Tales from the Trough: IceHogs drop both preseason games 3-1, other players assigned to Rockford

Rockford IceHogs forward Mark McNeill carries the puck in transition up the ice during Thursday’s (Oct. 2) 3-1 loss versus Chicago. McNeill is entering his second full season with Rockford as he looks to build upon a strong first season. (Photo by Todd Reicher)
Rockford IceHogs forward Mark McNeill carries the puck in transition up the ice during Thursday’s (Oct. 2) 3-1 loss versus Chicago. McNeill is entering his second full season with Rockford as he looks to build upon a strong first season. (Photo by Todd Reicher)

By Todd Reicher
Sports Columnist

Despite scoring first in both contests, the IceHogs dropped a pair of preseason games by a score of 3-1.

Garrett Ross started the scoring when he kicked a rebound back to his stick and slid the puck through the five-hole past Wolves netminder Jordan Binnington.

Midway through the second period, Shane Harper took advantage of a Rockford miscue while the ’Hogs were on the power play. Harper got behind the defense and made it into the zone alone against Scott Darling and beat the goaltender to knot the score at 1-1. Despite getting a chunk of the rubber, the puck still had enough force to trickle across the line before Darling could grab it.

Pat Cannone would tally a marker toward the second half of the third to give the Wolves a 2-1 lead, and then would seal the victory late with an empty-net tally.

Darling looked good stopping 16 of 18 shots, despite his team letting him down on one of the goals.

Rockford suffered the same fate the following night, dropping a 3-1 tilt to Milwaukee. Once again, it was Rockford lighting the lamp first with a shorthanded goal from Drew LeBlanc midway through the first.

Mike Liambas tallied a marker late in the first to even things up at 1-1 after 20 minutes.

Colton Sissons fired a shot that sailed over Kent Simpson’s shoulder to give the Ads a 2-1 lead in the second period.

In typical preseason fashion, Rockford switched out goaltenders and Mac Carruth came in relief of Simpson midway through the second. However, Rockford’s offense was unable to put any more points on the board and a late power-play tally from Pontus Aberg put Milwaukee ahead for good with a 3-1 win.

Activity was abundant Saturday, Oct. 4, when the IceHogs reduced their training camp roster as well as reassigned players to the Indy Fuel. Defensemen Kirill Gotovets, Justin Holl and Mathieu Brisebois, along with goaltenders Carruth and Simpson, were all loaned out to the ECHL affiliate.

In addition, camp tryouts, including forwards Scott Brannon, Winston Day Chief, Garrett Klotz, Brett Perlini and Klarc Wilson, along with defensemen Nick Bruneteau, Brett Kostolansky, Ildar Telyakov and Paul Swindlehurst were released from their training camp tryouts.

Later in the day, it was announced that the Blackhawks sent defenseman Klas Dahlbeck to Rockford along with forward Teuvo Teräväinen.

Even more transactions took place later in the day when a big trade was announced by the Chicago Blackhawks. Defenseman Nick Leddy, along with Simpson, were both dealt to the New York Islanders in exchange for defenseman T.J. Brennan, Ville Pokka and the rights to restricted free-agent goaltender Anders Nilsson.

Brennan played all 76 games with the Toronto Marlies last season and was named the AHL’s Eddie Shore Award winner as the league’s most outstanding defenseman while also being named to the 2014 first All-Star team along with Rockford defenseman Adam Clendening.

Pokka played in 54 games with Karpat in the SM-liiga in Finland last season, recording 27 points (six goals, 21 assists). He has appeared in 138 career games over four seasons with Karpat, tallying a total of 42 points (12 goals, 30 assists). The defenseman was originally selected by the New York Islanders in the second round (34th overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft. 

Nilsson, 24, has posted a 4-1-2 record, 2.10 goals-against average and .928 save percentage in eight games with the KHL’s Ak Bars this season. The Lulea, Sweden, native split the 2013-14 season between the New York Islanders and American Hockey League’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Nilsson posted an 8-7-2 record with a 3.11 GAA and .896 save percentage in 19 regular-season games with the Islanders. He collected a 12-4-2 mark, 2.81 GAA, .901 save percentage and two shutouts in 29 regular-season games with Bridgeport.

Sunday, Oct. 5, gave two more players to Rockford as forward Peter Regin and goaltender Michael Leighton both cleared waivers from the Chicago Blackhawks and were assigned to the IceHogs.

Regin notched 4 points in 17 regular-season contests for the Blackhawks in 2013-2014 and also appeared in five 2014 Stanley Cup playoff games. The forward was acquired by the Blackhawks on Feb. 6, 2014, with Pierre-Marc Bouchard from the New York Islanders in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick. 

Leighton, who was originally drafted by the Blackhawks in 1999, spent the 2013-2014 campaign with Donbass Donetsk of the KHL, where he compiled a 20-15-6 record along with a 1.74 goals against average and .934 save percentage. The netminder was part of a goaltending tandem that set a team record for fewest goals allowed during the regular season. 

As it stands, Rockford has a total of 15 forwards, nine defensemen and two goalies assigned to their roster. More than likely, there will be a few more moves before the start of the NHL season, which begins this Friday, Oct. 10. Chicago still has three players recalled from Rockford: Brandon Mashinter, Jeremy Morin and Trevor van Riemsdyk. For an up-to-date roster, please visit the Rockford IceHogs website, www.IceHogs.com.

Rockford’s first regular-season game takes place this Saturday, Oct. 11, at the BMO Harris Bank Center in Rockford, with game time at 7 p.m.

View Todd Reicher’s photos from Rockford IceHogs games online at www.reicherstudios.com/Sports/HockeyPhotos or on his Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/ReicherStudios.

From the Oct. 8-14, 2014, issue

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