POSTED ON Tuesday, 12.30.2014 / 9:20 AM CT
By Emerald Gao - chicagoblackhawks.com / Through The Glass photo blog

Special occasions require special threads, and NHL goalies generally rise to the occasion. Chicago netminders Corey Crawford and Antti Raanta will sport custom masks for the 2015 Winter Classic on Thursday, Jan. 1, and the Blackhawks Blog got a sneak peek after Monday's game against Nashville.

Corey Crawford went for a sleek, clean look for his custom mask, matching his design to the team's white jerseys. (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/Chicago Blackhawks)


Antti Raanta's custom mask for the 2015 Winter Classic features the Chicago skyline, wintry details and a monochrome logo. (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/Chicago Blackhawks)
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POSTED ON Monday, 12.29.2014 / 1:32 PM CT
By Emerald Gao - chicagoblackhawks.com / The Blackhawks Blog
Team USA, featuring four Blackhawks prospects, has gotten off to a good start at the 2015 World Juniors tournament, winning its first two group stage games. (Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

The annual IIHF U20 World Championship tournament is the hockey world’s favorite holiday tradition, offering fans the chance to watch the most exciting junior-age players compete head to head as well as a glimpse of the sport’s future stars. Last year, Blackhawks fans were treated to an incredible performance by 2012 first-round pick Teuvo Teravainen, who captained Finland to its first gold medal since 1998 and led all players with 15 points (2G, 13A) in seven games.

This year, Chicago is again well-represented at World Juniors, with defenseman Robin Norell suiting up for Sweden a second time and four forwards—plus Head Coach Mark Osiecki, normally the associate coach in Rockford—hoping to help Team USA reach the pinnacle. Through the first two games of the tournament, here’s how each prospect has fared.


D Robin Norell, Sweden

Norell was reunited with last year’s defensive partner, Robert Hagg (Philadelphia’s first-round selection in 2013), to form a veteran duo for Sweden in their tournament opener, a 5-2 win over the Czech Republic. He then moved to a pairing with Gustav Forsling (VAN, 2014) in Saturday’s 5-1 win over Denmark. The shutdown blueliner has been held without a point in two games, in addition to collecting one shot on goal and one minor penalty.

Sweden plays Russia in a battle of Group B heavyweights this afternoon at 4 p.m. CT. NHL Network will offer live coverage at the conclusion of the USA-Slovakia match.

C Nick Schmaltz, USA

Schmaltz has been a noticeable presence on Team USA’s second line alongside 2015 draft-eligible Auston Matthews. Chicago’s 2014 first-round selection ranked third on the team with four shots on goal in a 2-1 shootout win over Finland on Friday, then assisted on Matthews’ game-winner in a 6-0 win against Germany on Sunday.

C Tyler Motte, USA

Motte has played primarily a checking role on a line with Hudson Fasching (LAK, 2013) and University of Michigan teammate Dylan Larkin (DET, 2014), and that line broke out in a big way on Sunday, combining for six points and 15 shots on goal against Germany. Motte collected an assist and now has six shots on goal through two games; he is expected to start on USA’s top line this afternoon against Slovakia, playing with captain Jack Eichel and Alex Tuch.

C Anthony Louis, USA

Louis has seen plenty of action in Team USA’s first two games, rotating on a line with fellow Blackhawks prospect John Hayden, Northbrook native J.T. Compher (BUF, 2013) and Miles Wood (NJD, 2013), and seeing occasional power play time. Louis has no points and four shots on goal through two games.

C John Hayden, USA

A Team USA alternate captain, Hayden has been held without a point, with four shots on goal in two games so far.

The Americans will take on Slovakia today at 3 p.m. CT, as they try to overtake with Group A leaders Canada. Viewers can find the game on NHL Network or stream it live on NHL.com. Preview below:

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POSTED ON Monday, 12.15.2014 / 1:01 PM CT
By Emerald Gao - chicagoblackhawks.com / The Blackhawks Blog
(Photo courtesy Rockford IceHogs)

1st Star: C Joakim Nordstrom, Rockford IceHogs (AHL)
The Line
: 3GP, 3G, 2A

The return of the captain from Chicago was a welcome sight for the IceHogs, who went 2-1-0-0 in three games this week. Nordstrom picked up an assist in a 4-2 loss at Lake Erie on Friday, then netted his first professional hat trick on Saturday, adding a helper for a career-high four points as Rockford posted a 5-2 win over the Monsters. The IceHogs continue to lead AHL teams with four hat tricks this season (Nordstrom, McNeill, Ross twice), and Nordstrom ranks third on the team with eight goals and eighth with 13 points in 17 games.

