Article By: Nate Haeni
04/29/2011 12:28 PM - Rockford, Ill.- The second round of the playoffs is underway in both the National Hockey League and American Hockey League and three former Rockford IceHogs skaters remain chasing the Stanley Cup and three going after the Calder Cup.
At the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs, 11 former Rockford IceHogs have competed, including nine for the Chicago Blackhawks who were eliminated from contention on Tuesday. Nine other former IceHogs have played in the 2011 Calder Cup playoffs.
Goaltender Antti Niemi has backstopped the San Jose Sharks into the Western Conference Semifinals. Niemi shows a 3-2-0 record with a 3.99 goals against average and .863 save percentage in six games. Last season, Niemi helped Chicago win their first Stanley Cup in 49 year. The Vantaa, Finland native wore an IceHogs sweater during the 2008-09 season.
Right Wing Kris Versteeg has dished out five assists in seven contests to help carry the Philadelphia Flyers into an Eastern Conference Semifinal matchup against the Boston Bruins. Versteeg put up 49 points (18g-31a) for Rockford in 2007-08.
Also still in the chase for the Cup is Kevin Klein of the Nashville Predators. Klein spent three games with Rockford during the 2004-05 season notching two goals and an assist. In his seventh pro season, Klein had 2g-16a-18pts in 81 games with the Preds this season.
In the AHL post season, former IceHogs skater Ryan Potulny has led the Binghamton Senators into the Atlantic Division finals against Portland with 16 points (8g-8a) in nine games. Potulny appeared in 58 games with the IceHogs in 2010-11 before being traded to Ottawa on Feb. 28.
J.M. Daoust (2007-08) of the Houston Aeros and Aaron Johnson (2008-09) with the Milwaukee Admirals are also still chasing the Calder Cup.
The Blackhawks were eliminated by the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7. Rockford’s all-time winningest goaltender, Corey Crawford, put together a solid post season, ranking fifth among all netminders in the playoffs with a .927 save percentage and 2.21 goals against average in seven starts.
Rookie forward Ben Smith ranked second in goals scored in the playoffs for the Blackhawks, tallying three lamp-lighters in seven games. Smith flipped in the overtime game-winning marker in Game 6 to extend the series to a seventh game.
Left Wing Bryan Bickell chipped in with four points (2g-2a) in five games before being sidelined after Game 6 with a wrist injury. After missing the first three games in the series with an upper-body injury, center Dave Bolland scored two goals and four assists for Chicago.
Center Ryan Johnson registered an assist in six games while defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson recorded two assists in seven contests for Chicago.
Wingers Troy Brouwer and Jake Dowell were held scoreless, along with rookie defenseman Nick Leddy.
Defenseman James Wisniewski (2008-09) had two helpers in six games for the Montreal Canadiens before they were knocked out by the Boston Bruins 4-games-to-3.
The Calder Cup playoffs were cut short for former IceHogs skaters Akim Aliu (2007-10), Derek Nesbitt (2007-10) and Daryl Boyle (2009-10) as they were knocked out of the playoffs when Peoria was swept by Houston in four games.
Winger Kyle Greentree (2009-10) scored a goal and assist for the Hershey Bears but they were eliminated by Charlotte. In six games for the Texas Stars, Greg Rallo (2007-08) registered two points (1g-1a).
Rockford’s top defenseman in 2009-10, Richard Petiot was held scoreless in six games for Oklahoma City before they eliminated by Hamilton.