IceHogs: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Rockford IceHogs // Flickr)
This is Kevin Fiala. Kevin Fiala is good at shootouts. (Photo Credit: Rockford IceHogs // Flickr)

“Oh dear, it’s those dastardly Rockford IceHogs again. And they’re looking to spoil all the Milwaukee Admirals fun from last night. What ever shall we do?”

Fret ye not, fictitious  Admirals fan that I just made up using a quote without an author attached. The Admirals and IceHogs are about to meet for the eighth time this season and it is the Admirals leading the season series with a record of 5-2-0-0 to this point.

Of note, three of the seven games played in this season series has gone past regulation and two of those three overtime games have required a shootout. The Admirals have come out on top in all of those circumstances including an overtime and shootout win on the road in Rockford.

Perhaps another note worth mentioning, considering this game is in Rockford, is that the Admirals have won all three games played in Rockford so far this season. For the IceHogs this game might be less to do with beating the Admirals to close the gap in the Central Division standings and more to do with just showing that the IceHogs can win on home ice against the Admirals. It’s an important game for them in both respects. With so few games left in the season series, five including today’s contest, the IceHogs are slowly putting themselves in a place where they will be needed outside help to slow the Admirals down should they let this head-to-head go bust. I’m expecting a playoff level intensity level from the IceHogs. The Admirals, coming off of a stressful third period survival style win last night, need to match that intensity and be smart with their details.

~Short & Sweet~

The IceHogs will be entering this game with a record of 19-9-2-3 (43 points) which sees them in second place of the Central Division. They trail the Admirals for the divisional lead by 0.039 percentage points.

In the last ten games the IceHogs have gone a very average 4-4-1-1 and are coming off of a 2-0 shutout loss on the road last night to the Chicago Wolves. Jordan Binnington stopped all 28 shots the IceHogs labeled at him and the IceHogs power-play went 0/5 on the night.

~Oh, Him. Great.~

Ryan Hartman served and completed his three-game suspension for his illegal check to the head of Trevor Murphy when these two teams last locked horns. I’m going out on a limb and saying that unlike last night’s Kevin Fiala versus Lake Erie Monsters scenario has a little more bad blood because someone impacted is still injured. The Admirals haven’t really shown a bad side about them in regards to proactively targeting individuals in-game. Perhaps the real thing to watch out for will be Hartman playing up the role he is known for and continuing his hard hitting in your face brand of hockey. Combine that with his history and that might let things boil over a touch.

~Leading The Oinking Oink Way~

The IceHogs currently have two players tied for the team lead in scoring, Jeremy Morin and Jake Dowell. Morin has scored 22 points (9 goals, 13 assists) in 28 games. Dowell has scored 22 points (7 goals, 15 assists) in 31 games.

Trailing those two, and actually leading the IceHogs in the goal scoring department is Mr. Hartman himself with 18 points (10 goals, 8 assists) in 28 games this season.

In net, the go-to choice is Michael Leighton for the IceHogs. He is fifth in the AHL for minutes played (1320:41) and has won 15 games from 23 appearances. Amusingly enough, it feels as if the preferred started for the IceHogs against the Admirals is his battery-mate Mark Visentin who has started four out of the seven games played in the match-up this season.

~Maz-tronomically Good~

While Juuse Saros was brilliant last night it should be Marek Mazanec getting the start later this afternoon. He has been unbelievable against the IceHogs this season: six starts, five wins, stopping 184/196 for a 0.939 save percentage and a 1.96 goals against average. That’s unreal when you remember the Admirals dropped a stinker on Mazanec’s doorstep which saw him concede 5 goals in a game. He’s been that good around that lone defeat to the IceHogs this season.

Expectations for this evening’s game? For how last night’s game ended with a rocky third period and how this one sets up with an IceHogs team looking to right some wrongs, are you concerned?

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