Down on the Farm Report: IceHogs Release Darling, Tomkins Work, Krutil Signing, More

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Down on the Farm Report: IceHogs Release Darling, Tomkins Work, Krutil Signing, More

Chicago Blackhawks

The Rockford IceHogs are off to a rough start to their shortened 2021 AHL season. Still searching for their first win of the year, the IceHogs are 0-3-1 after dropping their last two games – but, hey, that was the same start as the Chicago Blackhawks. Maybe the response to the 0-3-1 start with the IceHogs will be similar to what we saw in Chicago. That would be nice.

Even though they have dropped all four games and have just one point in the standings, it’s not like the IceHogs have looked terrible. Outside of a 5-2 loss to the Chicago Wolves, the IceHogs have been in each game as the clock winds down, having lost their three other games by one goal each. Rockford is in fifth-place in the Central Division with one point after four games, just ahead of the Cleveland Monsters, who are 0-2-0 to begin the year.

Speaking of their 5-2 loss to the Wolves, the IceHogs have released goaltender Scott Darling from his Professional Tryout Agreement. Darling made one appearance for the IceHogs, the aforementioned 5-2 loss to the Wolves. He made 22 saves in his first and only appearance with the IceHogs since February 2015.

Matt Tomkins has started every other game for the IceHogs this season. He is 0-2-1 in those starts with a .899 save percentage and a 3.65 GAA. Tomkins missed a portion of IceHogs training camp after being deemed unfit to participate at the beginning of the on-ice sessions. It appears that the absence was in fact COVID-related.

Tomkins has been pegged as the number one goalie in the IceHogs rotation, even before he joined the team on the ice during training camp. Head coach Derek King had reiterated often how Tomkins had earned his starting job with the time he had put in over the past three seasons in the ECHL and AHL. His professional path in North America is not all that different than what Kevin Lankinen experienced prior to his promotion to the NHL.

With the release of Darling, the Rockford IceHogs are down to three goalies on the active roster with Tomkins, Cale Morris, and Tom Aubrun. Morris and Aubrun are under AHL contracts, while Tomkins is on a two-way deal with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Speaking of AHL contracts, the IceHogs signed 19-year-old defenseman Michael Krutil to an AHL deal through the end of this season. Krutil has two shots on goal in three games played so far this season for the IceHogs. After impressing at the World Junior Championships with the Czech Republic, Krutil played with the Blackhawks at Chicago’s training camp prior to being sent to the IceHogs. At 6’3″ and 200 pounds, Krutil has a lot of size to work with at a young age to throw around and help him survive in a physical league like the AHL.

The IceHogs will be getting another big body in the lineup with the addition of forward MacKenzie Entwistle. After spending nearly a month on the Blackhawks Taxi Squad, Entwistle was sent to Rockford by the Blackhawks to get him into some game action.

Entwistle is a strong, two-way player who the Blackhawks would like to see develop into a serviceable top-nine option. In his rookie season last year, he skated in 56 games for Rockford and tallied 26 points, finishing second in rookie scoring behind Brandon Hagel.

Anton Lindholm was also sent to the IceHogs from the Taxi Squad, but will be out of action for the next 4-6 weeks due to a broken thumb. Lindholm did not get into any games with the Blackhawks after starting the season with Chicago on the Taxi Squad. He has 164 AHL games to his name with 24 career points.

The IceHogs are back in action on Thursday night, taking on the Grand Rapids Griffins. It’s the first meeting between the IceHogs and Griffins this season and is the first game of a three-game homestand for Rockford. The IceHogs will also host the Cleveland Monsters twice as part of the three-game homestand, those games coming on Monday and Tuesday night of next week. Puck drop for all three games is at 6:00 p.m. CT at the BMO Harris Bank Center.

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Author: Mario Tirabassi

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.