Road Swing Begins in Rockford Tonight

Former Rockford IceHog Evan Brophey extended his point streak to four games with an assist on Wednesday against Houston, but it was the Aeros who halted the Monsters three-game win streak, and handed them their first regulation loss since November 5th. Tonight, the Monsters hope to begin a new winning streak against Rockford in the first of four meetings this season between the two clubs.

The Monsters lineup boasts three former IceHogs overall: Brophey, who is the Hogs' all-time games played leader, Hugh Jessiman, and Mike Brennan. While the Monsters have a trio who is used to playing in Rockford, the current IceHogs team has yet to reach that point; they’re just 3-7-0-0 on home ice this season.

Tonight also marks the start of a season-long six-game road swing, and the games don’t get easier following tonight. With Rockford entering the evening at 8-10-1-0 and last place in the five-team Midwest Division, the Monsters need to take advantage of this opportunity against a team still looking to find its stride. Two games against Midwest Division-leading Charlotte, and two games against a strong Abbotsford team loom on the horizon.

The biggest key tonight for the Monsters will be making quality use of time on the power play. Rockford boasts the 29th-ranked power play unit in the league; only San Antonio has struggled more with a man in the box. Furthermore, the Monsters had scored power play goals in five straight games prior to Wednesday night’s 2-1 loss to Houston, a game in which the Monsters only had one power play opportunity. The Monsters were 4-0-0-1 over the five-game stretch of games in which they had scored a power play tally, and prior to that streak, had not scored a power play goal in back-to-back games.

Defensively, the Monsters hold an upper-hand entering tonight’s matchup as well. Lake Erie has surrendered 2.76 goals per game this season, compared to 3.63 goals against per game for Rockford. All told, there will be scoring opportunities for the Monsters, and they’ll need to capitalize early to start this road swing off with a jolt of momentum.

In terms of players to watch, Brophey’s point streak and return to Rockford figure to give him a bit of jump in his step entering this evening. The trio of Brophey, Greg Mauldin, and David van der Gulik generated a majority of the Monsters best scoring chances on Wednesday, and based on their recent success, much of the same should be expected from the veteran forward line.

For Rockford, everything seems to begin with puck-moving defenseman Brian Connelly. His 18 assists in 19 games place him third in the AHL, and first among defenseman.

Tonight’s game in Rockford can be heard live on AM 1220 WHKW, with coverage beginning at 7:55 PM Eastern.

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