Finding positives with the Rockford IceHogs these days is a challenge. When it comes to their on- ice performance, it has been pretty grim. After a 9–4 pounding on Wednesday night at the hands of Grand Rapids Griffins, when it comes to standings and performance, Hogs fans can deem this a lost season. The team is now 1–7–1 and cemented in the basement of the AHL’s Central Division. Sure, prospects will develop and that is important, but with so few games in the 2021 season, it is hard to imagine the Hogs catching a sudden spark to enter the Calder Cup Playoffs hunt.
On the good news front, on Wednesday, the Rockford Star Register reported the IceHogs may soon be purchased by their NHL affiliate in Chicago. This is a good thing. If this materializes, it will assist in the club’s long-term solvency, and certainly will keep the IceHogs in Rockford for a number of years. COVID-19 has been difficult for a number of businesses, and as an AHL franchise, this year has not been easy on the IceHogs. Should this pan out and the Hawks ultimately purchase the club, everybody wins.
As far as the on-ice product, Brandon Pirri is back with the Hogs full-time, and the seasoned AHL vet chipped in two goals on Wednesday night. While it is a bit of a paradox to highlight defensemen when the team has been pummeled for 15 goals against in their last two outings, Nicolas Beaudin has three points in his two games with the club and Wyatt Kalynuk continues to be on the scoresheet with six points in his six games. In time, both of these young men could have bright futures with the Hawks.
The main concern right now for the Hogs—and the Hawks for that matter—is what to make of Collin Delia. The odd man out in the original three-member goalie carousel in Chicago has, for a lack of a better term, gotten lit up in his two starts in Rockford. In fairness to Delia, he was in an unenviable spot of being on the Hawks’ taxi squad, where he was unable to participate in any games for either Chicago or Rockford, and his last two starts have been his first game action in weeks. The Rockford players in front of him have also had their set of defensive lapses. That said, if you look at the stats alone, 23 goals against in four professional appearances in 2021 is hard to ignore. Not too long ago, many thought Delia could be the Hawks’ No. 1 goalie. Now in March, with the ever-competitive Cale Morris also in Rockford awaiting another start, Delia’s future with the organization seems in doubt. Hopefully he can bounce back.