Road Trip Diary Day 3: So Whats Been The Difference?
03/31/2011 9:16 PM - Mike Peck
Former IceHogs coach and current Blackhawks assistant Mike Haviland used to say one of my favorite lines: “There were too many passengers out there tonight”
I think that best sums up why Rockford has been playing so well over the past five weeks-there aren’t a whole lot of passengers on the ice. Everybody seems to be rowing in the same direction, more than just Jeff Taffe have been scoring, and team defense has improved greatly really helping the goaltenders get into a groove.
Hannu Toivonen has a legitimate chance at winning goalie of the month for March as his numbers read 7-2-1-1 with a .932 save percentage and a 2.43 goals against average. The most impressive stat, however, regarding Toivonen’s March is the fact that all seven of his wins came against teams that would be in the playoffs if they started on April 1.
He was the only goalie to beat the Lake Erie Monsters in March, and he did it twice. He beat the Western Conference’s top team, the Milwaukee Admirals, two times as well.
Another player who could earn some consideration for a monthly league award is rookie winger Ben Smith. Smitty tallied eight goals and added an assist in March, nearly doubling his goal scoring output. He now has 17 tallies on the season, second most on the IceHogs.
Back to Taffe for a second. I don’t think the IceHogs have ever had a player with a more lethal shot than Jeff Taffe. Matt Prefontaine has coined the area above the hash marks and face-off circle in the offensive zone as Taffe’s trapezoid and I love seeing him tee up slap shots from that area. I bet of his 26 goals this season, half of them have been scored from that area on the ice.
My first impression of Jimmy Hayes was very positive as well on Wednesday. Making his pro debut, I thought Hayes used his big 6-5 frame to his advantage and showed that he wasn’t afraid to go to the net. Once again, just a small sample size, but I liked the first look!
Today was another travel day for the IceHogs as we went from wet, snowy, gloomy Cleveland to sunny and warm Oklahoma City. For the first time in the four seasons that we’ve been in the AHL, we had a connecting flight. And we have to do it again on Saturday on our way to Austin.
We actually flew back to Chicago before connecting at O’Hare for OKC. The planes were smaller American Eagle planes and I know there wasn’t a whole lot of head room for Jassen Cullimore sitting behind me.
Our gear went on a bit of an adventure as well. Some of it ended up on the plane with us to Chicago and then to OKC. The rest went to Dallas and then to OKC. I said it before, and I’ll say it again….some fans think our travel is glamorous, but we have to deal with the same headaches as everyone else and most of the time more as you can see here.
We ended up in Oklahoma around 3:30 p.m. today. Our hotel is at a great location as we are right across the street from the Cox Convention on one side and the trendy Bricktown District on the other. So the rink and all the dining is just out the front door.
It’s definitely nice being back in warmer weather and it only gets hotter from here. The 90’s are predicted for this weekend in Texas.
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