By Todd Reicher
The 2016-2017 season finally came to a close as the Rockford IceHogs put together their worst AHL season in team history, finishing with a 25-39-9 record for 62 points and ending with a four-game losing streak.
Rockford played three games in the 27th and final week of the season, and lost by a combined score of 13-5, including a 2-1 loss to Milwaukee.
The 2-1 loss was the first of the week as the Admirals scored two first period goals to jump out ahead of Rockford early. Vladislav Kamenev poured in his 21st of the season at 9:47, followed exactly six minutes later by Yakov Trenin scoring his first professional goal, to put the Ads up 2-0.
After a scoreless second period which saw Rockford outshoot Milwaukee 10-3, Tyler Motte hit double-digits in goals with his 10th of the season at 11:50 of the third frame, assisted by Kyle Baun and Luc Snuggerud.
Despite a late power play opportunity with 1:02 left in the game, Rockford was unable to equal Milwaukee’s two goals and the Admirals left the BMO with a 2-1 victory.
Both teams met again on Friday, this time in Milwaukee, for the final meeting between the two teams this season.
Once again, Milwaukee put two first goals on the board to Rockford’s zero, to put the Ads up 2-0 after 20. Frederick Gaudreau scored his 25th of the year at 5:01, and Justin Kirkland beat Mac Carruth for his ninth of the season.
Eighteen-year old Samuel Girard extended Milwaukee’s lead to 3-0 at 2:17 of the second period for his first professional goal.
Defenseman Nolan Valleau would score Rockford’s first goal of the game at 5:01, assisted by Robin Norell and William Pelletier to cut the lead to 3-1, but Matt White would score just over four minutes later to give Milwaukee their second three-goal lead of the game.
The scoring bonanza continued in the second period when Snuggerud scored his first professional goal at 10:33 to cut the lead back down to a two-goal deficit.
The scoring wasn’t finished yet, with Adam Pardy scoring shorthanded for Milwaukee at 16:48 to put Milwaukee up 5-2, which capped the second period scoring.
An early goal by Trevor Smith at 3:54 in the third period sealed the game for Milwaukee as Rockford was never able to recover. The Ads defense clamped down on Rockford, holding them to four shots in the final frame.
The IceHogs came home on Saturday for their last game of the season, hosting the Iowa Wild.
For the third straight game, the opposition put at least two goals up on Rockford in the first, and holding Rockford scoreless, as Iowa hiked up the score to 3-0 after 20 minutes.
Gerald Mayhew scored Iowa’s first two goals to put the Wild up 2-0, and Luke Kunin scored at 17:42, giving Iowa the early lead.
Kurtis Gabriel scored his eighth of the season at 2:14, and Dmitry Sokolov scored his first professional goal 38 seconds later, putting Iowa up 5-0. After the goal, Rockford goaltender Lars Johansson wildly batted his stick against the goalpost, snapping it in half. Johansson remained in the game, stopping the rest of the shots he faced in the game.
Rockford finally broke through at 5:39 of the final period when P.C. Labrie got the monkey off his back, scoring his first goal of the year, after a tough season for the veteran forward, which saw him earn only eight points.
A pleasant surprise this season, William Pelletier, scored his third goal of the season at 12:11, pulling Rockford to within three goals.
The IceHogs scoring would stop there as the Wild took the contest 5-2, putting an emphatic end to Rockford’s disappointing season.
There’s no more losing hockey, at least in Rockford. In the coming weeks, I’ll be writing a review to wrap up a dire season along with some notes and stats, and discussing what the future may hold for Rockford next year.