After riding a five-game point streak into the Christmas Holiday break, the Rockford IceHogs find themselves entering the 2019 calendar year on a four-game winless streak after losses to the Iowa Wild, Chicago Wolves, and Grand Rapids Griffins to close the 2018 calendar. Hoping to end their current skid, the IceHogs host the Milwaukee Admirals on Wednesday night for the first game of 2019.
IceHogs End 2018 On Four-Game Skid
The Rockford IceHogs season has been a roller-coaster of mediocrity. Goal-scoring has been a struggle, while goaltending has been near the top of the league. Power-play has been less-than great, while penalty-killing has been a strength. There has been a coaching change, and some of their more productive players are now playing with the Chicago Blackhawks. It’s been quite the sequel of a season after reaching the Calder Cup Western Conference Finals last year.
After taking a five-game point streak into the Christmas Holiday break, the IceHogs have dropped four-straight games, going 0-3-1 against AHL Central Division foes the Iowa Wild, Chicago Wolves, and Grand Rapids Griffins to close the 2018 calendar year.
Entering the 2019 portion of the season, the IceHogs sit in 6th place in the division with a 15-13-7 record, good for 37 points. They trail the Milwaukee Admirals in 5th place and Texas Stars in 4th place, both with 38 points in the standings. Rockford, along with the Grand Rapids Griffins, have played the most games in the division with 35, while the last-place Manitoba Moose have played the least with 31 games played so far this season.
After Collin Delia was recalled by the Blackhawks, rookie Kevin Lankinen joined the IceHogs and has made three starts over their last four games since the Christmas Holiday break. In losses to the Wild, Wolves (in overtime), and Griffins, Lankinen has made 83 saves on 90 shots faced. Including a 25 saves on 26 shots first period against the Wolves on December 29. Lankinen has a 1-4-2 record this season with a 2.54 GAA and a 0.905 save-percentage. While he hasn’t been “lights out,” Lankinen has played well in his starts this season but has not been immune to the lack of goal-support from the Rockford offense this season. In the other loss during their 0-3-1 stretch, Anton Forsberg made 33 saves on 37 shots faced against the Chicago Wolves on December 28 at home. Forsberg is 7-4-1 this season with a 2.87 GAA and a 0.910 save-percentage.
The IceHogs NEED to find some goal-scoring. It’s a simple statement, but it’s true. Having played four games more than the Manitoba Moose, the IceHogs have only scored four goals more than the Moose to not be the lowest-scoring team in the AHL. Rockford and Manitoba remain the last two teams that have not cracked the 80-goal mark yet as a team, while 22 other teams have at least 100 goals scored as a team. Leading the team with eight goals, Anthony Louis is second on the team in scoring with 20 points this season, trailing defenseman Darren Raddysh with 21 points. Raddysh is tied with Lucas Carlsson, Jacob Nilsson, and Jordan Schroeder for second on the team with seven goals this season.
For context, the AHL leader in goal-scoring is Chris Terry of the Grand Rapids Griffins and he has 21 goals this season, which is as many goals as Raddysh leads the IceHogs with in points.
Jason Garrison Clears Waivers, Assigned To IceHogs
On Tuesday afternoon, the Chicago Blackhawks newly acquired defenseman Jason Garrison cleared waivers and was assigned to the Rockford IceHogs. Garrison was recently acquired by the Blackhawks in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday that also brought over forward Drake Caggiula from Edmonton and saw defensemen Brandon Manning and Robin Norell (playing for Djurgårdens IF in Sweden) leaving the Blackhawks organization.
The 34-year old defenseman is a veteran of 555 NHL games with 160 points, along with 171 AHL games with 82 points scored. After playing the majority of last season with the Chicago Wolves (58 games), Garrison signed a one-year deal in October with the Oilers after joining their training camp on a PTO. In and out of the lineup inconsistently in Edmonton, Garrison has one goal in his 17 NHL games this season. He will join the IceHogs ahead of their Wednesday night matchup against the Milwaukee Admirals.
The Rockford IceHogs begin the 2019 calendar year at home after celebrating New Year’s in Grand Rapids. Hosting the Milwaukee Admirals on Wednesday night, the IceHogs have a chance to hop at least one spot in the AHL Central Division with the Admirals being one point ahead of them. Puck drop on Wednesday night is scheduled for 7pm CT at the BMO Harris Bank Center in Rockford.