IceHogs await next playoff foe

Rockford Clips Wings: The Rockford IceHogs are in the semifinals of the UHL Colonial Cup playoffs after finally disposing of the Kalamazoo Wings in the first round, four games to two.

The IceHogs jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the series, but the Wings took it to a sixth game before Rockford won in overtime 4-3 in front of 3,331 at the MetroCentre April 23. Winger Terry Harrison scored the winner at 7:47 of the overtime.

Kalamazoo goalie Joel Martin tried to play the puck behind his net. ’Hogs winger Bruce Watson cut him off and fired a pass to Harrison in front, who buried his first goal of the post-season, sending the MetroCentre crowd into a frenzy.

All didn’t start well for Rockford, however. The Wings jumped out to a 2-0 lead on first-period goals by Shaun Fisher and Daniel Carrier. ’Hog winger Brandon Segal tallied his league-leading seventh goal of the post-season at 17:23 to cut the lead in half, and defenseman Nathan Lutz tied it with his second post-season tally just 50 seconds into the middle frame.

In the third period, Segal scored his second goal on the power play at 12:41 to give Rockford its first lead. It was the third time in the series Segal had a multi-goal game. But the Wings ’Greg Labenski knocked in the equalizer on the power play at 12:41.

Rockford was outshot for the fourth time in the post-season, this time 48-31. Michel Robinson made 45 saves to earn his fourth post-season win. Rockford went 2-for-6 on the power play, while Kalamazoo was 2-for-6.

The IceHogs are the first of four teams to qualify for the semifinals. The UHL will announce their next opponent, dates and times when they are available. For semifinals tickets, call the MetroCentre box office at (815) 968-5222.

The Wings stopped the IceHogs 2-1 in overtime April 22 in Kalamazoo to cut their deficit to 3-2. Mike Manley scored the game-winner at 18:15 of the extra session. J.C. Ruid scored Rockford’s goal.

The Wings, with a late goal by winger Tyler Willis, topped Rockford 2-1 April 20 before 3,117 at the MetroCentre. Lutz scored the 'Hogs only goal in the third period. Rockford outshot Kalamazoo 32-29, but finished the night 0-for-7 on the power play.

Rockford had seven skaters with multi-point games as the IceHogs beat Kalamazoo 6-4 April 19 in front of 2,874 fans at the MetroCentre to take a 3-0 lead. The ’Hogs racked up four power-play goals. Segal had two goals, center Olivier Proulx two, winger Jason Ralph his first of the post-season and center Ruid his first. Rockford had 12 power plays, most in a game in franchise history.

Bacon Bits: Rockford goaltender Michel Robinson and defenseman Nathan Lutz were named UHL First-Team All-Stars, the first IceHogs to receive that honor. Robinson set franchise records for wins (33), shutouts (seven), goals against average (2.27), games (66) and minutes (3,816:35). He also led the UHL in games, minutes and shutouts (tied with Missouri’s Jason Tapp) and was second in wins. Lutz was the only returnee from last season’s IceHogs, and for the second straight season was the team’s top defenseman. In 75 games, he had 14g-25a-46pts and led the club with a plus/minus rating of +30. Lutz’s 14 goals tied the high for UHL defenseman … Earlier, IceHogs defenseman Steve Pelletier of St. Jerome, Quebec, was named to the 2004-05 UHL All-Rookie Team. He is the second IceHogs defenseman ever named to the All-Rookie team, joining former ’Hogs blue-liner Nick Angel from the 2002-03 season. Pelletier was voted to the 2004-05 Pepsi All-Star Game, and was one of only three Rockford skaters to appear in all 80 regular-season games, with a plus/minus rating of +22.

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Eagles Pick Considine: Byron’s Sean Considine, who played free safety for Iowa, was the first pick of the fourth round of the NFL Draft, the 102nd player taken. Philadelphia, with a pick from San Francisco, took the 6-foot, 206-pounder.

A walk-on at Iowa who started his final two seasons, Considine was projected as a first-day pick.

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July 11 Now “The Date”: July 11 now is the target date for the completion of the Rockford RiverHawk’s new ballpark in Loves Park, team President Dave Ciarrachi said April 19.

The previous target date was May 8, but Ciarrachi said the completion will be delayed because of overruns in cost estimates, re-engineering needs and a harsh and wet winter. It means the ’Hawks will play half their season in their old home of Marinelli Field and the second half in the new park.

Excavation and the installation of the sewage system are complete, but soil issues delayed some of the early stages of work, he said. Because the water-table density on the third-base side of the stadium was substantially heavier, 50,000 additional cubic yards of additional fill had to be hauled.

