ROCKFORD, Ill. – The Rockford IceHogs split a pair of games with visiting Cleveland this weekend. Rockford was able to tie a season-high three-game win streak with a 5-2 victory Friday. On Saturday, the Monsters built a three-goal advantage, holding off a furious IceHogs comeback to prevail 5-4.
These were the first two of four meetings between the two clubs. Both games were hotly contested, physical affairs that boiled over on occasion. The Hogs don’t complete the season series in Cleveland until mid-March. That’s probably just as well, as some time apart should soothe some tempers.
The difference in how Rockford fared in the two games can be attributed to the IceHogs play in the defensive end. Friday, Rockford kept the Monsters in check and got a 33-save performance from Arvid Soderblom in his first start for the IceHogs in nearly a month.
In Saturday’s rematch, Cleveland capitalized on several turnovers to build a 5-2 lead in the first 40 minutes. That included a shorthanded goal seconds into the middle frame that put the Hogs on their heels. At the second intermission, Rockford was being outshot 30-16.
“Even yesterday (Friday), I thought we gave up a little too much in general off the rush,” interim coach Anders Sorensen said to the media after Saturday’s loss. “I think that hurt us big time in the first two periods.”
- Lukas Reichel and Brandon Pirri, two of the Hogs’ more prolific scorers of late, did not take part in the action this weekend. Reichel was up with the Blackhawks. Pirri was on personal leave for the Cleveland series (as was IceHogs forward Chad Yetman). Despite this, Rockford was still able to get consistent scoring.
- Dylan McLaughlin is now on a four-game point streak. He had goals in both games this weekend and added a pair of assists in Friday’s win.
- Mike Hardman had a nice weekend in his return to the Hogs, with three points in the two games. He had a shorthanded goal after forcing a turnover on Friday, then added a power-play goal and assist Saturday.
- Two more Rockford skaters picked up their first goals of the 2021-22 campaign. Both came on Saturday night when Dimitri Osipov and Nicolas Beaudin both drew cord.
- Osipov, who is being used as a forward for the first time this season, had one of his better games despite the loss Saturday. He was as involved on the offensive end as he has been all season and still was able to throw his weight around with several big hits.
- Cameron Morrison was banged up late in Friday’s game and was replaced by Kale Howarth in the lineup Saturday.
- Defenseman Alec Regula picked up assists on all four IceHogs goals in Saturday’s loss.
- Collin Delia did not receive the same support in the Hogs zone Saturday as Soderblom had the previous evening. Coming into the contest, Delia was sporting a 1.01 goals against average and a .969 save percentage in his last four starts. However, he found himself struggling to stop the waves of Monsters bearing down on him.
- The Hogs win streak ends at three games, matching a season-high that was set back in December. Rockford has not won four in a row since November 29-December 6 of 2019.
The IceHogs homestand continues Monday, when they take on the Chicago Wolves. Rockford dealt the Central Division leaders an 8-0 pasting at the BMO on January 7.
“We know them,” Sorensen said. “We know what they’re all about. They’re not going to be happy coming in here after what happened last game we played them here. We’ve got to be on our toes. We’ve go to be ready to work for sure.”
It’s a 1:00 p.m. Central time puck drop for the Hogs on Monday as they try to get a new streak going.
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