Preview: IceHogs Prepare For Home-And-Home With Griffins

  

The Rockford IceHogs and Grand Rapids Griffins square-off Friday night in Grand Rapids to begin a home-and-home weekend series between the teams.

The IceHogs have been out of action since last weekend which saw them take both games over the Chicago Wolves and Texas Stars and move into second place in the AHL Central Division. Over their last ten games, the IceHogs are 6-3-1 and trail only the Manitoba Moose in the Central Division. The Griffins come into the weekend in fifth place in the Central Division and 4-4-2 over their last ten games.

Roster Shakeup In Rockford

Rockford has seen a bit of a shakeup to their roster in the hours leading up to the weekend as the Chicago Blackhawks assigned centerman Tanner Kero to the IceHogs and recalled winger Vince Hinostroza from the AHL. Hinostroza has led the IceHogs all season offensively, racking up 22 points (9G, 13A) in 23 games. With the departure of Hinostroza, rookie Matthew Highmore assumes the role of active points leader in Rockford with 17 points (10G, 7A) in 23 games played.

Kero joins the team after playing in only eight games with the Blackhawks this season, tallying three points and being a healthy-scratch from the lineup for the last ten games for Chicago. After opening the season as the Blackhawks’ fourth-line center option, Kero lost his spot to Tommy Wingels and had failed to return to the lineup consistently. In his AHL career, Kero has 94 games played and 64 points (32G, 32A) all with the IceHogs.

Also on Friday afternoon, the Blackhawks activated Corey Crawford back off the injured reserve list and re-assigned goaltender J.F. Berube to Rockford. Berube did not start a game in his short stint with the Blackhawks, but did see most of the game against the Washington Capitals after Anton Forsberg was pulled. In just over 44 minutes of action, Berube made 12 saves on 14 shots as the Blackhawks lost to the Capitals. With the IceHogs this season, Berube is 6-6-0 in 12 games with a 2.54 Goals Against Average and a .913 Save Percentage.

IceHogs Look To Close Gap In Division

In three previous matchups with the Griffins, the IceHogs are 3-0-0 with two wins coming via the shootout. The Griffins come into the weekend with the seventh-ranked power play in the AHL with a 19.6% success rate opposite the IceHogs’ 28th ranked penalty-kill at 78.4%. Transversely, Rockford ices the 28th-ranked powerplay unit at just a 13% success rate against the Griffins’ 13th-ranked penalty-kill with an 83.3% kill-rate.

The IceHogs have been finding success offensively this season outside of their special teams units thanks to the surge of rookie scoring behind Matthew Highmore, Anthony Louis, and David Kampf, all of whom have double-digits in the points department at this point in the season.

Rockford will have to continue to lean on their crop of rookie talent with the departure of Hinostroza for the time being, with a bit of AHL veteran touch as well from Tomas Jurco and the addition of Kero to the lineup.

Puck drop for Friday night in Grand Rapids is scheduled for 7pm ET and Saturday night’s puck drop at the BMO Harris Bank Center in Rockford is set for 6pm CT.

Center Ice Forums Preview: IceHogs Prepare For Home-And-Home With Griffins

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