This weekend brings plenty of hockey action to the Rockford IceHogs after nearly a full week off. The IceHogs have a three games in three days set ahead of them against two tough AHL Central Division foes, starting with the Milwaukee Admirals on Friday night.
Rockford IceHogs Look To Bounce Back
After only coming away with one point in the standings out of a possible four points last weekend, the IceHogs have a great opportunity to gain ground back in the Central Division as they play the Milwaukee Admirals and Iowa Wild for three games in three days. The IceHogs will travel to Milwaukee to take on the Admirals on Friday night before playing a home-and-home series against the Iowa Wild.
The IceHogs come into the contest dealing with some injury issues to a number of their key early season contributors and are potentially out for the weekend action. Matthew Highmore, Jordan Schroeder, and Carl Dahlstrom have all missed time recently due to injuries with Dahlstrom and Highmore exiting the IceHogs’ last game against the Manitoba Moose. In response, the IceHogs recalled forwards Brett Welychka and Radovan Bondra in recent days to fill the roster spots left by Highmore and Dahlstrom, figuring that those players may be out an extended period of time.
With two of their top point-producers out, the IceHogs will need to find more scoring out of their depth players to gain ground early on in the Central Division. Both Dylan Sikura and Tyler Sikura lead the team in points along with Highmore at seven a piece, but no other player is above a 0.70 point-per-game pace on the team besides Schroeder, who is still out. Victor Ejdsell has come around lately after a slow start to the season and could provide the offensive spark the IceHogs need.
Rockford boasts one of the best goaltending duos in the AHL with Collin Delia and Anton Forsberg tending net. For Delia, in six starts he holds a 4-1-1 record with a 2.64 GAA and a 0.925 save-percentage and will figure to get at least one game over the weekend. The other two games may end up falling to Forsberg, who made his IceHogs debut last week. Even though in a loss, Forsberg made 25 saves on 27 shots faced in his lone start in the AHL so far this season. Expect Rockford head coach Jeremy Colliton to give Forsberg two of the three starts to get him up to game speed after only playing one game, NHL or AHL, since the beginning of the year.
Milwaukee Admirals Report
The Milwaukee Admirals welcome the IceHogs into Milwaukee holding the best record at the top of the AHL Central Division. At 8-1-2, the Admirals hold 18 points in the standings and a 0.818 point-percentage which is 5 points ahead of the second-place Chicago Wolves. Milwaukee also has played the most games in the division heading into Friday night’s contest.
The Admirals hold the 11th ranked powerplay unit in the AHL with a 22.0-percent success rate, and rank third-best in the league on the penalty-kill with a 90.0-percent kill-rate. Expect the Admirals and IceHogs to both be dangerous on special teams Friday night on both ends of the ice, but that could effectively cancel each team’s strength out.
Milwaukee is paced in scoring by defenseman Matt Donovan with 12 points (6 G, 6 A) in 11 games played this season with fellow defenseman Frederic Allard behind him on the active roster with 10 points (G, 9 A) this season.
In net, the Admirals are led by Troy Grosenick and Tom McCollum. McCollum holds a 5-1-2 record with a 2.44 GAA and 0.913 save-percentage, while Grosenick has three games started this season and a perfect 3-0-0 record. Grosenick, recently returned from the Nashville Predators, has a 2.60 GAA and a team-leading 0.918 save-percentage.
Iowa Wild Report
The Iowa Wild also come into the weekend slate ahead of the IceHogs in the standings with a 5-2-0 record in their first seven games. With 10 points in the standings and a 0.714 points-percentage, the Wild sit third in the division based on the point-percentage ahead of the IceHogs and Manitoba Moose, who both also hold 10 points. As of Friday, the Wild have played the fewest games of AHL Central Division teams but will be on their own three games in three days trip like the IceHogs.
On special teams, the Wild have the most dangerous powerplay unit in the AHL with a staggering 38.5-percent success rate on the man-advantage. Iowa has the fewest amount of powerplay chances in the AHL with just 26, but have converted on 10 powerplays over their seven games. On the penalty-kill, the Wild rank 16th in the league with an 80.6-percent kill-rate. The IceHogs hold the 4th ranked penalty-kill in the AHL and it will be put to the test if they find themselves in the box against Iowa.
The Wild are paced in scoring by a trio of Luke Kunin, Cal O’Reilly, and rookie Mason Shaw, all with seven points to start the season. The Wild also have four players tied with six points each behind their top three scorers. Iowa has a good way of being dangerous from multiple points on the ice.
In net, the Wild are led by Andrew Hammond with six starts this season out of seven games. Hammond holds a 5-1-0 record with a 2.64 GAA and a 0.915 save-percentage. The other start in net for the Wild came from rookie Kaapo Kahkonen, holding an 0-1-0 record with a 3.13 GAA and a 0.893 save-percentage.
The next three days are packed with action for the Rockford IceHogs, starting on Friday night. Travelling North to Milwaukee, the IceHogs take on the Milwaukee Admirals on Friday night at the UW Panther Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00pm CT.
After facing the Admirals, the IceHogs return home to begin a home-and-home series with the Iowa Wild. Saturday’s game is scheduled for a 6:00pm CT puck drop at the BMO Harris Bank Center in Rockford.
Finally on Sunday, the IceHogs and Wild play the back-end of their home-and-home series. Sunday’s puck drop is scheduled for a 5:00pm CT start at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa.