IceHogs, Campbell Excel Over AHL All-Star Break


It was a busy weekend for Rockford IceHogs hockey. Starting on Friday night, the IceHogs hosted back to back games against Central Division opponents before sending off defenseman Andrew Campbell to the AHL All-Star Weekend. Rockford was able to pull out wins in both games against the Manitoba Moose and Iowa Wild before the AHL All-Star Break, where Campbell would show-out in the AHL All-Star Skills Challenge.

IceHogs Take Wins Over Manitoba, Iowa Into AHL All-Star Break

Heading into the weekend, the Rockford IceHogs were looking at a very real possibility of falling into dead last in the AHL Central Division, had they not earned points against either the Manitoba Moose or the Iowa Wild. In back-to-back home games, the IceHogs were able to secure four points out of a possible four, getting a shootout win over the Moose on Friday and a win in regulation over the Wild on Saturday night.

With those results, the IceHogs headed into the AHL All-Star Weekend sitting tied in sixth-place in the Central Division (19-19-8, 46 points) with the San Antonio Rampage based on points, but are tied for the bottom spot in the Division with the Manitoba Moose, based on point-percentage.

Rockford IceHogs def. Manitoba Moose, 4-3 (SO)

Kevin Lankinen would get the start on Friday night for the IceHogs against the Manitoba Moose. Lankinen had recorded just one win for the IceHogs since the Christmas Holiday break, going 1-3-2 over that stretch. Rockford found themselves trailing at the end of the first period thanks to a Moose powerplay goal from former IceHogs forward Marko Dano. His fifth goal of the year put Manitoba ahead 1-0 after the opening 20 minutes.

Rockford would be in a bigger hole in the second period as the Moose took a 2-0 lead just under three minutes into the second period thanks to Sami Niku‘s third goal of the season. Just past the mid-way point of the period, Luke Johnson would tally his sixth goal of the season, coming on the powerplay, to cut the Manitoba lead in half. But he one-goal deficit wouldn’t last long for the IceHogs as the Moose re-took a two-goal lead with less than five minutes to play in the middle frame after Michael Spacek‘s sixth goal of the season, the second Manitoba powerplay goal of the night.

Needing to find a big comeback in the third period, the IceHogs pushed to the final two minutes of the third period before finding a breakthrough goal. With two minutes to play, Dylan Sikura buried his team-leading 12th goal of the season to cut the Manitoba lead to 3-2. Then in dramatic fashion with Lankinen pulled, the IceHogs pulled even at 3-3 thanks to a Jordan Schroeder slap-shot with just seven seconds remaining in regulation. Schroeder’s 10th of the season sent the IceHogs and Moose to overtime, securing at least a point for both teams.

There would be no breakthrough for either team in the extra three-on-three period, so it would have to go to the shootout. Both Lucas Carlsson and Jordan Schroeder would convert their chances against Eric Comrie, and Lankinen shut the door on Logan Shaw and Seth Griffith to seal a comeback 4-3 win for the IceHogs in the shootout. Lankinen finished the game with 25 saves on 28 shots, improving his season record to 3-5-3, with a 2.50 GAA, and a 0.907 save-percentage.

Rockford IceHogs def. Iowa Wild, 3-1

Following Friday night’s comeback win, the IceHogs turned around and hosted the Iowa Wild on Saturday night in Rockford. On Rockford’s annual Autism Awareness Night, the IceHogs wore special uniforms and had a special night in store for the home crowd.

Anton Forsberg got the start for the IceHogs, coming into the game dropping six of his last seven starts in regulation since the Christmas Holiday break. One thing that Forsberg was able to take advantage of on Saturday night was the IceHogs’ discipline, taking just two penalties on the night and allowing the Wild just one powerplay, which the IceHogs were able to kill-off.

After a scoreless first period, the IceHogs would get on the board first, thanks to a powerplay goal from Jacob Nilsson on Rockford’s only powerplay opportunity of the night. Nilsson’s 11th goal of the year gave the IceHogs the lead early in the second period, but it would be Iowa’s Louie Belpedio scoring his fourth goal of the season with just 20 seconds left in the period that would force a 1-1 tie game into the third period.

Rockford responded early in the third period to break the 1-1 tie game thanks to Terry Broadhurst‘s fourth goal of the season. Broadhurst, who just broke-out of a 23-game goalless streak, now has goals in two of his last three games and is on a three-game points streak. Rockford held their 2-1 lead through the rest of the period, and with the Iowa net open late in the game, Luke Johnson netted his seventh goal of the season to make it a 3-1 final score.

Anton Forsberg ended the night with 33 saves on 34 shots faced, improving his record this season to 9-9-1, with a 2.68 GAA and a 0.917 save-percentage. Forsberg also tallied his first assist of the season, getting a secondary credit on the Johnson empty-net goal, his fourth AHL point of his career.

Following the weekend’s action, the IceHogs special teams took a bit of a hit in the overall rankings as the powerplay dropped to 15.1-percent on the season. Rockford ranks 30th in the AHL on the man-advantage this season, but ranks 19th in powerplay opportunities with 179. On the penalty-kill, the IceHogs are doing much better with an 82.8-percent kill-rate, ranking them 8th in the AHL. The IceHogs rank 14th in the AHL with 180 times short-handed this season.

At the AHL All-Star Break, Anthony Louis leads the IceHogs in points with 27 (10 G, 17 A), followed by Dylan Sikura with 26 points (12 G, 14 A), and Jordan Schroeder with 24 points (10 G, 14 A) this season.

Andrew Campbell Shines At AHL All-Star Skills Competition

Following the back-to-back wins, the IceHogs headed into the AHL All-Star Break, except for defenseman Andrew Campbell. Campbell was honored with being named the AHL’s Western Conference playing Captain for the AHL All-Star Weekend, becoming the lone IceHogs representative after Collin Delia’s recall to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Campbell, in his 11th season as a pro, was named the playing Captain for the Western Conference to make his first AHL All-Star appearance in his career. Campbell has played in 695 AHL games in his 11 professional seasons with 145 points. He also has skated in 42 NHL games since being drafted in 2008 by the Los Angeles Kings.

Competing in the Hardest Shot and the Team Breakaway Relay events, Campbell showed his power with the slap-shot, hitting triple digit with a 100.0 MPH clapper on his third attempt. Only Lehigh Valley Phantoms forward Greg Carey would hit a harder shot, winning the contest with a 100.4 MPH slap-shot.

In the Breakaway Relay event, Campbell was able to put one home against Hershey Bears goaltender Vitek Vanecek, helping the Western Conference overcome the Eastern Conference to win the AHL All-Stars Skills Competition, 17-14.

Campbell joins the AHL Central Division All-Stars on Monday night for the AHL All-Star Challenge, pitting all four divisions against each other in three-on-three games in a round-robin format. The Central start the night against the Atlantic Division, before taking on the North Division and then finishing against the Pacific Division in the round-robin portion. The AHL All-Star Challenge begins on Monday at 7pm ET in Springfield, Massachusetts.

What’s Next?

The Rockford IceHogs return to action following the AHL All-Star break on Friday, February 1 as they host the Chicago Wolves in another installment of the Illinois Lottery Cup Rivalry this season. Following Friday night’s game in Rockford, the IceHogs travel North to Milwaukee to take on the Admirals on Saturday night.

Puck drop on Friday at the BMO Harris Bank Center is scheduled for 7pm CT. The IceHogs hold a 4-3-1 record against the Wolves this season. On Saturday night, puck drop is scheduled for 7pm CT at the UW-Panther Arena in Milwaukee. The IceHogs hold a 3-2-1 record against the Admirals this season.

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