AHL Central News: Ground Gained & Relocation

Last week was an eventful one in the American Hockey League’s Central Division, both on and off the ice. On the ice, the gap between the top two teams was made tighter. Off it, the division will lose a team to relocation at the season’s end.

Admirals Have Rare Off Week

The Milwaukee Admirals (33-9-4-3) have been the class of the AHL all season long, but they are coming off a rare winless week. They only picked up one point in their two losses and their lead in the Central Division has been trimmed down. They still have a seven-point cushion on the rest of the division and a five-point lead over the Belleville Senators for the top spot in the league.

For whatever reason, the Admirals have struggled on home ice against the Grand Rapids Griffins. The visitors won their third game, in four tries, at the Panther Arena with a 2-1 decision on Wednesday.

Some early rebound control issues from Troy Grosenick would be all the Griffins needed as they scored both their goals off of rebounds before the game was six minutes old. Grosenick settled in and stopped all 18 shots he faced after allowing the second goal.

Rem Pitlick’s 16th goal of the season cut the Griffins’ advantage in half with just over three minutes to play in the third period. However, they could not score the equalizer and lost for just the fourth time on home ice all season.

Rem Pitlick Milwaukee Admirals
Pitlick had the lone Admirals goal Wednesday night. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

The Admirals closed out their odd losing week with a 3-2 shootout loss to the Texas Stars on Friday night.

The Stars scored the lone goal of the opening period that saw 24 shots on goal between the two teams. The Admirals had a handful of good scoring chances in the frame, but could not convert.

Milwaukee went to work after the Stars doubled their lead just over a minute into the second period. With about seven minutes to play in the middle frame, Michael McCarron got the Admirals on the scoreboard with a power-play goal. He batted the puck out of midair and into the Texas net for his 10th goal of the season and fifth with Admirals. McCarron has just as many goals with the Admirals as he had with the Laval Rocket but in 16 fewer games.

With less than a minute before the second intermission, Tommy Novak fired home a wrist shot from the left circle to knot up the score at 2-2.

After a scoreless third period and overtime session, the game headed to a shootout. Frederick Gaudreau scored after Pitlick and Daniel Carr missed their attempts. Connor Ingram gave up goals on two of the three shootout attempts he saw after making 35 saves in regulation and overtime.

Player of the Week

The Admirals offense struggled with just three goals in their two games. Novak was the only player to have multiple points with his goal and assist versus Texas on Friday night. The first-year forward is now third on the team in scoring with 32 points (9 G, 23 A). He is eighth among all AHL rookies in scoring.

The Week Ahead

Wednesday, Feb. 12 vs Stars; Thursday, Feb. 13 @ Chicago Wolves; Saturday, Feb. 15 @ Manitoba Moose; Monday, Feb. 17 @ Moose

Wild Gain Ground on Top Spot

The Iowa Wild (30-14-3-3) had a huge three-win week that started with their depth players leading the way and finishing up with their stars doing what they do best. They are up to 66 points, which is the fourth-most in the AHL. They gained five points on the first-place Admirals as they try to make a run at the Central crown.

The week started with Gerry Mayhew being named the CCM/AHL Player of the Month for January. He received the honor for scoring 12 goals and adding seven assists during the month. At the time of the recognition, Mayhew led the AHL with 31 goals.

Gerald Mayhew, Iowa Wild
Mayhew named the AHL’s top player for January. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

While Mayhew has been a huge reason for the Wild’s success this season, he did not find the scoresheet during Wednesday’s game versus the San Antonio Rampage. Iowa showed off its depth in a 4-0 victory as the role players led the way.

Turner Ottenbriet was supplied the first of three straight goals from defensemen to open the scoring, 12 minutes into the first period. Ottenbriet went to the glove side for his first goal of the season. Sam Anas picked up his 35th assist of the season on the play, tying his career-high.

The Wild pulled away with three more goals in the middle frame. Matt Bartkowski scored his second goal of the season right off an offensive zone faceoff win by Connor Dewar.

Less than two minutes later, Louie Belpedio increased the lead to 3-0 by jumping on a rebound for his fourth goal on the campaign. This marked the first time the Wild had goals from three defensemen since Oct. 18 against the Manitoba Moose.

Mason Shaw was the first and only forward to score in the game, and the second player to register his first goal of the season when he scored off a Keaton Thompson rebound. Mike Liambas picked up and assist on the play, his first helper of the season.