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POSTED ON Monday, 12.8.2014 / 1:32 PM CT
By Emerald Gao - chicagoblackhawks.com / The Blackhawks Blog
(Photo courtesy Rockford IceHogs)

1st Star: LW Garret Ross, Rockford IceHogs (AHL)
The Line: 3GP, 4G

Ross netted his second hat trick of the season in Rockford’s 4-3 overtime loss to Lake Erie on Dec. 7. The 2012 fourth-round pick also scored in a 4-0 win at Milwaukee on Thursday; with his four tallies last week, he now leads Rockford with 10 goals and ranks second with 17 points in 25 games. Ross is the only player in the AHL with more than one hat trick this season, and Rockford leads the league with three hat tricks so far in 2014-15 (Mark McNeill has the other one).

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POSTED ON Monday, 11.24.2014 / 11:58 AM CT
By Emerald Gao - chicagoblackhawks.com / The Blackhawks Blog

Each Monday, the Blackhawks Blog will highlight prospects who stood out for their minor-league, junior, college, or European teams in the previous week’s action. All prospect stats will be updated weekly throughout the 2014-15 season.

(Photo courtesy Rockford IceHogs)

1st Star: RW Ryan Hartman, Rockford IceHogs (AHL)
The Line: 3GP, 2G, 1A

Hartman played an integral role in helping Rockford win three games in three nights over the weekend. The 2013 first-round pick tallied both the game-tying and game-winning goal in a 4-3 overtime win over the reigning AHL champion Iowa Wild on Friday; he also led the team with seven shots on goal in the contest. Two nights later, Hartman picked up his fourth assist of the season in a 3-0 win at Chicago. He ranks eighth among roster players with eight points in 19 games in his first AHL season.

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POSTED ON Monday, 11.17.2014 / 3:25 PM CT
By Emerald Gao - chicagoblackhawks.com / The Blackhawks Blog

Each Monday, the Blackhawks Blog will highlight prospects who stood out for their minor-league, junior, college, or European teams in the previous week’s action. All prospect stats will be updated weekly throughout the 2014-15 season.

(Photo courtesy Rockford IceHogs)

1st Star: C Teuvo Teravainen, Rockford IceHogs (AHL)
The Line: 3GP, 1G, 2A

Teravainen sparked Rockford’s lone win this week, a 3-2 result over Texas on Sunday, with a pair of helpers in the game; the 2012 first-round pick now shares first on the team with eight assists this season. Teravainen also scored the lone goal in Rockford’s 2-1 loss at Milwaukee on Saturday for his second tally of the season.

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POSTED ON Monday, 11.10.2014 / 2:08 PM CT
By Emerald Gao - chicagoblackhawks.com / The Blackhawks Blog
(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.

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POSTED ON Monday, 11.3.2014 / 3:25 PM CT
By Emerald Gao - chicagoblackhawks.com / The Blackhawks Blog

Each Monday, the Blackhawks Blog will highlight prospects who stood out for their minor-league, junior, college, or European teams in the previous week’s action. All prospect stats will be updated weekly throughout the 2014-15 season.

(Photo courtesy Rockford IceHogs)

1st Star: C Joakim Nordstrom, Rockford IceHogs (AHL)
The Line: 3GP, 2G, 1A

Rockford’s newly minted captain – the eighth in franchise history, as well as the youngest at age 22 – led the IceHogs to three victories in three games last week, extending the team’s win streak to five games and vaulting to the top of the AHL’s Midwest Division. Nordstrom netted the game-winning goal in a narrow 2-1 result over the Grand Rapids Griffins on Wednesday, scored a power-play goal in a 6-3 win over San Antonio on Friday, then assisted on the opening goal of a 5-1 win over the Rampage on Saturday. Nordstrom shares sixth on the team with five points (3G, 2A) in 10 games this season.

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POSTED ON Monday, 10.27.2014 / 1:31 PM CT
By Emerald Gao - chicagoblackhawks.com / The Blackhawks Blog

Each Monday, the Blackhawks Blog will highlight prospects who stood out for their minor-league, junior, college, or European teams in the previous week’s action. All prospect stats will be updated weekly throughout the 2014-15 season.

(Photo courtesy Rockford IceHogs)

1st Star: RW Mark McNeill, Rockford (AHL)
The Line: 3GP, 2G, 2A

McNeill contributed points in each of Rockford’s three games last week, helping the IceHogs rise a few places in the division and conference standings. The 2011 first-round pick netted his first goal of the season, a shorthanded tally, in a 3-2 loss at Rochester on Oct. 22, collected a pair of helpers on Oct. 25 in a 4-3 victory over the rival Chicago Wolves (including one on the game-winner), then scored an empty-net goal to seal a 5-2 victory over Lake Erie on Oct. 26. McNeill shares the team lead with five points (2G, 3A) in seven games.

