By Jim Hagerty
DOWNTOWN — Fifteen players notched points as the Rockford IceHogs skated to a 7-2 rout of the defending Calder Cup champion Grand Rapids Griffins at the BMO Harris Bank Center Saturday.
Carl Dahlstrom and David Kampf each tallied three points each, helping Rockford extend its winning streak to four games. The IceHogs are 5-0-0-0 against Grand Rapids on the season.
Dahlstrom now has 10 points in his last seven outings, and currently owns a four-game point streak.
The IceHogs opened the scoring 6:41 of the opening frame as Andreas Martinsen recorded his third goal in four games for the early Rockford lead.
The scoreline remained 1-0 six minutes into the middle stanza before Tomas Jurco struck again for Rockford. Jurco’s marker stretched his goal streak to four games and brought his total to nine on the season.
Almost four minutes later, Darren Raddysh tripled the IceHogs’ lead with his third of the year.
Matthew Highmore then added his team-leading 11th goal of the season just over a minute into the final period, and Dahlstrom and Matheson Iacopell followed with a goal apiece in a two-minute span to stretch the Rockford lead to six.
Grand Rapids added a deuce in the third period, but Kampf iced the win for the IceHogs, scoring the team’s seventh of the game with just over a minute to play.
J.F. Berube and Jeff Glass combined for 36 saves in the Rockford net, while the Griffins’ Tom McCollum turned aside 25 of 32 pucks at the other end.
“We’ve been getting a lot of pucks up to the blue line this year,” Dahlstrom said of the points that have come from Rockford’s D-men this season. “And then it’s matter of us getting the pucks to the net through that first layer [of players]. And I think we’ve really shown that.”
Saturday marked the Rockford return of Tanner Kero since the Blackhawks placed him on waivers Thursday. It was his first game since he scored his only NHL goal of the season Nov. 12. Kero is in a one-way contract with Chicago, which means he’ll still make his NHL base salary–$700,000–while down in Rockford. He said he plans to use however long he’s in the AHL in whatever role he’s asked to play as part of coach Jeremy Colliton’s IceHogs. At this point, he’s just glad to be part of the lineup.
“It’s always tough when you’re watching, especially for an extended period of time,” Kero said of the games he sat in the press box as a healthy scratch for Chicago this year. “So, it will be nice to get back into game mode and playing. I am glad I am still part of this organization. I’ll take the best from this.”
Kero, 25, started his pro career with the IceHogs in 2015, when his senior season concluded at Michigan Tech University, where he was a Hobey Baker Award nominee. He’s since skated 110 games in a Rockford sweater and 72 contests for the Blackhawks. He signed a two-year contract extension in March that runs through the 2018-19 season.
Next Home Game: The Rockford IceHogs take on the Chicago Wolves for an Illinois Lottery Cup showdown on Tuesday, Dec. 12 at the BMO Harris Bank Center. Puck drops at 7 p.m. The contest marks the third of nine Fas Fuel Winning Weekdays in 2017-18. If the Hogs win, tickets from Tuesday’s game can be redeemed for a ticket of equal or lesser value to the following Fas Fuel Winning Weekdays game on Tuesday, Jan. 2. Fans can also enjoy $2 tacos, select beer, and companion tickets as part of Taco Tuesday. Tickets can be purchased at IceHogs.com, by calling 815-968-5222 or in-person at the BMO Harris Bank Center Box Office. R.