Not only did the defense score three out of the four goals on the night, but they also made things pretty easy for goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen, who only had to face 19 shots to earn the 10th shutout of his career.

Kaapo Kahkonen Iowa Wild
Kahkonen leads all AHL goalies in wins. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

The following day, the Minnesota Wild recalled veteran defenseman Bartkowski. He played in two NHL games with Minnesota during the 2018-19 season.

The Wild welcomed in the Stockton Heat from the Pacific Division on Saturday night for a two-game weekend series. Iowa’s top stars led the way in a 5-2 victory in the first of the two contests with Anas factoring in every goal.

The Heat took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission thanks to a 5-on-3 goal late in the opening period. Nico Sturm drew the Wild even early in the second period by jamming home a Mayhew rebound. Anas was credited with the secondary assist.

Nico Sturm Iowa Wild
Sturm has provided plenty of offense this season. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Less than five minutes later, Mayhew put the Wild up 2-1 by jumping on a Josh Atkinson shot that hit Anas and firing it into the net. Stockton came back to tie the game a few minutes later before Mayhew scored again with just 19 seconds left in the period.

Anas doubled the lead five minutes into the third period with a wrist shot from the right faceoff dot. He notched his career-high fifth point of the night with an empty-net goal in the final minute of play.

Kahkonen made 36 saves to pick up his league-leading 19th win of the season.

The Wild swept the weekend series with a 7-4 win on Sunday after. It was a spirited contest that saw the two teams combine for six goals, 25 shots and 34 penalty minutes in just the first period.

Stockton opened the scoring with a power-play goal nine minutes into the game and doubled their advantage about three minutes later. Less than a minute after the second Heat goal, Belpedio started a run of five straight goals for the Wild by blasting home a one-timer off a pass from J.T. Brown.

Mayhew redirected a Thompson shot on its way by to tie the game with just under five minutes to play in the opening frame. Shaw scored his second goal of the season and week by knocking the puck out of midair to give the Wild a 3-2 lead three minutes later. Luke Johnson’s power-play goal in the final minute of play capped off a crazy first period.

The Heat swapped goaltenders to start the second period, but the onslaught continued just 1:27 in. Defenseman Brennan Menell’s scored on a one-timer, set up by Anas, for his fifth goal of the season.

Brennan Menell Minnesota Wild
Menell has been providing offense from the blue line. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Stockton came back with a pair of goals from Rinat Valiev and Luke Philp just 52 seconds apart to pull to within one, midway through the second period. Late in the frame, while on a penalty kill, Brown made a nice move by faking a slap shot before dancing the puck around goaltender Jon Gillies for his eighth goal of the season.

Mayhew added a goal of the empty-net variety for the third period’s lone tally. Goaltender Mat Robson made 24 saves to improve to 6-0-1-0 over his last seven starts.

The Wild are now 16 games over .500 for the first time on franchise history. They have also set a new team record with eight straight home wins and their current overall six-game winning streak is tied for the longest the team has ever had.

Player of the Week

Anas and Mayhew have been the two biggest keys to the Wild’s success this season. Anas gets the honor for scoring two goals to go along with his six assists. He is the first player in the AHL to record 40 assists this season and leads the league in scoring with 57 points; two ahead of Mayhew.

Sam Anas, Iowa Wild
Anas leads the AHL in scoring. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

The Week Ahead

Tuesday, Feb. 11 vs Rampage; Friday, Feb. 14 vs San Diego Gulls; Saturday, Feb. 15 vs Gulls

Wolves Earn Split Up North

The third-place Chicago Wolves (23-21-3-2) took two out of a possible four points last week. Their 51 points have them in a playoff spot but in danger of falling out of a postseason berth as they are just one point ahead of fifth place.

The Wolves headed north of the border for a pair of games at the Moose to close out a stretch of three straight games against their rival from Manitoba. Despite outplaying the Moose for much of the final 40 minutes, the Wolves were on the short end of the stick in a 3-2 loss.

Jermaine Loewen’s night came to end eight minutes into the game when he received a game misconduct for fighting at the puck drop. This is the second time this season he’s been kicked out of a game for this reason.

