By Todd Reicher
Friday, March 26, the ’Hogs hosted the Peoria Rivermen for the final time in the 2009-2010 regular season. The ’Hogs were hoping to avenge a loss to the Rivermen the previous weekend, when ex-IceHogs goalie Joe Fallon stopped 28 of 29 shots he faced en route to a victory.
Fallon started for the Rivermen once again, but Corey Crawford was between the pipes for Rockford this time.
Rockford would put the first marker on the board when Pete MacArthur beat Fallon with a backhanded shot just more than 2 minutes into the first for the early lead. Mark Cullen, in his first game back after being on the injured reserve list for more than a month, was credited with the assist.
“Getting the first goal tonight changed a lot of aspects of the game,” said winger Danny Bois.
That lead would not last through the remainder of the period as Peoria tallied two goals in the first to take the lead after 20 minutes. Twelve minutes into the first, Cam Paddock was credited with his ninth goal of the season, and 5 minutes later, Adam Cracknell notched his 15th of the year.
The second period started off fast and furious for the ’Hogs when Matt Keith scored just more than 1 minute into the period, tying the score at 2. MacArthur grabbed his second point of the night on the assist, as did Cullen.
Rockford refused to let up. Just 1:34 later, while on the powerplay, the ’Hogs scored again. Rockford’s newest member, Shawn LaLonde, tallied his first AHL point by scoring on a rocket from between the right face-off circle and blue line. Keith had himself positioned in front of Fallon, who didn’t see the blast until it was too late.
The ’Hogs won the subsequent face-off, and quickly moved to the offensive zone. Adam Hobson found Evan Brophey stationed behind the net, who quickly shoveled the puck to a waiting Brian Bickell, who slammed it past Fallon. The two goals were scored just 21 seconds apart, leading to an early departure for Fallon.
Pace was controlled by the ’Hogs for the remainder of the second, and they carried the momentum into the third period. Things got a little more interesting late, as Cracknell scored his second of the evening with just more than 2 minutes left in the game, closing the gap to 4-3. Rockford withstood the onslaught when Peoria pulled their goalie with 90 seconds remaining, and skated away with a much-needed win.
Saturday was a big night for the ’Hogs and the fans: it was Jersey Auction Night, they were playing the rival Chicago Wolves, and 2010 Olympic silver medalist Jinelle Zaugg-Siergiej, a United States women’s hockey team member, was present to drop the puck. A sell-out crowd of 6,122 fans, who were mixed between Wolves and ’Hogs fans, came to support their respective teams.
Rockford fans didn’t have much to cheer about as Chicago’s Matt Anderson beat Crawford 87 seconds into the game to take an early 1-0 lead.
After a Brian Conneley tripping penalty put the Wolves on their second powerplay of the night, Ivan Vishnevskiy put a shot by Crawford to add to Chicago’s lead.
Physical play came into the picture late in the second and carried into the third as both teams amassed 20 penalty minutes in just more than 15 minutes of play.
Rockford had some excellent shots on goal throughout the game, but couldn’t solve Drew MacIntyre, who stopped all 33 shots he faced throughout the game, and spoiled the ’Hogs’ Jersey Auction Night.
Chicago added a second powerplay game late in the third to secure the win, downing the ’Hogs 3-0. After only being shut out three times the entire season, the ’Hogs have now been shut out twice in their last three games, while managing a meager five goals in four games. Rockford can assure themselves a playoff berth if they can manage to win two of their remaining five games. However, if division rivals Peoria and San Antonio lose any of their remaining games, it gives Rockford an edge in advancing into the post-season.
One additional positive for the weekend was the continued success of the Jersey Auction. According to figures released on the team’s Web site, the auctioned player and coach jerseys, as well as silent auction items, totaled $29,865, with the highest bid of $2,100 going to a Jack Skille game-worn jersey. The ’Hogs’ Web site states “all proceeds from this year’s auction will go to the IceHogs Charitable Foundation. The IceHogs Charitable Foundation will, in return, distribute the proceeds to several not-for-profit organizations in the Rock River Valley, including, but not limited to MDA, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Rockford-area Boys’ and Girls’ Club, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Jr. IceHogs and others.”
This upcoming weekend features the final two home games of the regular season for the ’Hogs. Rockford will play the Lake Erie Monsters at 7:05 p.m., Friday, April 2, and host the Milwaukee Admirals at 7:05 p.m., Saturday, April 3.
From the March 31-April 6, 2010 issue