Article By: Mike Peck
05/21/2012 2:29 PM - A lot of people probably rolled their eyes when they saw that the Rockford IceHogs were slated to play three of their divisional opponents 12 times each in 2011-12.
In retrospect, the IceHogs wish that they could have played the Milwaukee Admirals maybe twice that. In 12 contests against their Midwest Division foes, Rockford went 10-1-0-1 and won the final nine matchups.
The only regulation loss was a 7-3 thrashing in Milwaukee on Dec. 26. From there, Rockford held the Admirals to 11 goals over the teams’ final nine contests. In seven of those nine games, Milwaukee scored just one goal.
Carter Hutton played a big role in Rockford’s domination against Milwaukee in 2011-12. Despite allowing six of those seven goals on Dec. 26, Hutton went 8-1-0 with a 1.80 goals against average and a .940 save percentage against the Ads. Taking the six-goals against out of the mix, Hutton’s SPCT is .953 with a 1.27 GAA.
Before 2011-12, Rockford’s record against Milwaukee was 18-18-1-2, so the one-sided season series came after four seasons of pretty even hockey. The IceHogs were a perfect 6-0-0-0 at the BMO Harris Bank Center after going 8-9-1-2 during the prior four campaigns.
At the end of the day, wins are what count, but just three of the 12 games last season finished with a goal difference greater than two. Five of the 12 contests finished in the shootout and seven games were decided by just one goal.
Another big key for Rockford was holding Milwaukee’s top scorers in check. Chris Mueller (32g-28a-60pts) and Kyle Wilson (22g-32a-54pts) combined to score at a rate of .32 points per game against Rockford while scoring at a .90 points per game clip against the rest of the AHL last season. The duo totaled 2g-5a-7pts in 22 games against the IceHogs.
On the flip side, All-Star center Brandon Pirri paced the IceHogs with 12 points (5g-7a) in nine games against the Admirals. Rookie d-man Joe Lavin had a -2 plus/minus rating during his first pro campaign but was a +8 against Milwaukee.
Despite their struggles against Rockford last season, the Admirals did qualify for the Calder Cup Playoffs. Against teams other than Rockford, the Ads were 38-23-2-1 (.617) while going 2-6-0-4 (.333) against the Hogs.
Limping into April, the IceHogs did provide Milwaukee with one of those proverbial turning points. Midway through the second period of the IceHogs-Admirals game on April 1, a bench clearing brawl ensued. Rockford would go on to win the game 2-1 in a shootout, but Milwaukee would finish the campaign 6-1-0-1 to gain a playoff spot.
The 10 wins against an opponent in a season is the most for Rockford during the team’s AHL era and matches the all-time franchise mark set twice in the UHL days (2006-07 vs. Bloomington; 2005-06 vs. Missouri).
Season Tickets for 2012-13 Now on Sale: Season ticket packages for the IceHogs 14th season of professional hockey in Rockford, including sixth as the AHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks, are now on sale. Call (815) 847-6399 to reserve your seats or visit icehogs.com for more information.