After the Moose broke the scoreless tie late in the first period, the Wolves cashed in on an early second-period power play. Lucas Elvenes fired a shot, from the left circle, through a screen for his 11th goal of the season.

Defenseman Nic Hague broke the tie with his first AHL goal of the season just over three minutes later. The large and agile blueliner made a nifty toe-drag move between two defenders while quickly firing a wrist shot into the far top corner of the net.

Oscar Dansk was credited with an assist on the play, picking up the first point for a Wolves’ goaltender this season.

The Moose tied the game late in the middle frame thanks to a friendly bounce off the end boards, which caught Dansk out of position. Jake Bischoff was called for a questionable tripping penalty with about four minutes left in regulation and the Moose converted on the ensuing power play for the game-winning goal.

Dansk was back in between the pipes for Friday night’s rematch and he stopped all 25 shots he faced in 2-0 shutout of the Moose.

Gage Quinney scored the only goal the Wolves would need on a first-period power play. Valentin Zykov provided a screen that aided Quinney’s wrist shot from the left faceoff dot to find the back of the net.

Tye McGinn added an empty-net goal late in regulation to seal the deal. It was McGinn’s team-high 14th goal of the season and fourth against his former team.

Tye McGinn Chicago Wolves
McGinn has haunted his former team this season. (Courtesy Chicago Wolves)

On Saturday, the Vegas Golden Knights announced that Cody Glass would be heading to Chicago. He had five goals and 12 points in 37 NHL games before being injured on Jan. 4. The 20-year-old center had seven goals and 15 points in the Wolves’ run to the Calder Cup Final last spring. He will be joined by Nicolas Roy, who made the familiar journey between Sin City and the Windy City.

Player of the Week

Dansk started both games in Manitoba, marking the second time he has started on consecutive nights this season. He allowed three goals on 56 shots and picked up his third shutout of the season on Friday night. The Swedish-born netminder is now 13-1-2 since the start of December.

The Week Ahead

Thursday, Feb. 13 vs Admirals; Saturday, Feb 15 vs Griffins; Sunday, Feb. 16 vs Cleveland Monsters

Griffins Flying High

Five weeks ago, the Griffins (22-21-3-4) were at the bottom of the standings, but a recent surge has them tied for third place and right in the thick of the playoff race. They earned five points in their three games last week as they look to get to the Calder Cup playoffs for the eighth straight season.

On Wednesday morning, the Griffins lost two key players off their roster when the Detroit Red Wings have recalled forward Taro Hirose and defenseman Gustav Lindstrom. Hirose had four goals and 15 assists in the first 22 games of his AHL career and led the team in scoring since Dec. 3.

The lineup changes did not affect the Griffins too much as they were able to take home a 2-1 win in Milwaukee Wednesday night. The Griffins are one of the few teams who have had success against the Admirals this season. This was their third straight win over them and the Griffins are responsible for four of their nine regulation losses this season.

Jarid Lukosevicius, playing in his first game since Jan. 11, helped get the scoring started just over three minutes into the game. Chase Pearson hammered home the rebound off of Lukosevicius’ shot for his seventh goal of the season.

The Griffins cashed in on another rebound to double their lead two and a half minutes later. This time, it was Joe Veleno who scored when he got to the puck after Dylan McIlrath’s original shot was stopped.

Joe Veleno Grand Rapids Griffins
Veleno has been great since returning from the World Junior Championship. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Calvin Pickard made 29 saves top pick up his fifth win in his last six AHL starts. The Admirals scored their lone goal of the evening with about three minutes to play in the third, but Pickard stood tall for the rest of the way.

On Saturday afternoon, the Red Wings reassigned defenseman Dennis Cholowski back the Griffins. He was not in the lineup that evening when the Griffins began a huge two-game set against the Stars. The visitors drew first blood with a 4-3 win in overtime.

Despite the loss, the Griffins felt good about leaving the ice with a very important point after falling behind 3-0 before the clock ran out on the first period. Texas opened the scoring with a power-play goal before tacking on two more goals later in the frame to take a big lead into the first intermission.

The Griffins mounted a comeback by scoring three power-play goals starting with a pair by Evgeny Svechnikov late in second period. The first one came when a blocked shot found him all alone at the right post for an easy tally. Just over four minutes later, he deflected Moritz Seider’s shot into the net for his eighth goal of the season.

