The IceHogs opened up the 2012-13 season with two Midwest Division match-ups against the Chicago Wolves, both of which were extremely competitive games.
Saturday, October 13 at Chicago — Carter Hutton got the start in net for the season opener for the IceHogs and Eddie Lack was between the pipes for the Wolves. Hutton was strong early and often for the Hogs in this contest. While on the penalty kill with six minutes gone in the first period, Hutton made a huge blocker save as he battled traffic in front of him. Defenseman Nick Leddy then cleared the puck. The Hogs had a shorthanded opportunity with less than three minutes to go in the opening frame. Jimmy Hayes chased after a loose puck in the Wolves’ zone as he was in all alone. Lack came out of his net to get to it first and ended up tripping Hayes. Center Marcus Kruger was following behind Hayes, picked up the puck, and missed firing it into the open cage. Later, Leddy led a late rush into the offensive zone and got a shot off at the front of the net, but Lack made the save. Chaos ensued in front as everyone scrambled for the loose puck, which made its way back to the blue line where defenseman Ryan Stanton sent a booming shot towards the net. Center Brandon Pirri almost got to the rebound, but not quite, and then the horn signaling the end of the period buzzed.
Lack was strong during Rockford surges in the second period. While the Hogs were on a power play with a little less than nine minutes to go in the frame, he managed to stop a Jeremy Morin shot from the point that was deflected twice. Hutton made numerous gigantic saves for Rockford in the third period and the game went into overtime, and then a shootout. Jordan Schroeder got the Wolves on the board in the first round and Hogs rookie forward Brandon Saad was stopped by Lack. Hutton shut the door on Brett Sterling in the second round and Pirri was able to beat Lack, five-hole, to tie it up. Bill Sweatt scored for Chicago in the third round and Darren Haydar in the fourth, which gave Chicago the 1-0 win as Brandon Bollig and Peter LeBlanc weren’t able to convert for Rockford.
-Chicago outshot Rockford 32-25.
-The IceHogs went 0-for-3 on the power play and the Wolves went 0-for-6.
-Forwards Ben Smith, Martin St. Pierre, and defenseman Ryan Stanton were the alternate captains.
-Brandon Pirri led the IceHogs with 5 shots on goal.
-Some of the penalty killers were: Marcus Kruger, Jimmy Hayes, Nick Leddy, Ryan Stanton; Ben Smith, Andrew Shaw, Dylan Olsen, Ben Youds.
-Some of the power play units were:
Andrew Shaw - Brandon Pirri – Brandon Saad
Peter LeBlanc – Brett Lebda
Ben Smith – Martin St. Pierre – Marcus Kruger
Nick Leddy – Jeremy Morin
-The three stars were: 1 – Eddie Lack 2 – Carter Hutton 3 – Darren Haydar
-Carter Hutton and Eddie Lack recorded the first shutouts of the 2012-13 AHL season.
-The scratches were: Brandon Svendsen (injured), Adam Clendening, Klas Dahlbeck, Shawn Lalonde, Philippe Paradis, and Wade Brookbank (the latter three were healthy scratches).
-The lines and D pairs:
Andrew Shaw – Brandon Pirri – Ben Smith
Brandon Saad – Marcus Kruger – Jimmy Hayes
Peter LeBlanc – Martin St. Pierre – Jeremy Morin
Brandon Bollig – Rob Flick – Kyle Beach
Nick Leddy – Ryan Stanton
Dylan Olsen – Ben Youds
Joe Lavin – Brett Lebda
Sunday, October 14 at Chicago — Unlike Saturday night’s game, there was a lot of scoring going on at the Allstate Arena on Sunday afternoon. Former Blackhawk Andrew Ebbett got the Wolves on the board at 7:46 on the first period with a shot from the right halfwall. It might have been deflected a bit on the way past Hogs netminder Carter Hutton. Eddie Lack was just as spectacular in net for the Wolves on Sunday as he was on Saturday. One of the Hogs’ best chances came in the second period when, from out front, Brandon Saad tipped a shot on Lack, Lack gave up a rebound, and Saad was able to collect it. It looked like it could have been a sure goal, but Lack somehow managed to spot it and nab it with his glove. Wolves defenseman Kevin Connauton was sent to the box for roughing at 6:57 on the period after he crosschecked Kyle Beach up high from behind. The power play looked to get some good mojo going for the IceHogs, but a lousy pass at their own blue line couldn’t be handled by Jeremy Morin and was picked off by Nathan Longpre, who brought it in and buried it for the shorthanded goal at 7:45 to make it 2-0 Wolves. Towards the end of the period, Wolves forward Zack Kassian left his feet behind the net and hit Hogs defenseman Ryan Stanton–which was a very similar play to what Raffi Torres did to Brent Seabrook in the 2011 NHL playoffs, except the outcome wasn’t that bad and Stanton wasn’t hit in the head. Stanton was alright after the hit and didn’t miss a shift. Jimmy Hayes had gone in to defend his teammate and he and Kassian came away with two minutes each for roughing.
At 2:44 of the third period, Sterling made it 3-0 for the Wolves after he threw a puck at the net from close to the bottom of the left circle, and it went in off of Hogs defenseman Dylan Olsen’s skate. It was a flukey goal, to say the least. From Lack’s right, Morin finally got the Hogs on the board in 2012-13 at 5:36 of the period. He was set up by Martin St. Pierre and Marcus Kruger and it was a power play tally. Kruger then struck again for the Hogs at 7:28. He sent a wicked shot flying over Lack from the right circle for his first AHL goal. With that marker, the Wolves’ lead was cut to 3-2. It didn’t take long for them to answer back though. Longpre tallied his second goal of the night just over two minutes later while Chicago was on the power play. Morin cut the lead back down to one at 10:15 with a sick shot from the left circle that went high glove on Lack for his second tally of the game. The Hogs had a chance at 11:18 to tie the game as the Wolves were called for too many men, but the power play came up empty. Bill Sweatt made it 5-3 Wolves at 17:16 and sealed the deal for the home team.
-The IceHogs outshot the Wolves 28-19.
-Rockford went 2-for-7 on the power play and Chicago went 0-for-6.
-Jeremy Morin led the team in shots on goal with 7. Also, his second tally of the day was his 30th professional goal.
-The three stars were: 1 – Nathan Longpre 2 – Jeremy Morin 3 – Kevin Connauton
-The scratches, lines, and D pairs were the same as on Saturday night.
-Unlike other teams, the IceHogs have yet to announce who their captain will be for the 2012-13 season yet. The announcement should come sometime in the coming weeks. Last season, they announced Brandon Segal was to be their captain on October 27th.
-Hog Talk is back for 2012-13. This Monday, forwards Jimmy Hayes, Andrew Shaw, and assistant coach Ben Simon were featured on the program, which is now being held at District Bar and Grill instead of Granite City Food and Brewery. Another change for Hog Talk is that it isn’t on the radio anymore. But it is recorded and now broadcasted on channel 23.2 in Rockford on Tuesday nights at 6-7 p.m. Next Monday’s Hog Talk will feature defenseman Nick Leddy and forward Martin St. Pierre.
Friday, October 19 at Peoria at 7:05 p.m.
Saturday, October 20 vs Charlotte at 7:05 p.m.
Sunday, October 21 vs Charlotte at 5:05 p.m.