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3 Stars of the Week: McNeill hat trick powers IceHogs

by Emerald Gao / Chicago Blackhawks
(Photo courtesy Rockford IceHogs)

1st Star: RW Mark McNeill, Rockford IceHogs (AHL)
The Line:
3GP, 6G, first career hat trick

McNeill extended his goal streak to four games and point streak to five contests after collecting six tallies in three games for Rockford last week, helping the IceHogs extend their win streak to a franchise-best eight games. The 2011 first-round pick’s haul included his first professional hat trick in a 3-1 win over Grand Rapids on Saturday. He also netted the game-winning tally in Rockford's 5-3 win at Iowa on Thursday, in addition to a pair of goals that sparked Rockford’s 5-4 come-from-behind overtime victory against Lake Erie on Tuesday. McNeill was named CCM/AHL Player of the Week for his offensive efforts and now shares the AHL lead with nine goals and three game-winners in 13 games this season.

(Chase Agnello-Dean/Chicago Blackhawks)

2nd Star: C Luke Johnson, University of North Dakota (NCHC)
The Line:
2GP, 1G, 2A

Johnson had points in both games over the weekend, as North Dakota swept Wisconsin. After collecting an assist in Friday's 4-3 win, the 2013 fifth-round pick potted a goal and an assist in a 5-1 win the next night, in addition to tallying a game-high seven shots on goal. Johnson now paces the team with 28 SOG on the season and ranks seventh on the team with six points (3G, 3A) through nine contests.

(Brandon Anderson/Muskegon Lumberjacks)

3rd Star: LW Matheson Iacopelli, Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)
The Line:
2GP, 2G, 1A

Iacopelli compiled three points (2G, 1A) in two games for Muskegon last week; both of his goals came in a 5-4 overtime loss at Tri-City on Friday, and he added an assist on the opening goal in a 3-2 shootout win over the Americans on Saturday. The 2014 third-round pick leads the team with 12 points, and he paces the USHL with 10 goals and 75 shots on goal.

Honorable mentions: C Joakim Nordstrom, Rockford (AHL); G Ivan Nalimov, Admiral Vladivostok (KHL)

Nordstrom also played a key part in Rockford’s three wins last week, picking up an assist on the tying goal in the third period of Tuesday’s 5-4 overtime win against Lake Erie. The Rockford captain also scored two power-play goals in Thursday’s 5-3 win in Iowa; he now ranks second on the team with five goals and shares third with eight points.

Nalimov followed up a very successful October – in which he was named KHL’s Rookie of the Month – with two strong starts for Admiral Vladivostok, going 2-0-0 while making a combined 44 saves on 49 shots. The 2014 sixth-round draft pick has a 2.73 goals-against average and .902 save percentage through 14 appearances this season.

Around the system:

  • Jack Ramsey notched a three-point game for Penticton on Friday in a 4-3 overtime win at Victoria, scoring the opening goal and picking up two helpers, including one on the game-winner. The Vees alternate captain shares seventh on the team with 14 points (5G, 9A) in 21 games this season.

  • Boston College sophomore Chris Calnan scored his third goal of the season in a 5-3 loss to Boston University on Friday. The 2012 third-round pick shares second on the team in goals and has one assist through seven games... Dylan Sikura, a 2014 sixth-round pick, tallied his first collegiate goal for Northwestern in a 3-3 tie at UMass-Lowell on Friday... University of Vermont captain Michael Paliotta led the Catamounts to a 4-3 overtime victory at Maine on Friday, picking up a pair of helpers in the contests, including one on the game-winner. The senior defenseman continues to lead the team with nine points (2G, 7A) in eight games this year.

  • Before he was recalled to the Blackhawks, center Peter Regin helped extend Rockford’s win streak, scoring both the tying goal and the overtime game-winner in a 5-4 win over Lake Erie last Tuesday... Garret Ross also had a strong outing against Lake Erie, posting a professional career-high three assists in the contest.

  • Defenseman T.J. Brennan extended his point streak to five games after posting assists in each of Rockford’s three games last week (5A), including three helpers in Tuesday’s win over the Monsters. Brennan leads team blueliners with eight points (2G, 6A) in 13 games this season... Kyle Cumiskey picked up three assists in two games last week, including a pair in the IceHogs’ 5-3 win over Iowa.

  • Netminder Scott Darling picked up his fourth and fifth wins of the season last week to stay unbeaten so far in 2014-15. He made 12 saves in relief on Tuesday, then stopped 30 of 33 shots two nights later in Iowa. Darling ranks fourth in the AHL with a .948 SV% and fifth with a 1.52 GAA through five appearances... Michael Leighton allowed just one goal on 25 shots in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Grand Rapids, improving his record to 5-2-1 in nine games.
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