Hockey: Tales from the Trough: IceHogs finish preseason 2-1, regular season starts Oct. 13

IceHogs winger Marcus Kruger slaps a one-timer into the back of the net during Rockford’s 3-2 shootout win against the Milwaukee Admirals. Kruger, who would most likely be playing for the Chicago Blackhawks, is playing for Rockford because of the NHL lockout. (Photo by Todd Reicher)

By Todd Reicher
Sports Columnist

The quick preseason for the Rockford IceHogs is already in the books, with Rockford finishing their three games with a 2-1 record. Since the preseason games are not broadcast, and the AHL does not track statistics, the recaps below of the road games against Chicago and Peoria are mostly credited to the Rockford IceHogs’ website, However, I was able to attend and comment on the home game against Milwaukee.

Rockford started their preseason with a dismal 6-1 loss against the Chicago Wolves at the Allstate Arena Tuesday, Oct. 2. According to the Rockford IceHogs’ website, Chicago scored three times in a span of 1:12, and Alec Richards let in five goals in the first 30 minutes of the game.

As with tradition in preseason games, both teams switched netminders at the midway point of the second period. Eddie Lack was a perfect 9-for-9 in the save department for Chicago, and Richards finished saving 16-of-21 shots. With Lack and Richards sent to the bench, Kent Simpson came in for Rockford, and Matt Climie skated on for Chicago.

It wasn’t until the third period when Rockford got on the board with a score from Kyle Beach. Apparently, Climie was caught outside of the net, leaving an opening for Beach.

Thursday, Oct. 4, was a different story for Rockford, with the ’Hogs coming from behind to snatch a 3-2 shootout win.

It didn’t take long for the fans to get into the game, as Brandon Bollig dropped the mitts for a fight 2:19 into the game.

Milwaukee was on the board for the first two goals. The first, by Jani Lajunen, was pitched in from a rebound let out by Carter Hutton.

The Ads’ second goal came in similar fashion, a rebound let out by Hutton with less than 5 minutes left in the period.

Marcus Kruger, playing his first home game for the Rockford IceHogs, scored on a one-timer set up by a cross-ice feed from Byron Froese to pull the ’Hogs to within one.

The goaltenders switched out again around the middle of the second with Mac Carruth coming in for Hutton and Jeremy Smith being replaced by Magnus Hellberg at the Milwaukee end.

Shortly after Hellberg’s entrance, Ben Smith put in his first goal of the preseason while the ’Hogs were on a 5-on-3 power play. The initial call on the ice was a goal credited to Andrew Shaw, who was also stationed in front of the net. However, the call was later changed, and Smith was given credit for the game-tying goal.

At the end of regulation, both teams remained tied at 2-2, with Rockford outshooting the Ads 36-18.

Neither team was able to tally a marker in the 5-minute overtime session, so the game headed to a shootout.

Rockford’s first three shooters — Nick Leddy, Brandon Pirri and Bollig — all tallied goals on their shots, and Milwaukee only managed one goal after the first three rounds.

Hellberg would stop Rockford’s fourth shooter, and Milwaukee would score on their fourth attempt to bring the shootout to 3-2.

However, Carruth stonewalled Milwaukee’s final shooter, and Rockford earned a well-fought 3-2 win.

As training camp winds down, all teams begin cutting their roster, sending players to other minor league teams or back to their junior teams. Rockford sent down Terry Broadhurst, Froese and Simpson to the Toledo Walleye, and David Gilbert was reassigned to the Bloomington Blaze of the CHL (Central Hockey League). In addition, Chris DeSousa was released from his try-out.

Saturday, Oct. 6, marked the closing of the preseason for Rockford with a matchup against the Peoria Rivermen at the Carver Arena in Peoria.

The Rivermen tallied the first goal 3:53 into the opening frame to quickly put Peoria up 1-0.

Jimmy Hayes tied the score at 1-1 with 5 minutes remaining in the first period.

With Rockford shorthanded in the second, Hayes earned his second point of the game, setting up Kruger for the go-ahead goal.

Shortly after, Rockford’s penalty ended and Brandon Saad picked off a pick in the offensive zone and beat goaltender Jake Allen, giving Rockford a 3-1 lead.

Former IceHogs skater Derek Nesbitt beat Hutton later in the period to pull the Rivermen to within one.

In the third period, Bollig once again gave Rockford a two-goal lead by picking up a loose rebound and shoving it past Allen.

With 90 seconds left, a power-play goal brought the Rivermen to within a goal once again, but Hayes tallied his second goal of the evening into an empty net 30 seconds later, and Rockford left with a 5-3 victory.

The IceHogs begin the regular season Saturday, Oct. 13, against the Chicago Wolves at the Allstate Arena. Rockford stays in Chicago for a Sunday matinee at 3 p.m. against Chicago before heading down to Peoria to play the Rivermen Oct. 19.

Rockford’s first home game is Saturday, Oct. 20, against the Charlotte Checkers at 7:05 p.m.

From the Oct. 10-16, 2012, issue

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