By Todd Reicher
Rockford had a chance to gain ground on the first-place Chicago Wolves and further distance themselves from the third-place Texas Stars last weekend (March 19-21), but the cards did not fall in the ’Hogs favor.
Friday, March 19, the ’Hogs’ hosted the Peoria Rivermen in a game that pitted former teammates against one another. Previous ’Hogs Daryl Boyle and Joe Fallon suited up for the Rivermen, and Danny Richmond and Hannu Toivoinen donned the ’Hogs’ sweaters. This was Toivoinen’s first home game for the ’Hogs and Fallon’s first game in Rockford playing on an opposing team.
This night was marked from start to finish with ex-players from both teams making noteworthy plays. Both goalies fared well against their previous teams as Fallon saved 28 of 29 shots and Toivoinen stopped 29 of 31.
When asked about facing his previous team, Toivoinen said: “Playing against your former team is always a special opportunity. Obviously, a little disappointed that we didn’t get the outcome that we wanted.”
Peoria tallied the first goal when Ryan Reaves grabbed a rebound let out by Toivoinen and pitched it past the ’Hogs’ netminder.
Rob Klinkhammer evened the score for the ’Hogs later in the first. Richard Petiot played a shot from the left blue line, which Fallon initially fought off, only to have Klinkhammer grab the loose change and put it by Fallon. The power play goal knotted the teams at 1 at the end of the first.
Peoria tallied the only goal in the second stanza, when Boyle got back at his previous team by marking his sixth goal of the season.
Rockford tried valiantly to even the score, but Fallon fended off all 10 shots in the third period. A little salt was poured into the ’Hogs’ wounds as another former player, Pascal Pelletier, found the empty net with 9 seconds left in the game, sealing the Rivermen’s victory, 3-1.
Saturday’s game did not start off as the ’Hogs planned. Just less than 1 minute into the game, Mathieu Beaduoin scored by spinning around from just outside the face-off circle, beating Corey Crawford over his near-side shoulder.
Texas increased their lead to 2-0 when Perttu Lindgren got one past Crawford.
Brent Krahn stopped all 14 shots he faced in the third period (29 overall) en route to a shutout for the Stars. The shutout was the fourth suffered by the ’Hogs this year, and the second time by the Stars this season. “They play a smart defensive game,” Petiot stated.
Rockford’s offense struggled this weekend, only scoring one goal in two games. If the ’Hogs wish to hold on to that second-place standing in the division, the team needs to figure out how to put more points on the board.
One bright spot from this weekend’s games was 20-year-old defensive prospect Shawn LaLonde. A third-round draft pick by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2008 (and 68th overall), LaLonde was in the starting line-up both nights, and proved to any doubters that he is ready for the next step. After commencing his fourth season this year with the Belleville Bulls of the OHL (Ontario Hockey League), LaLonde was eligible to play for the team in which he was drafted. While playing for the Bulls this year, LaLonde amassed 56 points in 58 games (13 goals, 48 assists), and for his career at Belleville, LaLonde totals 248 games, scoring 167 points (47 goals, 120 assists). It appears LaLonde will be playing for the ’Hogs next year and will definitely be a player to watch.
Rockford’s next home game is Friday, March 26, as the team faces the Peoria Rivermen at 7:05 p.m. Friday’s game marks the last time the teams will meet in the regular season. The ’Hogs take on the division-leading Chicago Wolves the following night, Saturday, March 27, with puck drop at 7:05 p.m. Saturday’s game marks the team’s annual Jersey Auction Theme night. This year’s theme of Phantom Regiment Hammy will feature the team mascot Hammy Hog dressed up in Phantom Regiment attire, which all players will wear during the game. Every jersey will be auctioned off via a silent auction throughout the game. After the game, the winners will be taken onto the ice where each player will take off their jersey and give it to the auction winner. They will also have their picture taken with the player whose jersey they won, along with an autograph on the jersey.
From the March 24-30, 2010 issue