The Chicago Blackhawks' AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs, took two different paths to victory in picking up four points this weekend. Saturday night, the IceHogs employed a furious offensive assault on the Abbotsford Heat. Sunday afternoon, Carter Hutton took care of the net.
Rockford swept the weekend's games at the BMO Center, beating the Heat 7-2 and scoring five first-period goals in the process. The goals didn't come as readily against the Lake Erie Monsters, but Hutton stopped 35 of 36 shots to force a shootout. After two extra rounds, the IceHogs prevailed 3-2 in the shootout for a 2-1 triumph.
Kent Simpson backed up Hutton over the weekend, having been called up from Toledo in the ECHL. Simpson didn't see any action, but a number of new faces helped on the scoresheet.
Recent acquisition Brad Mills netted the game-winner in the shootout. David Gilbert, once again up from Bloomigton of the CHL, potted his first AHL goal of the campaign in Saturday's offensive explosion. That explosion was started by a tremendous goal (while falling down) by Kendall McArdle, with an equally impressive assist from Kyle Beach. Beach also finished of a nice power-play marker for Rockford's lone regulation goal Sunday.
Beach has 13 goals in 43 games with the IceHogs and also is a plus-three on the season. He had eight shots on goal against the Monsters and also had a hand in something you definitely don't see every day, even in the AHL.
Midway through the second intermission Sunday, the Hamboni, a Zamboni that takes paying fans on a ride around the ice, came to a stop and could not be moved, ultimately delaying the start of the third period by almost 20 minutes.
Several attempts were made to get the disabled Hamboni off of the ice, including towing it with one of the actual Zambonis, to no avail. As the IceHogs staff prepared to evacuate the fans still sitting on the Hamboni, help was on the way.
Beach, Brandon Pirri (who scored two goals Saturday), Brandon Svendsen and Ben Youds came onto the ice and carried some toddlers to safety off-ice. The 3,200 fans who came out for a family-oriented 5:05 p.m. start cheered the four skaters. They were rewarded with hockey a few minutes later when the Hamboni was revived and taken off the playing surface.
Rockford signed defenseman Kevin Quick to a PTO, due in part to an injury that is keeping prospect Dylan Olsen out of the lineup. Olsen may be out for a while with an upper-body injury. Assistant captain Ryan Stanton was scratched for both weekend games and could also possibly be hurt.
Forward Philippe Paradis is still day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Ben Smith, who injured his hand Jan. 11 against Grand Rapids, has had the cast on his left hand removed and could see action Friday night when the Griffins return to Rockford.
Rematch of January Brawl
Friday night will be the first meeting of Rockford and Grand Rapids since the two teams took part in a wild fight Jan. 18 at the BMO Center. Multiple suspensions were doled out following the donnybrook, which included a goalie battle between Hutton and Petr Mrazek.
A rematch is unlikely. The officials will surely keep a close hold of the action, plus Mrazek is up with the Red Wings right now.