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POSTED ON Monday, 10.20.2014 / 12:08 PM CT
By Emerald Gao - chicagoblackhawks.com / The Blackhawks Blog

Each Monday, the Blackhawks Blog will highlight prospects who stood out for their minor-league, junior, college, or European teams in the previous week’s action. All prospect stats will be updated weekly throughout the 2014-15 season.

(Photo courtesy Rockford IceHogs)

1st Star: C Peter Regin, Rockford (AHL)
The Line: 3GP, 2G, 2A

Regin keyed the Rockford IceHogs offensively as they went 2-0-0-1 on the road last week, compiling two goals and two assists. He recorded three points (1G, 2A) on Thursday in a 3-1 victory over Adirondack, including a helper on the game-winning goal and an empty-net tally; on Saturday, Regin netted the overtime game-winner in a 2-1 win at Hamilton. His four points currently lead Rockford.

(Photo courtesy Rockford IceHogs)

2nd Star: G Scott Darling, Rockford (AHL)
The Line: 2-0-0, 45 saves on 48 shots

Darling saw his first action of the AHL season last week, winning both of his starts while compiling a 1.43 goals-against average and .948 save percentage. On Oct. 16, the 2014 free-agent signing stopped 21 of 23 shots at Adirondack, and two days later he saved 34 of 35 attempts in Rockford’s win over Hamilton.

(Photo courtesy MJB Images)

3rd Star: LW Fredrik Olofsson, Chicago (USHL)
The Line: 2GP, 5G, 1A

Olofsson, the Blackhawks’ 2014 fourth-round selection, had a breakout weekend for the Chicago Steel, collecting six points in two games. He notched a natural hat trick in a 4-3 win on Friday vs. Bloomington, including the game-winner, then tacked on a pair of goals and an assist the next night at Muskegon in a 4-3 win. Olofsson leads Chicago with seven goals and ranks second with nine points in seven games this season.

Honorable mentions: D Michael Paliotta, University of Vermont (H-EAST); G Ivan Nalimov, Admiral Vladivostok (KHL)

Paliotta continued to pace the Catamounts in a pair of wins over the weekend, notching an assist on Friday in a 2-1 win over Clarkson and notching two points (1G, 1A) in Saturday’s follow-up, a 3-0 win at Clarkson. The Vermont captain has points in all three outings so far this season and leads the team with seven points (2G, 5A).

Goaltender Ivan Nalimov, a sixth-round selection in 2014, made 26 saves in a 1-0 shootout loss at HC Sochi on Sunday to record his first career KHL shutout. Nalimov also stopped 27 saves on 28 shots in a relief appearance last Monday; he has a .981 save percentage over his last two appearances.

Around the system:

  • Defenseman Carl Dahlstrom played two games for Linkoping last week in the Swedish Hockey League and netted his first goal in a 4-2 loss to Djurgardens on Saturday... Anders Nilsson made 34 saves on 35 shots in his only start for AZ Bars Kazan last week, a 2-1 shootout loss to Metallurg on Friday. The 24-year-old netminders improved his GAA to 1.66 and his SV% to .940 in 11 games this season.

  • Miami forward Anthony Louis collected a pair of helpers in a 5-1 win over Ohio State on Friday and combined for six shots on goal over the weekend; the sophomore now has four assists in as many games... Freshman forward Nick Schmaltz posted three helpers for the University of North Dakota as they won a pair of weekend games at Colorado College by a combined score of 10-3. The 2014 first-round pick shares third on North Dakota with four points (1G, 3A) in four games.

  • Rockford received offensive contributions from a number of players as the team won their first two games of the season. Defenseman Klas Dahlbeck logged a goal and an assist in three games, including the game-winner in Thursday’s 4-2 victory at Adirondack... Fellow defensemen Viktor Svedberg and T.J. Brennan also scored in the game, both players tallying their first of the season... Joakim Nordstrom opened his scoring account on Saturday, notching Rockford’s only goal in regulation in a 2-1 OT win at Hamilton.

  • Goaltender Michael Leighton stopped all 28 shots he faced on Sunday at Toronto, but couldn’t shut the Marlies down in the shootout as the IceHogs dropped a 1-0 decision. The 33-year-old improved his numbers with the result and now has a 1.43 GAA and .941 SV% in two outings.

  • The Indy Fuel, Chicago’s new ECHL affiliate, began their inaugural campaign with an 0-1-0-1 record in two games last week. Defenseman Mathieu Brisebois netted the franchise’s first-ever goal and added an assist in a 5-4 shootout loss to Fort Wayne on Friday... Former Blackhawks draft choice Justin Holl compiled a pair of assists for Indy on Saturday in a 4-3 loss at Fort Wayne.

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