Over the weekend, the Rockford IceHogs faced the Tucson Roadrunners in back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday night in Arizona. Taking three of four points from the Roadrunners with an overtime loss and a regulation win, the IceHogs improve their record to 3-2-1 after the first six games of the season.
Rockford IceHogs Take 3 Of 4 Points On The Road
The two games against the Roadrunners marked the first times in AHL history that the Rockford IceHogs had ever faced Tucson. The first two of four meetings against the Roadrunners this season, Rockford was able to come away with three of a possible four points in the standings with a 4-3 overtime loss on Friday night and a 5-3 win on Saturday night.
Kevin Lankinen got the start for Friday night’s contest, looking to rebound from his first AHL start with the IceHogs this season on opening night. Lankinen would make 15 saves on 19 shots faced in the 4-3 overtime loss, leaving him still looking for his first win.
Lankinen was able to help the IceHogs hold off an early onslaught from the Roadrunners that saw them out to a 3-0 lead at the mid-way point of the game. Thanks to three unanswered goals from Tyler Sikura, Anthony Louis, and Jordan Schroeder, the IceHogs forced overtime at 3-3. But, with less than 30 seconds to play in the extra frame, the Roadrunners got the game-winner from Conor Garland for the 4-3 victory.
On Saturday night, the IceHogs would turn to Collin Delia in net for the second of the back-to-back contests. While Lankinen only faced 19 shots on Friday, Delia would face a healthy 38 shots from Tucson. Making 35 saves on those 38 shots faced, Delia was able to backstop the IceHogs to a 5-3 win over the Roadrunners, good for his third-straight win in net for a 3-1-0 record.
Behind multi-point efforts from Dylan Sikura (2 A), Terry Broadhurst (G, A), Carl Dahlstrom (3 A), and a returning Luke Johnson (G, A), the IceHogs were able to put home five goals for the 5-3 win. Other goals coming from Tyler SIkura, Jordan Schroeder, and Anthony Louis helped Rockford, for the third time this season, put up five goals in a game. It also marked the fourth-straight game where the IceHogs have scored three of more goals in a game.
Through six games this year, Rockford sits at 3-2-1 with seven points in the standings, good for fifth in the AHL Central Division standings based on points-percentage (yep, still doing that).
Luke Johnson Returns To IceHogs
It was announced on Thursday, that with the return of Corey Crawford to health for the Chicago Blackhawks, Luke Johnson would be returning to the Rockford IceHogs. Johns made the Blackhawks roster out of training camp after an impressive Summer program in Chicago. Playing on the fourth-line, Johnson skated in three games for Chicago but failed to tally his first NHL point. He was a healthy-scratch for a handful of games before being re-assigned to the IceHogs on Thursday.
In his return to the IceHogs, Johnson played in both games over the weekend against the Roadrunners and notched his first two points of the season. Going without a point on Friday night in the overtime loss, Johnson got the IceHogs on the board in the first period of Saturday night’s game and added an assist on Terry Broadhurst’s powerplay goal later in the third period.
Johnson ranked fourth in scoring from last season (among returning IceHogs) with 30 points in 73 games. The IceHogs will enjoy having Johnson back in the lineup, adding to their forwards group as a whole with Johnson being able to play on both the powerplay and penalty-kill units for Rockford.
Feel The Power
Speaking of the powerplay and penalty-kill units, the IceHogs had quite an eventful weekend from their special teams units. Going 5-for-12 on the man-advantage against the Roadrunners (2-for-6 on Friday, 3-for-6 on Saturday), the IceHogs’ powerplay improved to a silky 29.6-percent on the season. Their 8-for-27 start to the season on the powerplay gives the IceHogs the fourth-best unit in the AHL, tied with the Dallas Stars.
As for the penalty-kill, the IceHogs were able to go 10-for-13 on the disadvantage over the weekend in Tucson (5-for-7 on Friday, 5-for-6 on Saturday) and run their penalty-kill percentage to 84.0-percent. Rockford’s 21-for-25 kill-rate to start the season is good enough for the ninth-best in the AHL.
Also helping power the IceHogs over the weekend and so far through the first six games of the year, the Sikura Brothers have been pacing the Rockford offense in scoring and are a major reason behind their solid start to the year.
Dylan Sikura had his three-game point streak snapped in Friday night’s overtime loss, but was able to get back on the horse on Saturday night with a two-assist night, giving him a goal and five assists to begin the year on a point-per-game pace.
Tyler Sikura entered the weekend also on a three-game point streak and thanks to goals on both Friday night and Saturday night, his point-streak now sits at five games and is also at a point-per-game pace. Tyler leads the team in goals with four so far this year and both Sikura Brothers lead the IceHogs in scoring with six points each.
Anton Forsberg Placed On Waivers
On Monday afternoon, the Chicago Blackhawks placed goaltender Anton Forsberg on waivers. If he is to clear waivers, Forsberg will be sent to the Rockford IceHogs.
After Corey Crawford’s return to health, the Blackhawks were left with three goalies on their roster with Forsberg, Crawford, and Cam Ward. Having yet to get into a game this season for Chicago, Forsberg will factor into the IceHogs’ goalie-rotation, if he is to clear waivers by Tuesday afternoon. If that happens, the IceHogs will then be the team with three goalies on their roster and would subsequently cause another goalie re-assignment, most likely being Lankinen to the Indy Fuel of the ECHL.
The IceHogs return to Rockford on Wednesday night as they play host to the San Antonio Rampage at the BMO Harris Bank Center. Puck drop for Wednesday night is scheduled for 7:00 pm CT. After the mid-week clash, the IceHogs have a weekend back-to-back home stand against the Cleveland Monsters on Saturday and Manitoba Moose on Sunday. Saturday’s puck drop is scheduled for 6:00 pm CT and Sunday’s is set for 4:00pm CT.