The Rockford IceHogs finish a four-game road trip on Tuesday night when they take on the Iowa Wild in Iowa, the fourth of a trip that saw Rockford go 2-1-0 against the San Antonio Rampage and Texas Stars. With a win on Tuesday night, or a regulation loss by the Milwaukee Admirals against the Chicago Wolves on Tuesday, the IceHogs will clinch a spot in the Calder Cup Playoffs after missing out last season.
IceHogs Can Clinch Calder Cup Playoff Spot In Iowa
This season has been a breath of fresh air for the IceHogs after last season’s disappointment that saw the eventual departure of head coach Ted Dent and give way to the tenure of Jeremy Colliton in his first year coaching in North America. Colliton stressed early in the season that the mentality of his team would be that they would be hard to play against, not just physically, but that they would out-work their opponents. With the mixture of additions and departures this season, Rockford’s roster has shaped nearly perfectly in to the vision and style of play that Colliton wanted to instill. Now they find themselves with a Calder Cup Playoff clinching magic number down to one.
On Tuesday, the IceHogs take on the Iowa Wild, a team that has been in a terrible slump at the worst time of the season. Not long ago, the Wild were right in the middle of Calder Cup Playoff contention in the Central Division. But after a 20-game stretch since the end of February that saw them go 5-9-6, they are now officially out of the race and trying to play the role of spoiler. This season, Rockford holds a 6-4-1 record over Iowa and has won their last two meetings in March.
Rockford enters Tuesday night’s game off of a regulation loss to the Texas Stars that saw the IceHogs hold a 3-1 lead in the third period but fall 4-3 in a game that could have clinched them a spot in the Calder Cup Playoffs on Saturday night. But not all of their momentum was lost in that game against the Stars as Rockford, since the beginning of March, has an 11-3-2 record and have scored three or more goals in eight of their last ten games. Needless to say, the IceHogs have been happy with their play as of late.
Send In The Calvary
Heading into Tuesday night’s game against the Wild, the IceHogs welcomed back six players from the Chicago Blackhawks as the NHL season came to a close. On Sunday afternoon, the Blackhawks sent down six players to Rockford ahead of the final three regular season games in the AHL season. Victor Ejdsell, Andreas Martinsen, John Hayden, David Kampf, J.F.Berube, and Jeff Glass were all recalled to Rockford and are expected in the lineup for Tuesday night’s contest.
Glass and Berube present one of the more interesting lineup decisions that head coach Jeremy Colliton will have to make. Already having Matt Tomkins and Collin Delia, Rockford adds two more goaltenders that are more than capable of starting in the AHL. While Delia and Glass have seen the most action with Rockford this season, Berube’s numbers while in net have been the most impressive in his 15 appearances this season. Berube posts a 2.37 GAA and a .920 save-percentage, both better than Delia (2.62 GAA, .905 save%) and Glass (2.73 GAA, .907 save%) but having fewer games in net. It will be interesting to see how the goalies end up rotating over the last three regular season games for Rockford.
With the re-additions of Kampf, Martinsen, Hayden, and Ejdsell, the IceHogs get an extra order of beef back in their lineup. While Hayden and Ejdsell haven’t spent the most time with the club, expect them to make their way into the lineup moving forward. The same should go for Kampf, even though he has not played with the IceHogs since being recalled to the Blackhawks way back in late December.
With the influx of players returning, the lineup moving forward is going to have a good amount of changes to it. Tough decisions lie ahead for Colliton, who said on Monday that having the kind of depth that Rockford’s lineup now possesses is a good thing,
Monday, April 9th Media Day Audio
On Monday, the IceHogs held a practice in Rockford before loading the bus and heading West to Iowa. Prior to that, head coach Jeremy Colliton, John Hayden, Tyler Sikura, and Andreas Martinsen spoke to the media about the upcoming game against the Wild, the mentality and make-up of the team heading into a potential Calder Cup Playoff run, and addressing the tragedy in Humboldt, Saskatchewan and how they are helping the families affected.
The IceHogs return to action on Tuesday night with a spot in the Calder Cup Playoffs on the line as they travel to Iowa to take on the Iowa Wild. Puck drop for Tuesday night’s game is scheduled for 7pm Central Time in Des Moines. After Tuesday, the IceHogs have just two games remaining on the regular season schedule, both against the Chicago Wolves. In what could be an appetizer to a potential Calder Cup Playoffs mathcup, the Wolves and IceHogs will play back-to-back, home and home games on Friday and Saturday night. Friday night in Rockford is set for a 7pm Central Time puck drop and the same is set for Saturday night’s season finale in Rosemont.