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By: Amy Spivey
Rockford, Ill.- Four Rockford IceHogs skaters made their National Hockey League debuts during the 2011-12 season after starting the campaign in Rockford. Forwards Brandon Bollig, Jimmy Hayes and Andrew Shaw, along with defenseman Dylan Olsen, earned their first NHL recalls this season and skated with the Chicago Blackhawks. 

In all, eight IceHogs skaters were called up by Chicago during the 2011-12 season. In addition to Bollig, Hayes, Olsen and Shaw, forwards Jeremy Morin, Brandon Pirri and Ben Smith, along with goaltender Carter Hutton, all earned NHL recalls.

Since joining the AHL in 2007, 36 skaters have played in the NHL with the Blackhawks after appearing in a game with the IceHogs. Overall, 48 Rockford players have graduated to the NHL.

Bollig, 24, made his NHL debut on Feb. 29 in Chicago as the Blackhawks faced the Toronto Maple Leafs. The St. Charles, Mo. native appeared in 18 regular season contests with Chicago, garnering 58 penalty minutes. Bollig notched his first NHL goal on April 14 against the Phoenix Coyotes in round one of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He skated in four postseason games, tallying one point (1g) and a team-high 19 penalty minutes. In 53 contests with Rockford, Bollig scored nine points (3g-6a) and racked up 163 PIMs.

Hayes, 22, made his first NHL appearance on Dec. 30 against the Detroit Red Wings. The 6-5, 220 pound rookie notched his first NHL goal on Jan. 5 in Philadelphia, and in 31 regular season games with the Blackhawks he tallied nine points (5g-4a). Hayes also dressed for two playoff contests with Chicago, recording 15 PIMs. The Dorchester, Mass. native had 23 points (7g-16a) in 33 appearances with Rockford.

Olsen, a native of Calgary, Alberta, skated in 28 regular season games with Chicago after making his NHL debut on Jan. 5 in Philadelphia. The 21-year-old earned one assist in that span and also played in one playoff contest for the Blackhawks. The 6-3, 210 pound defenseman made 44 appearances with the IceHogs during the 2011-12 season, tallying seven points (4g-3a) and earning 44 PIMs.

Shaw, 20, also made his NHL debut on Jan. 5 in Philadelphia, scoring his first NHL goal and earning his first fighting major that night against the Flyers. The Belleville, Ontario native had 23 points (12g-11a) in 37 contests with the Blackhawks, including two game-winning goals. Shaw appeared in three postseason games, registering 15 PIMs. The rookie forward skated in 38 games with the IceHogs, earning 23 points (12g-11a), and 99 penalty minutes.

In addition, two former IceHogs skaters also made their first NHL appearances this season. Bracken Kearns, who skated in Rockford during the 2008-09 campaign, made his NHL debut on Oct. 20 with Florida and played in five games with the Panthers. Akim Aliu, who was with the IceHogs during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons, made his first NHL appearance on April 5 with the Calgary Flames, scoring three points (2g-1a) in two games.

Over the next few weeks, will review the highlights from the 2011-12 Rockford IceHogs season with "2011-12 In Review". Check back for more features from the team’s 13th season of professional hockey in Rockford.

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