By Todd Reicher
The Rockford IceHogs had a week off between games, and the time off may have been a bit too long.
Sunday, Dec. 26, the ’Hogs played host to the Milwaukee Admirals in a hard-fought division matchup.
Period one started off slow for both teams, but Milwaukee had the edge in shots for most of the period. An early penalty by the ’Hogs’ Rob Klinkhammer was fought off, and a late Milwaukee penalty committed by Admirals winger Mike Bartlett was also killed, leaving the teams both 0-1 in the first period power-play opportunities. Shots on goal were also knotted, at 11, as well as the score, at 0-0.
The second period started going the same way, with both teams getting some good opportunities, but nothing showing up on the scoreboard. That is, until a Chris DiDomenico high-sticking penalty occurred just shy of midway into the second period. Blake Geoffrion tallied his second goal of the season off a nice one-timer feed from Jonathon Blum. ’Hogs goalie Alec Richards was playing tight on Blum’s side of the ice, and the ’Hogs’ defense didn’t cover Geoffrion, who was open on the opposite end of the ice. Blum’s feed went across the ice, and Geoffrion was able to take advantage of Richards being out of position for the 1-0 lead.
Within less than a minute of the goal, Shawn Lalonde was also tagged for a high-stick minor, putting the Ads right back on the power play. Milwaukee once again took advantage of the extra man. Blum would score his second point of the night with a goal from just inside the faceoff circle off a feed from defenseman Roman Josi, who also tallied his second point of the night.
However, Lalonde would make amends for his penalty just a few minutes later. Lanlonde was playing toward the point in the defensive zone, and Klinkhammer gained possession of a loose puck from Evan Brophey. Lalonde immediately began streaking toward the Admirals’ goal and got behind the defense. Ads captain Brett Palin hustled from his defensive point and tried to catch up to Lalonde, but was a stride out of range. Lalonde flipped a quick wrister to the far side lower corner and beat Mark Dekanich to close the gap to 2-1 with just under a period-and-a-half left to play.
Rockford would get a few more power-play opportunities, but was unable to capitalize on any of them, leaving the team 0-3 on the night. Milwaukee, however, scored both of their goals on the advantage, finishing at 2-4. The two goals would be the difference in the game, as Rockford was unable to add any goals in the third. Milwaukee’s defense played a tight game, allowing only four ’Hogs shots in the final frame, and held them without a shot in the first 8 minutes of the period.
On a side note, goalie Hannu Toivonen was recalled to the Chicago Blackhawks as ex-’Hog Corey Crawford was ill. Joe Palmer was recalled from the ECHL affiliate Toledo Walleye to back up Richards.
Rockford’s next game is Tuesday, Dec. 28, when the ’Hogs travel to face the Milwaukee Admirals (results not available at press time). The ’Hogs then return back to the MetroCentre Thursday, Dec. 30, to play host to the Houston Aeros with the puck hitting the ice at 6:35 p.m.
From the Dec. 29-Jan. 4, 2010