The Chicago Blackhawks affiliate in the American Hockey League, the Rockford IceHogs, are off to a solid start in the 2013-14 season. Four games into a five-game road trip to begin the schedule, the IceHogs are in position to possibly post a winning record before returning home.
Rockford split a pair of games in Lake Erie over the weekend, besting the Monsters 5-2 Friday before dropping a 5-1 decision Saturday night. The IceHogs are 2-2 heading into a visit to AHL rival Chicago this Friday.
That may not seem overly impressive until you recall that an IceHogs squad with vastly more experience dropped their first four games a season ago. Rockford has typically been a slow starter as young prospects get their AHL legs, so breaking even through two weeks is a decent enough start.
The play in goal has been worth taking note early, as Blackhawks' signing Antti Raanta was injured on opening night in San Antonio. Minutes into the contest, Raanta took a shot off his knee and left the game soon after.
Kent Simpson entered in relief, giving up two goals and stopping 49 shots despite losing 3-1 to the Rampage. Simpson then made 41 saves in a 4-3 win in Texas.
Raanta was back in action this weekend, playing both games in Lake Erie. His workload was lighter than Simpson's, making 51 saves on 57 shots faced. More importantly, he has quickly returned to the lineup.
Broadhurst Off To A Strong Start
Alex Broadhurst, Chicago's seventh-round selection in the 2011 NHL draft, has started his professional career with some strong play.
The Oak Lawn, Ill. native joined his brother Terry on the IceHogs this fall. The 5'11", 175-pound forward potted a goal in San Antonio on opening night with a nice individual effort. Broadhurst took control of a loose puck, skated into the offensive zone and hit paydirt on the wraparound attempt.
Broadhurst added three assists this past weekend and is tied for the team lead with four points through four games.
Clendening Bounces Back
Adam Clendening, an AHL All-Star last season, had a turnover-plagued opening night but rebounded in Texas with a goal and an assist. Clendening opened the scoring with a power-play goal this past Friday in the win over Lake Erie.
Clendening, who is playing on the first defensive pair with fellow prospect Klas Dahlbeck, has four points (2G, 2A) on the season. With the departure of Ryan Stanton to Vancouver, Rockford will look to Clendening to build upon his solid rookie performance.
The Week Ahead For The Hogs
It's another weekend set for Rockford. Friday night sees the IceHogs in Chicago for what should be a typically rough go-around with the Wolves.
The home portion of Rockford's schedule gets underway Saturday night at the BMO Harris Bank Center. The IceHogs look to greet the home crowd with a win over Grand Rapids.