By Todd Reicher
After going on an 11-game point streak, the Rockford IceHogs have taken a step back, losing four straight, including two this past weekend against the Milwaukee Admirals. Not much can really be said for both games this past weekend, other than the IceHogs were simply outplayed. The IceHogs gave up a combined 14 goals in two games while scoring six.
The first game, Friday, March 7, in Milwaukee, had the ’Hogs on the losing end of an 8-3 contest. Milwaukee scored four unanswered goals before Rockford managed to put one on the board, a power-play marker by Garret Ross at 12:06 of the second period.
The Ads would come back with another second-period goal to put a 5-1 stranglehold on the game after 40 minutes. A shorthanded goal by Calle Jarnkrok 59 seconds into the third period effectively put the game out of reach for the ’Hogs. Rockford still played hard, and Brandon Mashinter closed the gap to 6-2 with his 11th goal on the season, a power-play tally.
As the period progressed, both teams began to become agitated with one another and a number of fights broke out. Brad Mills and Michael Liambas tangled first, followed 9 seconds later by Mashinter and captain Scott Ford. Less than 2 minutes later, Jeremy Morin and Anthony Bitetto dropped the mitts, followed by Charles-Oliver Roussel and Mark McNeill duking it out. At the same time, both goalies left their creases, resulting in penalties for both netminders. As the game wound down, and the Ads tacked on another goal, Mills and Liambis went at it once again, along with Bobby Shea and Scott Valentine. When it was all said and done, both teams tallied a total 54 penalty minutes and 18 infractions in the game. The ’Hogs were out-shot 35-25 in the game and goaltender Kent Simpson surrendered eight goals.
The following night was more of the same, as the Admirals took care of the ’Hogs to the score of 6-2; however, this game was closer than the score indicated.
Both teams traded goals in the first two periods, until Milwaukee scored two goals in 56 seconds to send the Ads to a 4-2 lead after two periods. Milwaukee scored the first goal of the game just shy of the midway point in the first frame. Pierre-Marc Bouchard made an impressive defensive play to strip the puck in the offensive zone, leading to a breakaway and goal to tie the game at 1-1. Filip Forsberg scored 87 seconds into the second period to reclaim the lead for the Ads.
Terry Broadhurst scored his 15th of the season at 11:16 of the period to once again tie the score. However, the aforementioned two goals by Milwaukee broke apart what momentum Rockford carried toward the final period. Colton Sissons’ second goal of the game midway through the final frame put the dagger in Rockford, putting the Milwaukee lead at 5-2.
An empty-net goal at 18:47 put Rockford away and solidified a 6-2 Admirals victory.
Keys for the week
The Rockford defense faltered miserably this week, leaving their goaltender hanging out to dry numerous times. Passing was subpar throughout most of the series, as Rockford seemed to rarely find its target. Bad passes also led to many turnovers, which occasionally would lead to odd-man rushes.
It’s becoming very redundant, but the IceHogs’ league-worst penalty kill continued to show why they are ranked worst in the league, giving up five goals on 10 opportunities in two games.
The IceHogs get a chance to gather themselves with only one game in 13 days. After their loss to the Ads March 8, the ’Hogs go back to Milwaukee March 14 for their only game of the week. The following Friday, March 21, Rockford resumes a more typical schedule with a home-and-home series against the Chicago Wolves.
Photos from these — and other — Rockford IceHogs home games can be seen on my website at www.reicherstudios.com/Sports/HockeyPhotos, or on my Facebook page, www.Facebook.com/ReicherStudios.
From the March 12-18, 2014 print edition