The Rockford IceHogs went into the All-Star Break with a 2-0-1 finish. Much of the success was because of Corey Crawford’s stellar play from Friday and Saturday.
Rockford 5, Houston 1 — On Friday night against the Houston Aeros, Rockford jumped out to a 2-0 lead within the first minute of the game with goals from Mark Cullen and Jack Skille. Aeros goalie Wade Dubielewicz was yanked. Kyle Greentree closed out the scoring in the first period with assists from Bracken Kearns and Skille.
The rest of the game was all Aeros. They outshot Rockford 10-1 in the second and 11-7 in the third. Unfortunately for them, Richard Petiot scored on the Icehogs lone shot of the second period. The power play goal was his second of the year, Simon Danis-Pepin (his second of the game) and Cullen had assists.
Corey Crawford stood tall only allowing one goal at the halfway mark of the third period and by then the outcome was no longer in doubt. He stopped 34 of 35 shots in total. Akim Aliu scored an empty-netter to clinch the 5-1 victory.
Peoria 4, Rockford 3 (SO) — Saturday night was much of the same with the Peoria Rivermen dominating the IceHogs, but once again Corey Crawford answered the bell.
For the second straight night, Rockford scored the first two goals of the game. Bracken Kearns and Matt Keith scored on the power play. Peoria scored just before the end of the first to cut Rockford’s lead to 2-1.
Evan Brophey scored his 8th goal of the season in the second with assists from Rob Klinkhammer and Akim Aliu. After that, it was all Rivermen. They outshot Rockford 30-16 in the final two periods. They scored the next two goals at the end of the second to tie the game at 3.
No one scored in the third or the overtime. So in a shootout, Akim Aliu was the only IceHog to score while Nicholas Drazenovic and old friend Pascal Pelletier scored for Peoria to give them the extra point.
Corey Crawford saved 36 of the 39 shots he faced.
Rockford 4, Grand Rapids 3 — While their parent clubs battled on national television, the two farm teams matched up in front of 4,164 on Sunday afternoon.
The IceHogs battled back from an early one goal deficit with Mark Cullen and Jack Skille notching tallies. After the Griffins tied it, Kyle Greentree (he also assisted on Cullen’s goal) scored an unassisted goal with 4 seconds left in the period.
Grand Rapids scored the lone goal of the second frame to tie the score at 3.
In the third period, Jake Dowell scored at the ten minute mark to give the IceHogs a lead they’d never lose. Danny Bois provided the lone assist.
Joseph Fallon stopped 27 of 30 shots in the win.
A note of interest from the game: Akim Aliu did not play. No word as to whether he re-aggravated the wrist injury that kept him out for nearly a month.
Rockford goes into the All-Star Break alone in 2nd place of the West Division of the Western Conference. They have 53 points in 47 games played. However, all of their divisional opponents hold at least three games at hand.
—Shawn Lalonde had no points and was a -2 in Belleville’s 4-2 loss to the London Knights on Saturday.
–In three games this weekend, Byron Froese scored three goals and added an assist as the Everett Silvertips went 3-0-0.
—Kyle Beach had no points and only 2 penalty minutes in games on Friday and Saturday. Has Beach finally turned a corner in his young career? Too soon to tell, but after November and December saw him rack up 36 penalty minutes in each month, Beach has netted only 13 minutes thus far in January. Then again, we’re only halfway through the month.
—Dylan Olsen scored his first career NCAA goal on Friday night and it turned out to be the game-winner in UMD’s 2-1 over Minnesota State. He had no points on Saturday. Dan DeLisle was a -1 in the weekend sweep of Minnesota State.
—Brandon Pirri had no points in RPI’s 3-1 loss to Union on Saturday.
—Billy Sweatt scored a goal in Colorado College’s weekend split with the University of Wisconsin.
—David Pacan had an assist in Vermont’s weekend split with Northeastern.