogs)

IceHogs Face Stiff Challenges This Weekend

Rockford, Ill. – The Rockford IceHogs have points in seven of their last ten games but have found wins hard to come by entering this weekend’s action. With just three wins in that span, the IceHogs kick off a tough weekend by hosting the team at the top of the Central Division.

Rockford (23-17-4-4) welcomes the Texas Stars to the BMO Center on Friday night having dropped its last three games. The Hogs fell to the Grand Rapids Griffins 5-4 Wednesday, while the Stars are coming off a road sweep of the Colorado Eagles last weekend.

The Hogs last played the Stars (26-11-6-3) at the BMO Center on January 3, when they beat Texas in a 4-3 overtime thriller. Rockford owns a 4-2 record over Texas in the season series. The Stars have cooled a bit since a 10-0-1 stretch in December. As the AHL’s top offensive club at 3.74 goals per game, the Stars are still capable of scoring goals in bunches on the IceHogs.

Friday’s game may well come down to goaltending. Rockford has been riding Arvid Soderblom to the tune of nine consecutive starts over the last three weeks. Despite giving up five goals to the Griffins Wednesday, he has been making the stops to keep the Hogs in games.

Rookie Matthew Murray is one of the league’s top goalies, with a 2.42 goals against average and a .906 save percentage. Rockford has lit him up for eight goals in a pair of wins. However, the IceHogs have struggled to get pucks by veteran Anton Khudobin, who has both Texas wins over Rockford this season.

 

Wild Matinee

The IceHogs have a rare Saturday night off but find themselves in Iowa for a Sunday afternoon tilt with the Wild, the team right behind them in the division standings. Rockford has found Wells Fargo Arena to be a tough place to play; over the last five seasons, the Wild are 17-5 against the Hogs in Des Moines, 1-3 there this season, and have dropped the last three contests held there.

In nine meetings with Iowa this season, seven have needed overtime or a shootout to decide a winner. The Wild are 6-1-1-1 against the Hogs this season.

Cole Guttman and Brett Seney each have four goals against Iowa this season. Unfortunately for Rockford, both were recalled to the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday, along with defenseman Issak Phillips.

The Wild recently had a hot hand over the last month of play, though a pair of losses in Rockford two weeks ago started their current five-game losing streak. Iowa lost 4-2 to the Manitoba Moose Wednesday and will play them again Friday night before coming home for its date with Rockford.

 

Depth Charge

With two of Rockford’s top scorers missing from the lineup, some of the Hogs’ lower-line players have stepped up their play. Bobby Lynch (6 G, 6 A) had a three-point night in Grand Rapids, with two goals and an assist as Rockford attempted to rally from a 3-0 deficit. Carson Gicewicz (4 G, 2 A) added a goal and an assist Wednesday.

The IceHogs also saw the return of forward Buddy Robinson (9 G, 9 A) to the lineup in Grand Rapids. Robinson had missed 12 games with a right wrist fracture; having him back in the lineup after a month on the mend helps offset the loss of Guttman and Seney.

Rockford celebrates its annual Pride Night with a scheduled 7:00 p.m. CDT puck drop. Sunday’s game in Iowa is slated for a 3:00 p.m. CDT start.

 

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    Jon Fromi covers the Rockford IceHogs for Field Pass Hockey. Follow and interact with him on Twitter @FPHIceHogs.

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