'Begin of one thing good': How Rockford IceHogs hockey bought its swagger again – Rockford Register Star

ROCKFORD — It could solely be a small pattern dimension, however the current tendencies present that each the Rockford IceHogs and their goalie, who’s again in net after a stint within the NHL, Collin Delia, could have their swagger again.
Of their first two video games of 2022, the Hogs exploded for 14 objectives to tie a staff report for probably the most objectives scored in a two-game span.
Using sturdy stretches from surging ahead Lukas Reichel, who posted 4 factors on Friday, and returning star Brandon Pirri, who had a hat trick Saturday, in addition to a back-in-form Delia, who allowed simply two objectives in these two video games, the Hogs want to construct some critical momentum proper now.
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“It is a actually good signal,” interim head coach Anders Sorensen mentioned. “The fellows have actually been taking part in nicely. … Including Brandon Pirri clearly helped there, and your Lukas Reichels of the world are actually discovering their video games right here.”
Rockford’s house recreation Tuesday was postponed due to league COVID-19 protocols affecting the Iowa Wild and was rescheduled for Feb. 15. The Hogs at the moment are at house for the subsequent six straight, beginning with a matchup with Cleveland at 7 p.m. Friday and at 6 p.m. Saturday.
Delia is the lone goalie on the Hogs’ roster proper now with any AHL expertise. Tom Aubrun, who was 0-2 final season in his solely begins with the Hogs, was referred to as up from the ECHL’s Indy Gas to Rockford simply earlier than the brand new yr.
All in December, the opposite three goalies with time within the net for the Hogs this season had been gone. Malcolm Subban was traded and Cale Morris and Arvid Soderblom had been each referred to as as much as Chicago and at the moment are on the taxi squad.
This has changed into Delia’s alternative to point out what he can do in Rockford once more.
“That is the beginning of one thing actually good for me,” mentioned Delia, who has allowed 4 objectives in his final 4 video games. “That is my fifth yr within the group and I have been by the highs and I have been by the lows, and there is actually nothing I have never seen… Now my objective is to be extra constant.”
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Delia was the groups starter, and one in all its stars, from 2017-2020, however then he performed in simply 15 video games for Rockford the previous two seasons as he battled for his slot within the crease in Chicago with the Blackhawks. However now that Chicago has Marc-Andre Fleury, and Delia’s former Hog teammate Kevin Lankinen has stepped into the back-up position, Delia is attempting as soon as once more to search out his area of interest.
“I am actually targeted on my course of and my recreation plan, and the way I need to present up and the way I need to put together,” Delia mentioned. “After which a variety of the vitality and focus goes into simply what the staff wants.”
He’s 6-4-1-1 on the season with a 2.51 objectives in opposition to common and a .920 save share. However he is clearly getting higher and higher. His 30-save efficiency on Friday netted him his first shutout of the season.
“I am simply attempting to be extra constant,” mentioned Delia, who went from permitting 12 objectives in a three-game stretch in early December to giving up simply two within the subsequent three video games later within the month. “What it actually comes all the way down to is me being assured in my crease play. Difficult shooters and feeling good about the way in which I am composing myself. … So it has been good to be in Rockford, and get a variety of motion, and assist me strengthen that.”
Contemporary off the 17-day break, a lot of it due to COVID-19 protocols, Reichel was the primary Hogs participant to register a four-point recreation since 2015 with a pair of objectives and two assists to vault the Hogs over the Chicago Wolves (20-5-1-1) with an 8-0 victory on Friday. Rockford has handed Chicago 4 of its 5 losses on the season.
Reichel scored three objectives and had three assists within the two video games final weekend, incomes him the AHL Participant of the Week award. He added a objective and an help on Saturday at Milwaukee, and was the primary Hogs participant to earn the AHL’s weekly award since 2017.
“I feel it was fairly thrilling. We simply performed good as a staff,” Reichel mentioned. “It was solely like two video games, however I need to play persistently like that, like over 10 or 15 video games. However that does give me some confidence.”
After which Pirri, the Hogs’ all-time chief in factors (210) and assists (134) who was signed Friday, netted his fifth profession AHL hat trick and third with Rockford (13-11-1-1) in a 6-2 win over Milwaukee the subsequent day.
Pirri, 30, took the ice for the primary time in 2021-22 after skating in seven video games with the Hogs final season, scoring eight objectives and including two assists. Pirri has 138 objectives and 201 assists and gained the John B. Sollenberger Trophy because the AHL’s high point-scorer with 75 factors in the course of the 2012-13 season with the Hogs. He has appeared in 4 AHL All-Star Video games.
And now after this sizzling begin, he’s simply 11 objectives away from tying Jeremy Morin (90) for the Hogs’ all-time objective scoring report.
“I feel that point off the ice actually helped him,” Sorensen mentioned of Pirri’s first half of the season. “Now, that has actually lifted his on-ice efficiency.”
Jay Taft: jtaft@rrstar.com; @JayTaft

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