“On top of that, we had weather conditions,” Ciarrachi said. “The county had the roads posted for a month where we couldn’t bring heavy vehicles on them.

“The reality is also that the owners took longer than we should have in getting started, that we took longer in the contracting process than we should have. Because the bids were higher than we had anticipated, we had to re-bid some of those contracts, which is our fault.”

Redesigns have resulted in the addition of 900 box seats and the improved quality of each seat in the stadium, added Ciarrachi.

Berms have been replaced by the seats, bringing the total number of box seats to 3,100. Every fixed seat in the stadium will be of the same quality, with a chairback and armrests, he said.

“We’ve basically improved the ballpark through this process,” Ciarrachi said. “Every seat that we’re selling in the ballpark is a box seat, price dependent on location.

“We also are spending money along with the park district to ensure that Marinelli remains a very capable facility, to keep it at a very high level for the park district, ourselves and our fans,” said Ciarrachi.

The new facility will be the first professional sports venue built in the Rockford area since the stadium structure was built around the pre-existing playing surface at Marinelli Field before the 1988 season.

When the July 11 target date arrives, the RiverHawks will be on their all-star break. After the break, they’re scheduled for a road trip. That means their first game in the new ballpark would be July 21. If that’s the case, the RiverHawks will wind up playing 24 games at Marinelli and 27 at the new ballpark, said WTVO-TV-17.

Ciarrachi said season ticket holders who aren't happy with that arrangement will be offered partial or full reimbursement for their tickets. Sponsors also will be taken care of, he said.

The ’Hawks will have a new grounds crew working on Marinelli and at their new stadium. Mark McCarty has been hired as head groundskeeper and Jeremy Northrup as assistant groundskeeper.

McCarty, 33, is a 2004 graduate of Michigan State University, where he majored in turf management. He came from the Winston-Salem Warthogs of the Class A Carolina League, where he was the assistant groundskeeper. Northrup, 32, is a 2003 graduate of MSU, where he majored in turf management. Northrup, in his first year in baseball, previously has tended golf courses and grass and clay tennis courts. He is a cousin of former Major League player and broadcaster Jim Northrup, who played centerfield for the champion Detroit Tigers in the 1968 World Series.

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Sughroue New Coach: Rockton Hononegah High School named Tim Sughroue its new head football coach on April 20, WTVO-TV-17 first reported.

Sughroue, 38, replaces Steve Stromquist, who resigned in December after 13 seasons, a 76-51 record and five playoff appearances. Sughroue served as an assistant and head sophomore football coach for 15 years at Hononegah. He teaches math and heads the Math Department at the school and was honored April 21 as a Golden Apple Award winner.

Sughroue is a 1985 Hononegah graduate who was a linebacker for Beloit College in the late 1980s. He got his master’s and administrative degrees from National-Louis University and Northern Illinois University, returning to his alm

a mater for a full-time teaching position in 1990.

He was an assistant varsity coach at Hononegah for nine seasons before taking over the sophomore team in 2002. He led the sophomores to a 19-8 record the past three years. He is married (Lisa) and has a daughter, Alexa (12) and a son, Ryan (9).

“It was nice we were able to stay in-house,” Hononegah athletic director Mike Miller was quoted by the local daily (Miller also is a Hononegah grad). “Obviously, the kids already know him. He’s a very high energy guy who loves Hononegah.”

“This is a dream job,” Sughroue said. “It’s a great place to be. Our athletic program is just super, and we just want to improve on that.

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Third No-Hitter: Junior pitcher Jessica Zammuto (Roscoe/Hononegah H.S./Rock Valley College) tossed her third no-hitter of the season April 17, stopping Mt. Mary of Milwaukee 10-0 in a five-inning game.

Her previous no-hitters were April 11, 1-0 over Concordia (Wis.), and March 29, 2-0 over Wisconsin Lutheran College.

In her latest effort, she faced 16 batters (one more than the minimum), striking out 11 and walking one to raise her record to 10-4.

IceHogs playoff results

Game 1: Rockford 3, Kalamazoo 0, at Kalamazoo April 15.

Game 2: Rockford 5, Kalamazoo 1, at Kalamazoo April 16.

Game 3: Rockford 6, Kalamazoo 4, at Rockford April 19.

Game 4: Kalamazoo 2, Rockford 1, at Rockford April 20.

Game 5: Kalamazoo 2, Rockford 1 (OT), at Kalamazoo April 22.

Game 6: Rockford 4, Kalamazoo 3 (OT), at Rockford April 23.

Rockford wins series, 4 games to 2.

From the April 27-May 3, 2005 issue

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