Evgeny Svechnikov Grand Rapids Griffins
Svechnikov had a huge weekend versus Texas. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

The Stars got themselves in more penalty trouble in the third period, which led to another power-play strike for the Griffins. Eric Tangradi won a puck battle in front of the net and lifted into the top left corner for his seventh goal of the season.

The Stars had a late power play, but could not convert as Pickard stood tall to send the game to overtime for the fifth time in the last seven games at the Van Andel Arena.

In the opening minute of the extra time, Matt Puempel took a hooking penalty and the Stars won the game and the second point moments later.

Sunday’s rematch was a disaster for the first 21 minutes, but the Griffins snapped out of a funk to pull off a dominating 5-1 victory and leapfrog over the Stars in the standings.

The Griffins were outshot 17-2 in a sleepy first period, but goaltender Pat Nagle and his sharp glove hand keep the game scoreless through 20 minutes. The Stars got one past him in the opening minute of the second period, on their 18th shot.

A minute later, Chris Terry brought life his bench and the building with a one-timer from the slot for his 18th goal of the season. Terry set up the eventual game-winner goal, seven minutes later, by making a great move around a defender before setting up Michael Rasmussen’s goal from in front of the crease.

Chris Terry, Grand Rapids Griffins
Terry started the comeback on Sunday. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Svechnikov, who had assists on the first two goals, scored his third goal of the weekend, while on the power play, to increase the lead to 3-1. Two minutes later, Puempel pounced on a rebound to give the Griffins a three-goal advantage.

Defenseman Brian Lashoff finished off the scoring, early in the third period, when his shot from the left point banked off the post and the goaltender’s leg before crossing the goal line.

Nagle finished the day with 34 saves after his busy first period and took home First Star of the Game honors for his efforts.

“We had a little bit of a slow start, but we responded,” Nagle said after the game. “I got some goal support, which was awesome, and the guys did a great job battling back. It’s important for us to stick to our game and keep building off tonight’s victory.”

Player of the Week

While Andrei Svechnikov has gone viral with his lacrosse style goals for the Carolina Hurricanes, his older brother Evgeny his working his way back from a serious knee injury that cost him the 2018-19 season. He got into a groove against the Stars with a team-high three goals and five points over the weekend. He became the sixth player on the roster to score 20 points this season.

The Week Ahead

Tuesday, Feb. 11 @ Monsters; Friday, Feb. 14 vs Monsters; Saturday, Feb. 15 @ Wolves

Stars Lose Ground in Busy Week

The fifth-place Stars (23-22-2-2) had themselves a very busy week with four road games in six days. They split the four games by picking up huge wins in Milwaukee and Grand Rapids. They enter this week just one point behind the Wolves and Griffins.

The Stars’ week on the road started with a trip to Rockford and a 5-2 loss to the IceHogs. It was a forgettable night for Jake Oettinger as the young netminder struggled right out of the gate.

The IceHogs grabbed a 2-0 lead, about six minutes into the game, with a pair of goals just over a minute apart, including one on the power play.

Defenseman Emile Djuse cut the lead in half a few moments later by skating the puck behind the net and tucking a wraparound shot just inside the near post.

Another blueliner, Gavin Bayreuther, tied the game just 49 seconds later. His first shot from the point was blocked, but the puck came right back to him and his second attempt found the back of the net.

The new-found momentum did not last long as the IceHogs regained their lead less than four minutes later when a bewildered Oettinger let in a shot from just inside the blue line. There was no screen and the puck never changed direction. It just wasn’t his night.

Jake Oettinger, Dallas Stars
Oettinger had a night to forget in Rockford. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Oettinger’s night ended less than two minutes later when the IceHogs scored their fourth goal of the period on just their 10th shot.

Landon Bow stopped 21 of the 22 shots he faced over the final 41:24 of the game. His only blemish came early in the second period with the IceHogs fifth and final goal.

The Stars began a busy weekend of three games in three nights with a 3-2 shootout win at the AHL-leading Admirals.

The first period saw plenty of back-and-forth action as the Stars outshot the Admirals 15-9. Tanner Kero gave the Stars a 1-0 lead when he got to the front of the net and redirect a shot by Anthony Louis for his seventh goal of the season.

