Rockford, Ill. – The Chicago Blackhawks announced on Monday they have assigned forwards Luke Johnson, Tanner Kero, Martin Lundberg, defensemen Erik Gustafsson, Robin Norell, Ville Pokka, and goaltender Lars Johansson to the Rockford IceHogs. The Blackhawks have also released forwards Chris DeSousa and Jake Dowell from their tryout agreements. All nine players will report to IceHogs training camp.
Dowell, 31, served as the IceHogs team captain last season. In 72 games with Rockford, Dowell notched 11 goals and 24 assists. The Eau Claire, WI native has played 274 games with Rockford during his career, scoring 31 goals and adding 64 assists for 95 points. He currently holds the record for most postseason games in Rockford’s history, appearing in 23 playoff contests.
Kero, 24, returns to Rockford after a successful rookie campaign. He played 17 games with the Blackhawks last season with three points (1G, 2A) including his first NHL goal against the New Jersey Devils in November. Last season, Kero became the first rookie in IceHogs history to score 20 goals and he finished the year with 39 points (20G-19A) in 60 games with Rockford.
DeSousa, 26, notched 13 points in 67 games with Rockford last season. He also played two games with Rockford’s ECHL affiliate, the Indy Fuel, after playing in 20 games (7G,9A) in 2014-15 for the Fuel. DeSousa signed an AHL contract with the club in April.
Johnson, 21, joins the IceHogs after playing three seasons with the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks. The Grand Forks, ND native was a member of the 2016 NCAA Division I Championship team with current teammates Bryn Chyzyk in Rockford and Nick Schmaltz in Chicago. Johnson appeared in 43 games and tallied 11 goals and 11 assists while capturing the National Championship. He was named to the NCAA Midwest Region All-Tournament Team after scoring a goal in each game. Johnson was drafted #134 overall in the fifth round by the Blackhawks in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft and signed a 3-year contract with Chicago in April.
Lundberg, 26, enters his first season with the IceHogs after playing professionally in his native country, Sweden. Last season, he recorded career highs in points (21), goals (13) and assists (8) with Skelleftea AIK of the Swedish Hockey League. Lundberg signed a one-year contract with the Blackhawks in May.
Pokka, 22, of Tornio, Finland appeared in all 76 games for the IceHogs last season and led all IceHogs defensemen with 45 points (10G-35A). In 2014-15 he received Rookie of the Year honors for Rockford after recording eight goals and 22 assists in 68 games.
Gustafsson, 24, split time last season with Rockford and the Blackhawks. He compiled three goals and eight assists for 11 points in 27 games with the IceHogs and 14 assists in 41 games for Chicago. The Swedish blueliner made his NHL debut last October.
Norell, 21, played eight games with Rockford last season and recorded two assists. The Stockholm, Sweden native was drafted #111 overall in the fourth round by the Blackhawks in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
Johansson, 29, has played the last three seasons with Frolunda HC in the Swedish Hockey League, where he compiled a record of 56-27-0 with 11 shutouts. Johansson signed a one-year contract with Chicago in May.
The IceHogs training camp roster now consists of 19 forwards, 10 defensemen, and four goalies. Rockford hosts a preseason contest against the Chicago Wolves on Thursday, Oct. 6 before traveling to Milwaukee for preseason action on Friday, Oct. 7.
Home Opener: Saturday, Oct. 22 vs. Milwaukee at 7 p.m. The IceHogs open their 18th season of professional hockey at the BMO Harris Bank Center with the first home game of the 2016-17 season. The first 5,000 fans to enter the arena will receive an IceHogs calendar compliments of BMO Harris Bank. For tickets visit IceHogs.com or call (815) 968-5222.