Chicago Blackhawks Farm Report: Mark McNeill's Arrival in Rockford This Weekend

Posted 03/23/2012 - 07:41 by HockeyPolls

Chicago Blackhawks fans itching for some hockey action would do well to hop on I-90 and take in a Rockford Ice Hogs game over the weekend. The 'Hawks faithful can wait until Sunday's tilt with Nashville or they could get a look at the future.

Mark McNeill, the Blackhawks' first pick in the 2011 NHL draft, is set to make his pro debut in Rockford this weekend. The Ice Hogs host the Houston Aeros for two games Friday and Saturday at the BMO Harris Bank Center.

The 18th overall pick last summer, McNeill's season in the WHL came to an end when Prince Albert finished out of a playoff spot. The Blackhawks have loaned the 19-year-old to Rockford to break his maiden journey in professional hockey.

McNeill was second on the Raiders in scoring this season with 31 goals and 40 assists. The 6'2", 210-pound center may wind up in Rockford full time next season.

Two former first-rounders may be in action for the Ice Hogs this weekend, as Kyle Beach is nearly set to go after a shoulder injury kept him out of commission for most of the season. Also making his pro debut with the team is newly signed winger Terry Broadhurst, whom Rockford signed to a amateur tryout contract this week.

Broadhurst, whose brother, Alex, was a seventh-round selection last summer by the 'Hawks, just finished his junior year at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, where he was the team captain. The 22-year-old Orland Park, Illinois native had 16 goals and 20 assists this season and signed a two-year entry-level deal with Chicago on Monday.

McNeill and Broadhurst join Dartmouth defenseman Connor Goggin as new additions to the Ice Hogs. Goggin signed a amateur tryout with Rockford last week and has appeared in three games.

The Ice Hogs could use the extra help with two of their scoring leaders out right now. Ben Smith is done for the season after undergoing endoscopic surgery on a right hip labral tear as well as a hernia. Brandon Pirri, who leads Rockford with 50 points, has been out of the lineup with a knee injury since March 3rd.

Rockford is making a desperate push for a spot in the AHL playoffs. With 11 games left and the Ice Hogs eight points out of the final seed in the Western Conference, it doesn't look good. Still, the new additions as well as the return of Beach could make for some exciting hockey in the final weeks.

 

Could a Defenseman Get the Call This Weekend?

With 'Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith about to receive a potential suspension for his elbow to the head of Daniel Sedin Wednesday night, Chicago might find themselves short on the blue line for a few games.

Might Keith's league-imposed vacation result in Ryan Stanton being recalled in the next few days?

Stanton is a big defenseman (6'2", 205 pounds) who has teamed with Ice Hogs captain Brian Fahey to form an impressive top unit in Rockford over the last few months. Stanton would be the ninth Ice Hog to be recalled to the 'Hawks this season.

Fahey is a veteran who knows the ropes and had a cup of coffee with Washington last season but is on an AHL contract. He would have to be signed to an NHL contract before any talk of joining the Blackhawks could commence.

Stanton has worked very hard and improved his game since being signed as a free agent two years ago. The 22-year-old Stanton would be the logical choice if the Blackhawks needed an extra player for a few games.

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