I have a theory that the Hawks moved their AHL team from Norfolk to Rockford not for the proximity, but for the motivation.
Specifically, there's no greater motivator than trying to escape Rockford.
While I've been accused of being overly parochial, especially to those who live in Detroit or St. Louis, I defy anyone to tell me anything good about Rockford, other than maybe their OTB.
Anyway, it's past time we check in on the goings on with the Hawks reserve team. It has not been a pleasant year in Central (?) Illinois, even more so than usual. The Hogs have been stapled to the bottom of their division all season. However, lately they've been showing some signs of life. They've won five of their last seven and are sort of hinting at getting out of last place.
Last night, the Icehogs beat San Antonio at home 2-1 with Hugh Jeissman and Evan Brophey getting on the scoresheet. Kyle Beach had an assist, and we'll get to more on him in a minute. Hannu Toivonen (and a Hannu Toivonen to you too, sir!) won his third straight start, making 24 saves.
This followed a win in Rosemont over the Wolves on Saturday night 1-0, with Beach scoring the only goal. The night before that the Hogs took down the Texas stars in Rockford 3-1 with Beach and Jeremy Morin scoring a goal each, which would delight Hawks fans.
Kyle Beach has become the apple of the eye of the meatball quotient of the Hawks fandom. Though I should be honest here and say I have high hopes, or did, for Beach too. 54 goals in his last year in Juniors is hardly to be sneezed at. But watching him in preseason and from the various reports I see, Beach has a couple problems. While we all envision and dream of a rugged, talented, skull-crusher who scores and gets to the crease, one has to be able to skate to do that. Beach has looked a step slow all year, and won't make an impact at the NHL level until he works on his skating. It can be done, look at Troy Brouwer.
Secondly, from those who have watched the Hogs this year, Beach spent a great majority of the year exactly where he shouldn't, i.e. just chasing opponents around yapping, more concerned with settling scores, and compromising for shots from the perimeter instead of getting his big body to the net. But recently there's been signs of change. He's been skating hard every shift and has racked up 9 points in his last 8 games. Will he be in Chicago this year? Unlikely. One gets the impression that Stan Bowman isn't all thrilled with this Dale Tallon pick, and there have been rumblings he's already rubbed some in the Blackhawks dressing room the wrong way. Controversy has never been too far away from Beach since he was 16, with multiple suspensions and incidents in the Western Hockey League.
Hopefully, he continues to sort it out the rest of the year, grows up a little, and gets a step closer to being in The Show, because he's exactly what the Hawks lack. A power forward with some jam who can rile an opponent and make life tough, at least when he's forechecking and not taking dumb penalty after dumb penalty.