Rockford splits with Milwaukee to bring in the new year


Weekly results

Saturday, Dec. 30 — Milwaukee 5, Rockford 4 (shootout)

The Rockford IceHogs took the short trek across the Wisconsin border for the first of a back-to-back against the Milwaukee Admirals at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers Arena. The Admirals skated away with the 5–4 victory after the game ended in three rounds in the shootout.

Rockford scored first at the 10:35 mark of the first period when forward Michal Teply scored his fourth goal of the season only to be equaled 20 seconds later when Milwaukee center Jasper Weatherby beat Jaxson Stauber to tie the game and would be the first of four straight goals for the home team as the Admirals would lead 4–1 after two periods of action.

The no-quit IceHogs scored three straight in the third period to tie the game at the end of intermission. Defenseman Nolan Allan scored his first goal of the season at the 1:28 mark beating Admirals goaltender Troy Grosenick.

Forward Antti Saarela scored his third of the season to cut the Admirals lead to one goal at the 8:35 mark of the third period before Logan Nijhoff fired home his third on the power play at the 15:50 mark to eventually send the game into overtime.

Rockford made the overtime interesting with back-to-back tripping penalties by Brett Seney and Allan, but Milwaukee would not capitalize on the mistakes.

In the shootout, Teply buried home Rockford’s first attempt, but that would not be enough, as Anders Bjork and Dave Gust were stoned by Grosenick as Jordan Gross and Egor Afanasyev beat Stauber in their chances, giving Milwaukee the 5–4 victory.

Sunday, Dec. 31 — Rockford 4, Milwaukee 3

Here is a nice look at the lineup for Rockford in their 4–3 victory on New Year’s Eve.

Rockford returned home and jumped on the Admirals early in the contest when Seney, who would be sent up to Chicago after the game, scored his eight goal of the season at the 5:20 mark of the opening frame. The goal, assisted by Gust and Bjork, was on the power play after an interference call on Egor Afanasyev and a high-sticking infraction on Reid Schaefer 23 seconds apart.

In the middle frame, each team scored twice, as Milwaukee tied the contest when Anthony Angello buried home his third of the season behind Rockford goaltender Mitchell Weeks. Rockford scored to take the lead at the 11:46 mark, only to be matched by defenseman Marc Del Gaizo a few minutes later.

Forward Ryder Rolston scored the IceHogs’ second power play goal of the game at the 18:34 mark to give the home team a 3–2 advantage after two periods of action.

In what can only be described as an ugly third period, both teams ended up with four penalties each, including a tilt between Milwaukee’s Jake Livingstone and Rockford’s Jalen Luypen, and both found the back of the net one time as Gust fired home the game winner behind Admiral netminder Gustavs Davis Grigals at the 14:58 mark before both teams went home to celebrate the New Year.

High on the Hog

— Rockford is currently tied for third in the Central Division with a 12–13–3–1 for 28 points. The IceHogs were a defenseman carousel in December, as the parent Blackhawks recalled Wyatt Kaiser, Filip Roos and Isaak Phillips all at one point in the month of December.

— Dave Gust continues to be a fan favorite as he leads the IceHogs in goals, assists and points in his 26 games played this season in Rockford. The Orland Park, Illinois, native could be the next in line as a forward call-up to Chicago as the Blackhawks see a rash of injuries and poor play amongst their forwards.

— Chicago fans are getting a first-hand look at why rushing a goaltender is a poor idea. Drew Commesso showed signs of struggling in the month of December and ended up watching both games agains the Admirals as he sets himself up for the new year. Commesso has shown signs of athleticism and compete level that wins at the next level. However, as a 21-year-old still learning the pro game, his struggles are in front of AHL fans each night and not NHL fans each night. The psyche of a goaltender can be quite fickle for even the best. The star still shines bright on Commesso as Blackhawks fans continue to watch Arvid Soderblom burst right before their eyes.

Upcoming week

Rockford travels to the Lone Star State to take on the Texas Stars on back-to-back nights starting Friday at the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park Arena. Both contests are scheduled for a 7 p.m. CST puck drop.

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