IceHogs season comes to an end with loss to Grand Rapids


IceHogs season comes to an end with loss to Grand Rapids

The Rockford IceHogs season came to an end on Sunday when the Grand Rapids Griffins eliminated them in the Western Conference Semifinals of the Calder Cup Playoffs.

Rockford's first postseason appearance in five years — and third since relocating to Rockford in 2007 — was off to a pretty dominating start.

The IceHogs cruised past the Texas Stars in Round 1 with a three-game sweep, gaining revenge on the Stars who had swept the IceHogs in 2010 — the team's last postseason appearance.

But the IceHogs found themselves in an early hole in the second round as Grand Rapids quickly jumped out to a 2-0 series lead, taking full advantage of home ice. The IceHogs responded in Game 3 with a 4-1 win to cut the series to 2-1.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

In Game 4, 60 minutes wasn't enough time to declare a winner, but the 2013 AHL Champions only needed 13 seconds into overtime to take a 3-1 series lead.

With their backs against the wall, the IceHogs came up short in Game 5, falling to the Griffins, 5-3, at BMO Harris Bank Center on Sunday, effectively ending one of the team's most successful seasons.

Defenseman Stephen Johns led the IceHogs with seven points (3 G, 4 A) during the playoffs while netminder Michael Leighton posted a 2.59 goals against average and .919 save percentage in eight games.

The IceHogs finished the regular season with a 46-25-5-2 record and 99 points, which ranked fourth-best in the conference. Their 99 points was also the most Rockford has registered since its first AHL season when they compiled 98 points.

Blackhawks select Adam Boqvist with the No. 8 overall pick

Blackhawks select Adam Boqvist with the No. 8 overall pick

DALLAS — For the first time since drafting Patrick Kane first overall in 2007, the Blackhawks owned a top-10 pick in the NHL Draft. There was speculation that Stan Bowman might get aggressive and trade the No. 8 selection for immediate help if a deal made sense.

Instead, the draft couldn't have unfolded more favorably for the Blackhawks, who elected to keep the pick and drafted defenseman Adam Boqvist.

Boqvist is a 5-foot-11, 168-pound right-handed shot blue-liner who's drawn comparisons to Erik Karlsson, given his offensive ability.

“You can never have enough D, he moves the puck, he’s very active in the play, very dynamic in a lot of ways," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said on the NBCSN broadcast. "He can help our power play down the road, I am looking forward to seeing how he does in the summer and going into camp.

"There’s opportunity here on the back end with our team, and it’s going to be competitive along the way, but certainly you got a guy that can move the puck and get involved offensively, those guys are hard to find.”

He compiled 24 points (14 goals, 10 assists) in 25 games for the Brynas J20 squad in the SuperElit league, and added three goals and two assists in three playoff games. But his production dropped off when he moved up to the Swedish Hockey League, where he registered only one assist in 15 games.

As we mentioned in our NHL Draft Profile this week, there are a few concerns about Boqvist.

He's only 17 years old and isn't the best defender, meaning the Blackhawks must be patient with his development. He's also sustained head injuries over the course of his young career, which adds some risk to the equation.

Boqvist joins Henri Jokiharju and Ian Mitchell as the team's top three defensive prospects, all of whom have right-handed shots.

Stan Bowman: Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford 'progressing like he normally would'

Stan Bowman: Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford 'progressing like he normally would'

Stan Bowman likes where Corey Crawford is at this state of the offseason, he said Friday prior to the NHL Draft.

Speaking with NBC Sports Chicago's Pat Boyle, Bowman noted that while Crawford hasn't begun doing any on-ice work, that isn't unusual for players this early.

"We’ve been in contact with Corey and I think he’s been progressing like he normally would," Bowman said. "Most guys don’t do a lot of on-ice work the first couple of months of the offseason.

"Typically they get back on the ice sometime in July, some guys don’t skate until August. I think that’s sort of the plan for Corey as we go along here. I would say he’s right on the normal schedule for the offseason and we’ll just see how that goes."

That's good news for the Blackhawks, who sorely missed Crawford a year ago. The three-time Stanley Cup champion appeared in just 28 games, earning a 16-9-2 record and a 2.27 GAA.