By Todd Reicher
Thanks to a four-game losing streak, the Rockford IceHogs have gone from second place in the division to fifth place in a matter of two weeks.
Rockford hosted the Chicago Wolves Friday, Jan. 25, in a divisional matchup to see who would go up or down in the standings this week. Despite Rockford’s 2-1 loss to Chicago, the divisional race is still awfully close, with the last-place IceHogs sitting at 42 points with second-place Chicago holding 45 points. The first-place Grand Rapids Griffins are holding the lone top spot with 52 points, despite losing their last two games.
An early goal set the tone for Chicago with Darren Haydar tallying his eighth goal of the season just 72 seconds into the contest. Rockford goaltender Carter Hutton was unable to corral a rebound, something he has had some trouble with this season, and the Wolves’ captain was able to swoop in and deposit the rubber behind Hutton for the early lead.
But Rockford responded with a goal of its own at 8:54 into the opening frame. With Philippe Paradis stationed in front of the net, defenseman Shawn Lalonde blasted a shot from the near blueline that made its way past a screened Joe Cannata to tie the game at 1-1.
Chicago took the lead back again at 14:12 into the second period when Haydar once again cleaned up another rebound. Peter Andersson, who assisted on Haydar’s first goal, got himself on the score sheet again, helping set up Haydar’s ninth tally of the campaign.
Despite 13 third-period shots, Rockford was unable to put another puck past Cannata, and Chicago took home a 2-1 win.
Although the score was only a one-goal differential, the game was not as close as the 2-1 score indicated. Rockford was severely outplayed in the second period, and the score would have been much higher if two of Chicago’s second-period shots didn’t hit the crossbar and deflect back out.
Rockford’s other game in week 16, another one-goal affair, had the Oklahoma City Barons visiting the BMO for the first time this season.
Rockford’s captain and AHL All-Star representative Martin St. Pierre started off the scoring for Rockford with his 16th marker of the season just over halfway through the opening period. Peter LeBlanc grabbed a turnover at middle ice and streaked into the offensive zone, where he unloaded a backhanded shot, which was blocked away. St. Pierre came rushing in and cleaned up the mess to give the team the lead.
Mark Arcobello tallied his 12th goal of the season on a power play with 1:06 expired in the first period to tie the game at 1-1.
Newly signed ’Hog Kenndal McArdle scored his first goal in an IceHogs uniform in the second period to reclaim the lead for Rockford. A nice feed by Rockford’s other All-Star representative, Adam Clendening, set up the former first-round draft pick’s first goal of the season.
But Oklahoma City would tally two quick goals in the second period to take their first lead of the game. Philippe Cornet scored his second of the season at 13:41 of the second period, followed by a goal less than 2 minutes later from team captain Josh Green for a 3-2 lead, which would carry over into the third period.
With more than three-quarters of the final period in the books, Rockford was still down by a 3-2 score, but Jimmy Hayes would shelf his 12th goal of the season to knot the score at 3-3. Clendening would get his second point of the night with a secondary assist with his partnering defenseman Ryan Stanton getting the primary assist.
Stanton would figure in to the next goal; however, the goal would be in favor of the Barons. A puck headed for the net appeared to deflect off Stanton’s stick and reach the top shelf of the net behind Hutton to give the Barons a 4-3 lead with under 3 minutes to play.
A Brandon Svendsen high-sticking penalty with 1:24 left to play all but put the nail in the coffin for Rockford as the ’Hogs were unable to score a game-tying goal, giving the Barons a 4-3 road win over the IceHogs.
After a short break because of the AHL All-Star game, which took place Monday, Jan. 28 (results unavailable at press time), the ’Hogs head out for a four-game road trip that takes them on their first of two visits to Texas. Friday, Feb. 1, Rockford travels to San Antonio to face the Rampage with a 7:30 p.m. start time. The IceHogs have a day off Saturday, Feb. 2, then head to Houston to face the Aeros for an early 12:05 p.m. game Sunday, Feb. 3. The team stays in Texas and travels to Cedar Park to play the Texas Stars Tuesday, Feb. 5, before returning to Illinois to play a game in Peoria Wednesday, Feb. 13.
From the Jan. 30-Feb. 5, 2013, issue