Blackhawks prospect Ejdsell shines as IceHogs take 3-0 series lead
ROCKFORD - When the Chicago Blackhawks traded Ryan Hartman to Nashville at the NHL trade deadline, most fans focused on the fact that the Nashville Predators were giving the Hawks their first-round pick in the upcoming draft.
In the short term, however, it's looking like we should pay attention to the actual player the Hawks acquired from the Predators: Victor Ejdsell.
Ejdsell, a 6-foot-5, 214-pound forward, has been on fire for Rockford in the Calder Cup playoffs, and he scored the go-ahead goal Wednesday night for the IceHogs in their 4-1 victory over Manitoba at the BMO Harris Bank Center.
The IceHogs lead the best-of-seven series 3-0 with Game 4 set for Friday in Rockford.
Ejdsell, who played six games late in the season for the Hawks, gave the IceHogs a 2-1 lead 7:33 into the second period when he snapped off a shot from about 50 feet out that beat Manitoba goalie Eric Comrie.
"I have good confidence right now with my shot, so I'm trying to take advantage of that," said Ejdsell, who is 4-for-6 shooting in the playoffs.
Edjsell played most of this season in Sweden, scoring 20 goals in 50 games for HV71 Jonkoping. He has a huge shot and has shown plenty of skill with the puck, but IceHogs coach Jeremy Colliton said "he can have even more of an impact."
"It's recognizing how important every 50-50 situation is that's going to shape the next 20 seconds of his shift," Colliton said. "If he wins it, then he gets to play in the offensive zone. And if he doesn't, then he's going to have to defend and that's not as much fun."
Edjsell is still getting used to the smaller North American ice surface where there's less time to make plays. He admits there's still a ton to learn.
"I have to get more intense and get into the battles," Ejdsell said. "I have to get more involved and notice what's going on out there and learn from it.
"It's different from European hockey and that's what I've been playing my whole life. Every game we play here is a bonus for me."
Manitoba scored the game's first goal Wednesday, meaning Rockford has fallen behind 1-0 in five straight games.
The IceHogs, though, tied things up when Tyler Sikura scored on the power play at 6:26 of the second period. He scored into a wide-open net after Comrie allowed a juicy rebound of an Adam Clendening blast.
"I was fortunate to be in the right area; it came right to me and I tapped it home," Sikura said.
William Pelletier made it 3-1 with 6:08 left in the game by tapping home a perfect pass from behind the net by Anthony Louis. Matthew Highmore made it 4-1 by scoring into an empty net with 1:14 remaining.
Collin Delia made 37 saves and has stopped 204 of 214 shots in the postseason.
Now the IceHogs will attempt to sweep a second straight team and advance to the conference final.
"We're in a good spot, but each game is new," Colliton said. "You've got to start over. … We may not win the next one even (if) we're better (that night).
"But have the right approach, compete really hard and make it difficult for them night after night. That'll be our approach for Friday."