ROCKFORD, Ill. – The Rockford IceHogs didn’t have an answer for the Iowa Wild offense this past weekend. The Blackhawks AHL franchise lost back-to-back games to the Wild at Wells Fargo Arena.
Rockford led Friday’s affair twice before being snowed under by a four-goal middle frame by Iowa. The Wild outshot the Hogs 53-19 while pulling away to win 6-3. In Saturday’s rematch, Rockford fell behind by three goals and dropped a 5-2 decision to Iowa.
As a result of the two losses, the piglets fall to the bottom of the Central Division standings, with the Wild soaring to the top. The IceHogs are 1-3 on the young season.
On Saturday, after posting a goal and an assist against Iowa the night before, the Blackhawks recalled forward Reese Johnson, who looked good in his first three games with Rockford. His time with the Blackhawks showed on the ice; Johnson has been a leader despite not being much older than the rookies.
Johnson also showed the desire to plant himself in front of opposing goalies and hold his ground against defenders. His goal Friday was a tip-in from the front of the net.
On Sunday, defenseman Ian Mitchell was recalled by Chicago in time to take part in that night’s game with the Red Wings. Mitchell was scoreless with a minus-four rating in two games with the Hogs.
- Rockford coach Derek King has tried several combinations early in the season. However, he has been reasonably consistent with having Lucas Reichel center Alexander Nylander and Brett Connolly. The Hogs have a potentially standout line for the time being. Reichel leads the team with four points (2G, 2A) and had points in both games this weekend.
- Nylander has looked very good returning from a knee injury, pacing the IceHogs with three goals. He has also looked good at both ends of the ice.
- Jakub Pour has shown some scoring touch. The 22-year-old Hawks prospect picked up a goal and an assist Friday night, then lit the lamp again in Saturday’s loss.
- Evan Barratt was in the lineup for both games this weekend. However, he was not on the bench for the third period of Saturday night’s contest.
- Chad Krys did not make the trip to Iowa. He may be missing some extended time after suffering a knee injury on October 16 in Chicago. Fellow defenseman Alec Regula is still working out some back issues that have kept him out of action for several weeks.
- Several of Rockford’s AHL contracts saw their first action in Des Moines this weekend. Forward Dylan McLaughlin was in for both games, picking up an assist Saturday. Defenseman Cliff Watson played both nights, assisting on Johnson’s goal Friday. Forward D.J. Busdeker also drew into the lineup Saturday, making his season debut.
- In lieu of Johnson, who was one of Rockford’s alternate captains until his recall, Connolly donned the “A” on Saturday.
- No IceHogs defenseman has tickled twine in the first two weeks of action. Issak Phillips leads the defense with two assists. Phillips is seeing a lot of time in the top two pairings so far this season, with several blueliners on the shelf in Rockford and Chicago. His plus-two skater rating through four games leads the club.
- Mitchell skated both games this weekend before his recall to Chicago. He was considerably less noticeable than Phillips.
- Andrei Altybarmakian was able to showcase his game with a thinner prospect pool last season. He’s been relegated to bottom-six duty in most of his three games this month. He did some nice work on the end boards with McLaughlin to set up Pour’s goal Saturday night.
- The Hogs power play went 1-10 over the weekend. Rockford’s man-advantage units are hitting at a paltry 6.7 success rate. They’ve allowed more shorthanded goals (two) than they have scored (one).
- The penalty kill isn’t faring much better. Iowa was 2-4 on Saturday after the IceHogs stopped all four Wild chances the evening before. Overall, Rockford’s kill rate is near the bottom of the AHL, at 68.4 percent.
Rockford wraps up this six-game road trip to open the season in the Lone Star State with two games this week against the Texas Stars. Rockford will play in Cedar Park Thursday and Saturday. Both games get underway at 7:00 p.m. Central time.
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