Niemi's 34 saves not enough for Rockford
Moline, Ill.- The Chicago Blackhawks signed goalie Antti Niemi late last spring after his third year blocking pucks in Finland. Niemi made his North American debut on Saturday for the Rockford IceHogs against the Quad City Flames and it appears Niemi was quite the find.
The Vantaa, Finland native turned away 34 Quad City shots, but the IceHogs fell 3-1 to the Flames at the I Wireless Center.
The IceHogs and Flames skated to a scoreless first period. Niemi was tested nine times in the opening period in goal for Rockford and made a nice glove save on Dan Ryder in the high slot to keep Quad City off the board.
Unlike Friday night, penalties were scarce as both teams had one power play opportunity in the first period after 20 combined a night ago.
The game wouldn’t remain scoreless long in the second period as both teams tallied on the power play. Hugo Carpentier was first to strike for the Flames, netting his first career AHL goal. On the doorstep of the Rockford goal, Carpentier was able to jar a loose puck past Niemi at 2:33. Kyle Greentree and Adam Cracknell helped.
Rockford responded to tie the score at 1-1. Mike Blunden was set up perfectly by Tim Brent for his first goal of the season at 4:32, beating Matt Keetley. Danny Groulx also assisted on the goal.
Niemi kept Rockford in the game in the early stages of the third period, keeping Quad City off the board on three 5-on-3 power plays. The Flames, however, would break the stalemate at 12:25 of the frame while skating even strength. Cracknell knocked a rebound past Niemi for his first goal of the season and a 2-1 lead.
Later in the period with Niemi on the bench, the Flames finished off the IceHogs when Warren Peters shot home his first marker of the season into the empty net at 19:23.
Next Home Game: Sunday, Oct. 12 vs. Iowa Chops. Game time is slated for 4:05 p.m. The IceHogs and Chops meet for the first of 10 times this season on a Sunday Fundae at the MetroCentre courtesy of Culver’s, Pepsi, Rockford Library, U Gotta Jump, Comcast and 101 WQFL. Also, Patrick Star from the hit Nickelodeon series "SpongeBob Squarepants" will be making a guest appearance to visit with IceHogs fans!