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Sunday, November 02, 2008

IceHogs drop two over weekend

The Rockford IceHogs dropped two home games over the weekend. The Chicago Blackhawk AAA affiliate is now tied with the Chicago Wolves for first place in the Western Division.

On Friday night, the IceHogs lost 2-1 against the Manitoba Moose. Power play goals by both teams kept the score even till Guillame Desbiens scored the winning goal in the second period. Pascal Pelletier scored a power play goal. He led the offence with five shots on goal. Corey Crawford received the loss, stopping 25 shots on goal. Cory Schneider received the win for the Moose, stopping 19 shots on goal.

Saturday’s loss 3-2 loss to the Syracuse Crunch featured Antti Niemi in net for the IceHogs. He stopped 24 shots on goal. Crunch goalie Steve Mason stopped 22 shots on goal. Mike Blunden and Pelletier each had an offensive of three shots on goal, but both players were pointless in the contest.

The IceHogs continue to be a physical team. They gave up 16 advantages to opposing teams this weekend. Looking at the stats for the league, there isn’t an IceHog listed in the top 20 players for penalty minutes. But watching these guys play, they are physical, finishing their checks and refusing to back down. The spirit of the old IceHogs from the United Hockey League just seems to have somehow lived on, but with greater skill.

As that skill level moves up to the Blackhawk, we should see a team that is more physically aggressive on the ice. That should be fun.

While the American Hockey League serves as a breeding ground for blue liners, fans also want to see some offence. What strikes me, looking at the weekend, is how the offence is spread around. In other words, the talent on the bench is balanced. Stars make it through this level to play at the next level. I want to see more from players like Jack Skille. They need to step it up.

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