The Rockford IceHogs’ annual ‘School Day’ game was the scene of more than just a mid-morning puck drop in front of 4,000-plus screaming kids. It marked the first game for the IceHogs under interim head coach Derek King. After Jeremy Colliton was named the successor to Joel Quenneville with the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday, King took the reigns in Rockford, but the Iowa Wild came away winners in his first game at the helm.
New King Of The Castle
If you have been living under a rock the last 30 hours, the Chicago Blackhawks made the decision to fire head coach Joel Quenneville after 11 years behind the bench. Quenneville helped lead the Blackhawks to three Stanley Cups in his tenure and recorded the second-most wins as a coach in Blackhawks franchise history. With the removal of Quenneville, Chicago announced that Rockford IceHogs head coach Jeremy Colliton would take his place.
Colliton, at 33-years old, becomes the youngest current coach in the NHL, making his NHL coaching debut on Thursday night against the Carolina Hurricanes. He amassed a 46-31-11 record at the AHL level with Rockford in his time behind the bench. The move left the IceHogs without a head coach, and that is where Derek King comes into play.
King, an assistant coach with the IceHogs for the last two seasons, made his head coaching debut on Wednesday against the Iowa Wild. After playing 14 seasons (830 games) in the NHL, King began his coaching career in the 2009-2010 season with the Toronto Marlies in the AHL. King spent six seasons with the Marlies as an assistant/associate coach before continuing his career as an assistant coach with the Owen Sound Attack in the Ontario Hockey League for the 2015-16 season before joining the IceHogs.
King, along with assistant coach Sheldon Brookbank, take control of the IceHogs and have to manage the high-expectations on the team after the work that the two helped build with Colliton over the last season and change.
The expectations continued on Wednesday morning against the Iowa Wild in King’s head coaching debut.
Rockford IceHogs Fall To Iowa Wild
A rare morning puck drop signaled the third game in-a-row between the Iowa Wild and the Rockford iceHogs in less than a week’s time. Having taken three of four points against the Wild in the previous two meetings and on a four-game points streak, the IceHogs were looking to keep their hot-stretch of play going.
They would not.
Collin Delia would get the start in net for the IceHogs opposite Kaapo Kahkonen for the Wild. The two dueled in the Nov. 3 game between the teams in which the Wild were able to come away winners, 2-1, in the shootout. Wednesday’s game would be another contest that would be just as tight between the two goaltenders, but the Wild were able to stifle the Rockford offense.
The Wild got on the board first in the first period thanks to a powerplay goal from Sam Anas, his first goal of the year. In the second period, the Iowa added to their lead as Matt Read banged in a goal past Delia, Read’s first goal of the season. Iowa killed off five powerplay chances against the, with the IceHogs threatening on only one chance in the third period. Rockford pulled Delia late and Cal O’Reilly netted an empty-net goal to seal the game for Iowa. Rockford shutout for the first time this season with Kahkonen making 28 saves on all 28 shots faced. Delia with a 25-save performance, facing 27 shots on net, sees his record fall to 4-2-2 this season.
The Rockford IceHogs are off until the weekend when they will have back-to-back road games against AHL Central Division foes.
On Friday, the IceHogs travel to take on the Milwaukee Admirals in Milwaukee. The IceHogs and Admirals battled a week ago in Milwaukee, a 3-2 overtime win for Rockford. Puck drop on Friday is scheduled for 7:00pm CT at the Panther Arena.
On Saturday, the IceHogs head to Rosemont to take on the Chicago Wolves. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00pm CT at the Allstate Arena. Saturday marks the first Illinois Lottery Cup Rivalry game between Rockford and Chicago this season.