The IceHogs have been plagued by two things so far this year; slow starts and dumb penalties. Last night in Grand Rapids was no different. Riley Sheahan's 2nd goal of the year gave the Griffins an early 1-0, just 2:10 into the game. It did not take long for the Hogs to respond. Shawn Lalonde's 2nd goal of the year, at the 5:40 mark, tied the game at 1. Just 36 seconds later Brandon Saad, in his first game back from injury, scored his first professional goal on a breakaway. Jimmy Hayes picked up the lone assist on each goal. The IceHogs's lead would only last about 6 minutes as Brendan Smith's 2nd goal of the year tied the game up at 12:40. Sheahan's 2nd goal of the period gave the Griffins a 3-2 lead, at 16:42, that they would take into the first intermission.
While Marcus Kruger was sitting in the penalty box for tripping, Brendan Smith scored his 2nd goal of the game to give Grand Rapids a 4-2 lead, 4:37 into the 2nd frame. All 3 of Smith's goals have come against the IceHogs this season, which might have something to do with what happened next. At 6:42 of the 2nd, AHL Player of the Week, Kyle Beach was given a 5 minute major and kicked out of the game for a check to the head of Smith. Now, I have zero sympathy for Smith after his dirty hit on Ben Smith during a preseason game between the Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings last year. It sure didn't take Beach very long to return to being a shit for brains. Thankfully, Grand Rapids could not score on the ensuing 5 minute power play. In fact, Jimmy Hayes was able to score his 4th goal of the season, shorthanded, to draw the Hogs to within one goal. This was Rockford's first shorty of the year, which is surprising considering how much time they have spent on the penalty kill already.
The Griffins added an empty net goal with just 8 seconds to go in the game to ice the 5-3 victory. The IceHogs ended up out shooting Grand Rapids 30-23 but could not solve goalie Petr Mrazek in the 3rd period. Rockford only took 3 minor penalties which is a major improvement, but all of that is lost with the 15 minutes Beach racked up with one dumb hit.
The IceHogs return to the BMO Harris Bank Center tonight to take on the Milwaukee Admirals, the AHL affiliate of the Nashville Predators. The Hogs have been giving the Admirals the "red headed step-child" treatment as of late. Rockford has won the last 9 meetings between the two teams. It has been nearly a year since Milwaukee beat the IceHogs, with their last win coming on the day after Christmas last year.
The Admirals beat up on the Chicago Wolves last night, 7-3 in Milwaukee, and now embark on a season long seven game road trip. Ironically, the last time the Admirals put up seven goals in a game was that 12/26 win in Rockford last season. A win over the Hogs tonight will give them their first winning streak of the year.
Taylor Beck is the only Admiral to reach double digits in points so far, with his team leading 11 (3 G, 8 A). Rookie Patrick Cehlin leads the team with 5 goals. Brandon Pirri got fat off the Admirals last season scoring 5 goals and adding 7 assists in 12 games. In 9 starts versus Milwaukee last year, goalie Carter Hutton with 8-1-0-0 with a 1.8 GAA and a .94 save %.