Motte working his way back to Chicago Blackhawks

Ten games into Tyler Motte's career with the Chicago Blackhawks, few would have been surprised if he thought to himself, "Hey, this NHL thing's not so tough."

That's because Motte, who was making the leap from college to the top league in the world with almost no time in the minors, scored 3 goals in his first 10 games and looked completely at ease on the ice.

Then, as (bad) luck would have it, the 5-foot-9, 190-pound winger was injured during Game 13 … and the once-confident Motte never regained his pre-injury form.

After missing about two weeks, Motte managed just 1 goal in his next 20 games, and he was demoted to Rockford on Jan. 3.

Before the IceHogs dropped a 3-2 overtime decision to the Chicago Wolves on Saturday at the Allstate Arena, Motte was quick to point out that his lack of production had nothing to do with any lingering effects of the injury.

"Any injury will stop a player for a second, especially two weeks off - and the majority of that was off the ice completely," Motte said. "When I came back into the lineup I was totally healthy. No issues at all. … I felt great.

"My role might have changed over the course of the time off. Other guys had opportunities and (they) made the most of those opportunities."

True enough. Motte was on the top line with Jonathan Toews early in the season and getting 11-14 minutes a game. After the injury, Motte was on the third and fourth lines and saw his playing time dip to 7-10 minutes in the five games before his assignment to the IceHogs.

"I tried to work my way back up, but again with other guys playing well and the team continuing to win, it was hard for me to climb the lineup chart," he said.

Motte lit it up early on with Rockford, scoring 4 goals in his first seven games, but he has hit a rut lately and hasn't scored in eight straight.

"He's just a little snakebit right now," said IceHogs coach Ted Dent.

That certainly seems to be the case as Motte has averaged a solid 4.5 shots on goal in the last six contests while playing about 16-18 minutes.

"I'm putting the puck to the net from just about every angle, so the number of shots might be up, but the quality scoring chances might be not quite as similar as the shot number," Motte said. "The NHL stat is one in every 10 shots goes in for a player. I've gone 30 without one, so hopefully a couple go in soon."

Motte admitted he was "a little surprised" when the Hawks sent him down, but he also trusts that coaches and management know what they're doing. As fans saw with Nick Schmaltz, a young player can benefit greatly from a stint in the AHL, and they often return with a newfound confidence.

"Good to see anyone have success, especially a good friend like Nick," Motte said. "I think it just goes to show that the staff knows what they're doing. They know what their mindset is, and if they can get us to have the same mindset it's good to have.

"Good to be able to send guys down, build confidence, play more minutes and when they get the call back up, they make the most of it."

• Rockford (14-23-10) has the fewest points in the AHL and is 0-3-4 in its last seven games. Sam Carrick and Jeremy Langlois scored the IceHogs' goals in a 3-2 OT loss to the Wolves on Saturday. Carrick has 3 goals in the last six games, while Langlois has 3 in the last four. Spencer Abbott (11G, 16A) is the team's leading scorer.

The IceHogs' next game is Tuesday at home against the Wolves at 7 p.m.

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