Rockford IceHogs (18-21-1-3) at Charlotte Checkers (25-15-2-2)
Tonight is the fifth game against Rockford this year. The Checkers are 3-0-0-1, and most recently beat them in a shootout on December 30 in Rockford. Two game have ended in a shootout.
- Rockford is last in the Midwest division, but they are on a four-game winning streak, and are 7-3-0 in their last 10 games.
- Every time Charlotte has played Rockford, the same theme of the underdogs having a lot of fight has carried through. On paper, the IceHogs are a confusing team of crazy statistics, and when you least expect it, they come through and win games they shouldn’t. Basically, what I’m saying is that they are more than a losing-record last-place in the Western conference kind of team.
- After a few weeks of barely having enough healthy players to fill the lineup on game nights, the Checkers had 14 forwards and seven defensemen at the morning skate. They were down a goalie, but had the skills of Jason Shaya until the new backup arrives, but more on that later.
- IceHogs starting goaltender Alexander Salak hasn’t played since December 2, when he was injured in a game.
- John Muse will get the start in net. This will be his first consecutive start, after winning in Norfolk on Tuesday night. He is 4-0 this season, with a 0.81GAA and .976 SV%.
- Charlotte’s regular starter, Mike Murphy, did not take part in the morning skate, and will not play tonight.
- The Checkers will have a new back up tonight named Pier-Olivier Pelletier, from Saint-Louise-du-Ha! Ha!, Quebec. Yes, that is really the name of his hometown, and no I’m not making it up. The entire population of his hometown (1,471) would fit in my theater. Pelletier, who becomes the first hyphenated French Canadian on the squad, has been playing in the CHL this year.
- Brandon Pirri and Ben Smith were reassigned to Rockford yesterday by the Blackhawks. Pirri leads the IceHogs in points with 41 (18G, 23A), and Smith has 21 points (12G, 9A).
- ECHL call up Carter Hutton has taken the reigns in net, and the team has rallied behind him. He has gone 9-5-0-1 since his recall, and been a major force in the recent surge by the IceHogs. He’s started the last six games, and lost only one of them.
- New Checkers Evgenii Dadonov, AJ Jenks and Joe Sova should make their home debut tonight. The Checkers should have the same lineup as Tuesday night, with Jared Staal and Ryan Donald healthy scratches.
- Defenseman Michal Jordan leads the Checkers with five points in four games against Rockford (2G, 3A). Brandon Pirri leads the IceHogs with five points in four games against Charlotte (1G, 4A).
Gametime: 7:00 p.m. EST