Kero factored in the Stars’ second goal, very early in the middle frame, by forcing a turnover and leading a 2-on-1 up the ice. He passed over the Oula Palve who scored from the right circle for his second goal of the season and first since being acquired from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

The Admirals fought back with a pair of goals before the end of the second period, including one on the power play. The game headed to a shootout after both teams were held off the scoreboard during the third period and five-minute overtime.

Jason Robertson and Joel L’Esperance converted on their shootout attempts while Bow stopped two of the three shots he faced. He made 33 saves in regulation and overtime to pick up the road win.

The Stars traveled to Grand Rapids to open up a big two-game series against the Griffins as the two teams battle each other for the fourth and final playoff spot. They escaped with a 3-2 overtime win in a game that featured 12 combined power plays.

Anthony Louis opened the scoring on a power play, six and a half minutes into the game, on the Stars third chance from up close. Robertson added a pair of goals, three minutes apart, later in the period to build a 3-0 lead. The first came on a breakaway and his second was banked in off Griffins’ defender from behind the net.

The Stars’ need to sit in the penalty box got them in trouble. After killing off three penalties in the first period, the Griffins scored a pair of the power-play goals late in the second period to cut the Stars’ lead to just one goal. They tied the game with a third goal on the man-advantage seven minutes into the third period.

Early in overtime, the Stars went on the power play and L’Esperance scored off the post to give the Stars the extra point. The Stars went 2-for-4 on the power play while giving up three power-play goals on eight chances.

Joel L’Esperance Texas Stars
L’Esperance had a shootout and overtime goal last week. (Todd Reicher)

Sunday’s rematch got off to a dominating start, as the Stars outshot the home team 17-2 during the opening period. They finally got on the board in the opening minute of the second period. While on a power play, Robertson struck again by going five-hole from the left circle.

The Griffins woke up from their funk by tying the game a minute later. They added three more goals during the middle frame, chasing Bow from the game after giving up four goals on 16 shots. Oettinger stopped seven of the eight shots he saw, surrendering a lone goal early in the third period.

Player of the Week

Robertson had a wonderful week with three goals and six points. He even added a shootout goal for good measure. He leads the Stars with 20 goals and 35 points and is one of just three rookies in the league who have hit the 20-goal plateau.

The Week Ahead

Wednesday, Feb. 12 @ Admirals; Friday, Feb. 14 vs Rampage; Saturday, Feb. 15 vs Rampage

Icehogs End Losing Streak

The IceHogs (22-25-1-2) finally found their way back into the win column. They won two out of their three games and played well enough to sweep the week. Their 47 points have them in sixth place and three points out of a playoff spot.

The IceHogs finally snapped their six-game losing streak with a huge 5-2 win over the Texas Stars on Tuesday night. They used five goals from five different players to roll to their first victory since Jan. 19.

The Sikura brothers played a game of give-and-go, early in the first period, to give the IceHogs a 1-0. Tyler returned a pass over to his young brother, Dylan, at the right dot where he blasted home a one-timer. Dylan Sikura now has points in five straight AHL games, the longest such streak of any IceHog this season. Just over a minute later, Dylan Sikura set up John Quenneville’s power-play goal to double the lead.

Dylan Sikura Rockford Icehogs
Dylan Sikura had a big night against the Stars. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Midway through the period, the Stars tied the game with a pair of goals in less than a minute. Gabriel Gagne broke the tie, a few moments later, when his shot from just inside the blue line somehow found its way to the back of the net despite no screen or change of direction.

Brandon Hagel capped off a wild opening period by getting to the front of the net and redirecting a Ben Youds shot into the Texas net for his team-high 17th goal of the season.

Defenseman Dennis Gilbert, playing in his first game back from a lengthy stint in the NHL, finished off the scoring four minutes into the second period. He jumped on the puck in the neutral zone and then blasted a rocket home from the top of the left circle.

Goaltender Collin Delia, who was making the 100th appearance of his professional career, made 35 saves for his ninth win of the season.

On Wednesday morning, the IceHogs released Peter Quenneville from his professional tryout contract (PTO). The elder of the Quenneville brothers appeared in seven games for the IceHogs and did not register a point. The following day, the IceHogs inked former Hershey Bears captain Garrett Mitchell to a PTO.

The IceHogs picked up their second straight win with a 3-2 overtime victory over the San Antonio Rampage on Friday night. They were able to find a way to win despite a dismal 0-for-7 performance on the power play.

