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No Panic Button Here

10/25/2011 3:13 PM - Mike Peck
Everyone wants to know…”What’s wrong with the IceHogs offense?” or “What needs to be done to get the offense rolling again?”

The answer is, really not a whole lot. The IceHogs scored 14 goals on their first 100 shots on goal this season through four games. That’s an average of 3.5 goals per game and a ridiculous 14.0% shooting percentage.

Over Rockford’s last two games, the IceHogs have one goal on 83 shots on goal, a 1.2%  shooting percentage, which is incredibly low. But that’s 83 shots in two games, and if anybody saw either or both of Rockford’s last two tilts with the Wolves, I think you’d agree that there were plenty of opportunities for the Hogs.

The name of the game is scoring. But the way you score a lot of goals is by gaining or earning scoring opportunities. So when a coach looks at a game film, one of the most important things that they look for is “Grade A” opportunities for and against.

Over the weekend the IceHogs had way more “Grade A” chances then Chicago did, but the goalie combo of Eddie Lack and Matt Climie were outstanding and the Wolves were able to capitalize on a higher percentage of their good chances, similar to Rockford a week prior in Abbotsford.

So no need to panic. If this was a two game stretch in December, I don’t think anybody would have bat an eye at the mini slump.

Ted Dent isn’t going to sit on his hands though as he has mixed the lines up a bit for tonight’s game. Pirri will center Beach and Smith, while Paradis, McLean and Segal will skate together as will Klinkhammer, DiDomenico and Morin and Bollig, Froese and Shaw.

Scratches tonight for Rockford are Dylan Olsen, Simon Danis-Pepin, Jimmy Hayes and Peter Leblanc. Olsen is out with an upper body injury sustained on Saturday and will continue to be evaluated.

Goalies tonight are Alec Richards for Rockford and Tyler Beskorowany for Texas.

The Stars have given up a lot of goals lately. After shutting out Oklahoma City on opening night, Texas has allowed 25 markers over their past four games, a resounding 6.25 goals per contest. Hopefully this is the remedy for Rockford to find their scoring touch again!

One Of The Good Guys Gets A Chance

10/21/2011 10:42 AM - Mike Peck
One of my favorite aspects of working in professional hockey is the people. I’m not exaggerating when I say at least 95% of the people that I have to deal with or have dealt with over the years are outstanding people.

But out of that group of hundreds of hockey people, there are certain folks who grab you even more and I find myself rooting for them no matter where they are at. I’m not going to run down the list because even that would be a little excessive.

One of these guys, however, made his NHL debut last night: Bracken Kearns. After five seasons of bouncing round the AHL (including a stop in Rockford) Kearns played in his first NHL game with the Florida Panthers against the Buffalo Sabres.

Kearns was Rockford’s Man of the Year in 2009-10 and was awarded the same honor a season ago in San Antonio. As we all know, good people who work really hard don’t always get rewarded with reaching their goal. That’s what’s so great about Kearns. He has been a fan and locker room favorite in Milwaukee, Norfolk, Rockford and now San Antonio, plus the guy busts his tail every day.

Undrafted, Kearns didn’t earn his first NHL contract until last season when Phoenix signed him to a two-way contract. Despite all the injuries in Phoenix, Kearns wasn’t chosen as a recall last year. After Phoenix moved their affiliation to Portland, Florida took over in San Antonio and Kearns was signed to his second NHL deal by the Panthers.

It doesn’t matter that Kearns got just over six-minutes of ice time last night, it’s just cool to see a player like that finally get rewarded for his hard work on and off the ice.

Kearns could be on his way back to San Antonio or he could get more games with Florida. Regardless, he reached the “show” and I know a lot of people around this organization were very excited for him.

Tonight, the IceHogs are in Chicago and the lineup will have a little different look. First off, Alexander Salak is expected to get the start in goal for Rockford. Philippe Paradis will make his IceHogs season debut tonight along with Ben Smith.

That means two regulars in the lineup will be out up front tonight and the healthy scratches will be Brandon Bollig and Byron Froese. On defense Joe Lavin will be scratched for the second straight game.

Remember that we’re on the X tonight (104.9 FM and wxrx.com).