From NHL to Rockford, Cole Guttman continues to shine wherever he is

The Rockford IceHogs swept a homestand over the weekend, outscoring Iowa and Grand Rapids by a combined 9-2 score to soar to over .500 for the first time this season.

Rockford (3-2-0-0) is averaging almost five goals per game to start the AHL season. While the Chicago Blackhawks crawl off to a 3-5-0 start, the Hogs have started the season with good, clean hockey on both ends.

One of the reasons for their success is an in-form Cole Guttman. Last year's Hogs' Rookie of the Year started the season with a goal in the Hawks' opener, and has three assists in three games since returning to Rockford.

It was a short stay in Chicago for Guttman, but it won't be his last.

"It was really fun to get that first one with the Hawks out in Pittsburgh, and it was, I thought, just a great team win and a great way to start," said Guttman. "Now I just need to build on everything I can here in Rockford... I'll work my hardest no matter where I'm at."

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'Turn the page on last year'

Now 5-foot-10 and 181 pounds, the 24-year-old out of Northridge, California, was one of the go-to scorers for the Hogs last season, finishing fifth with 16 goals while adding 14 assists in a shortened campaign. And, just as importantly, when he got his call up to the Hawks, he made it count, posting six points with four goals in 14 NHL games.

"You have to turn the page on last year," Guttman said, "and you have to prove yourself this year."

Last season, he battled through a shoulder injury that he incurred in November, and then reinjured a month later before eventually being shut down.

He underwent surgery in the offseason, but has not been limited by the shoulder since.

Appeared to be a lock to be a Hawk

He looked solid during Hawks training camp, and he centered the third line with Tyler Johnson and Taylor Raddysh by NHL opening night. On Oct. 10, he slapped in a goal that tied the game at 2-2 and kickstarted the Hawks' 4-2 come-from-behind win over Pittsburgh.

But he wound up right back in Rockford two days later. Since, he has started to build a rapport with his new teammates.

Brett Seney got his fourth goal of the season on Saturday when Guttman won the faceoff from the left circle and sent the puck right back to an open Seney. Later in the third, Guttman battled hard to free the puck at mid-ice and fed Joey Anderson for an empty-net goal during the 3-0 victory.

How long will he be here?

The Hogs are in Manitoba, Canada, for a two-game series against the Moose starting at 2 p.m. Saturday, and continuing at 2 p.m. Sunday. They return home for a 10:30 a.m. game Nov. 8 against the Texas Stars.

Guttman will continue to try and help the Hogs win, while sharpening his game for the next level at the same time. He could get that next call-up any day, or he could spend a significant amount of time in Rockford, too. This is one of those seasons that could be hard to predict at any level.

"Obviously that's the goal and that's what everyone wants, to be up there in the NHL," Guttman said. "Wherever you're at, though, you have to put everything you have into it. I'm here, and I want to win. And I want the IceHogs to win, and I want to be on a winning team. So I'll do everything in my power to get that."

Jay Taft is a Rockford Register Star sports reporter. Email him at and follow him on Twitter at @JayTaft. Sign up for the Rockford High School newsletter at Jay has covered a wide variety of sports, from the Chicago Bears to youth sports, since the turn of the century at the Register Star, and for over 30 years all together.

This article originally appeared on Rockford Register Star: Cole Guttman: Blackhawks prospect back in Rockford, already shining