After a scoreless opening 20 minutes, the Rampage opened the scoring in the first minute of the second period just seconds after an IceHogs’ power play expired.

Alexandre Fortin got the goal back just before the second intermission by showing off his stick-handling ability to finish off a shorthanded breakaway. The unassisted goal was his fourth of the season and the eighth shorthanded goal for the IceHogs.

Alexandre Fortin Rockford Icehogs
Fortin is healthy and producing. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Dylan McLaughlin helped to give the IceHogs a 2-1 lead late in the third period. He skated around the offensive zone before finding defenseman Nicolas Beaudin in the high slot where he fired home a wrist shot for his third goal of the season. The lead was short-lived as the Rampage tied the game, off a rebound, just over a minute later.

In overtime, Lucas Carlsson led the rush up ice and made a great pass through the slot to Quenneville, who quickly fired the puck into the cage for the game-winning goal. Delia made 22 saves to pick up his second win in as many games.

The IceHogs could not complete the sweep or close out a perfect week as they dropped Saturday’s rematch with the Rampage. 3-2.

After a miserable night on the power play on Friday, Quenneville scored on the man-advantage just past the halfway point of the opening period. His goal from the right circle was his 12th of the season and fourth in the last five games.

The Rampage tied the game about five minutes later by taking advantage of a Dmitry Osipov turnover in the right corner. They took a 2-1 lead in the opening minute of the second period when Delia thought he had the puck underneath hi, but it somehow squirted over the goal line.

The IceHogs drew even with another power-play goal before the second intermission. This time, Carlsson’s shot hit the crossbar and went right to the stick of Gagne at the side of the net, where he batted it into a wide-open net.

The Rampage scored the lone goal of the third period with 13 minutes to play and the IceHogs were unable to draw even.

“It’s a simple game, but we just make it difficult on ourselves sometimes,” head coach Derek King said Saturday night. “As a coach, you watch other teams, they make a mistake and nothing happens – they end it there. That’s what we have to do. We have a tendency to let it snowball.”

Player of the Week

The IceHogs had four players to score at least three points last in Fortin, Quenneville, Dylan Sikura and Carlsson. Quenneville gets the honor for scoring a goal in all three games, including the big overtime winner against the Rampage on Friday night. Since returning from the Chicago Blackhawks on Jan. 14, Quenneville has four goals and seven points in 10 games.

John Quenneville Rockford Icehogs
Quenneville has been great since his return from the NHL. (Rockford IceHogs)

The Week Ahead

Wednesday, Feb. 12 @ Moose; Thursday, Feb. 13 @ Moose; Saturday, Feb. 15 vs Monsters

Rampage Get Bad News

It was a trying week for the Rampage (17-19-7-5) as they began a road trip that will keep them out of their home arena until Feb. 28. The managed to earn three points in three games, despite some franchise-altering news that broke mid-week.

The Rampage started off on their season-long 10-game road trip thanks to the annual San Antonio Rodeo. The offense failed to show up in a 4-0 loss at the Iowa Wild on Wednesday night.

Ville Husso gave up a goal in the first period and three more during the middle frame. He made 23 saves on the evening. Meanwhile, the Rampage only got 19 shots on goal, with nine of them coming in the third period. This was the first time the Rampage was held off the scoreboard this season.

On Thursday, Spurs Sports & Entertainment announced the sale of the Rampage to the Vegas Golden Knights. Pending approval from the AHL Board of Governors, the team will relocate to Nevada next season.

As we mentioned last week, Wolves chairman Don Levin said his team’s relationship with Vegas would be over after this season. No word on if the St. Louis Blues and Wolves will reunite next season. Chicago was the Blues’ AHL affiliate between 2013 and 2016.

The road trip continued with a pair of games in Rockford. The IceHogs drew first blood with a 3-2 overtime win on Friday night.

Klim Kostin gave the Rampage a 1-0 lead just 53 seconds into the middle frame. Moments after being released from the penalty box, Kostin drove hard up the right-wing and tucked a backhand shot into the Rockford net for his 10th goal of the season.

The IceHogs responded with a shorthanded goal to even up the score with just over a minute to play in the period. The Rampage has now allowed nine shorthanded goals on the season. Rockford took a 2-1 lead late in the third period moments after Cam Darcy was denied on a breakaway.

The Rampage tied the game just 70 seconds later during a mad scramble in front of the Rockford night. Niko Mikkola’s backhand shot off a rebound skipped up and landed just shy of the goal line where Austin Poganski swept it into the net to even things up.

Austin Poganski San Antonio Rampage
Poganski had a big weekend in Rockford. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Late in overtime, Mitch Reinke’s shot from the point missed wide and it led to a 2-on-1 rush for the IceHogs, where they scored the game-winning goal.

Saturday’s rematch was a better outcome for the Rampage as the picked up their first win of the road trip. The 3-2 victory was the team’s first in Rockford since Nov. 10, 2017.

Head coach Drew Bannister was forced to dress seven defensemen. Ryan Olsen received a match penalty for a check to the head on Friday night and served his one-game suspension.

The Rampage had a quick response after the IceHogs broke the scoreless tie with a first-period power play. Poganski forced a turnover in the right corner and got the puck to Nathan Walker in front of the net for his 19th goal of the season.

Mike Vecchione was credited with his 19th goal of the season, tying Walker for the team lead, just 46 seconds into the second period. He was the last player to get his stick on the puck as it laid in the crease with players from both teams scrambling to find it. The IceHogs drew even with another power-play goal late in the frame.

Mike Vecchione San Antonio Rampage
Vecchione is tied for the team lead in goals. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Reinke scored the game-winning goal about seven minutes into the third period. He took the puck off the right wall and sniped a wrist shot into the near top corner for his fourth goal of the season. Goaltender Husso shut the door the rest of the way and made 19 total saves on the night.

Player of the Week

Kostin was one of the four players to have a goal and an assist in Rockford, joining Poganski, Walker and Vecchione. He had a point in each game. His primary assist on Saturday’s game-winning goal gives him the nod this week.

The Week Ahead

Tuesday, Feb. 11 @ Wild; Friday, Feb. 14 @ Stars; Saturday, Feb. 15 @ Stars

Moose Need Quick Turnaround

The Moose (22-28-0-0) are in desperation mode as they find themselves in last place. They are seven points out of a playoff spot with 26 games left to try to pass four teams in the standings. It is a tough task made even tougher with a struggling offense.

On Wednesday, the Winnipeg Jets recalled forward Andrei Chibisov and reassigned defenseman Cameron Schilling in a corresponding move. He as not in the lineup when the Jets took on the St. Louis Blues Thursday night.

Andrei Chibisov Manitoba Moose
Chibisov gets a crack at the NHL. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

The Moose welcomed in the Moose for a two-game series on Thursday night. They earned some revenge for last Saturday’s loss in Chicago with a 3-2, come-from-behind victory.

Danny Moynihan, who was signed to a PTO earlier in the day, scored the lone goal of the opening period by getting to a loose puck in the slot and sweeping it home for his first career AHL goal.

“It was awesome,” said Moynihan, who missed last season because of an injury. “Especially, not being able to play last year. This is a big comeback year for me and that just made it that much extra special.”

The Wolves grabbed a 2-1 lead with a pair of quick goals early in the second period. Michael Spacek tied the game, late in the frame, thanks to a bit of good puck luck. Kristian Reichel’s initial shot went wide of the net, but the puck bounced off the end boards, right to Spacek’s stick below the right circle where he fired into a wide-open net.

The Moose were put on the power play with just over four minutes to play and they didn’t need much time to score the game-winning goal. C.J. Suess tipped a shot by Kristian Vesalainen for his 12th goal of the season.

C.J. Suess Manitoba Moose
Suess had the game-winning goal on Thursday. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Eric Comrie made 25 saves in the win, including stopping all 13 shots he faced during the third period.

The Wolves won the rubber match of the three-game series with a 2-0 victory on Friday night. They scored a power-play goal in the first period before adding a late empty-netter to finish off the scoring.

Mikhail Berdin played in his AHL-leading 37th game this season and made 22 saves in the losing effort.

Player of the Week

The Moose had seven different players find the scoresheet in Thursday’s win over Chicago. Spacek led the was the only player with two points. He scored the game-tying late in the second period and assisted on the game-winning goal late in the game.

Michael Spacek Manitoba Moose
Spacek had two points versus Chicago. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

The Week Ahead

Wednesday, Feb. 12 vs IceHogs; Saturday, Feb. 15 vs Rockford; Monday, Feb. 17 vs Admirals