The Rockford IceHogs certainly are feeling festive this holiday season. Through twenty-six games played, they sport a 17-6-1-2 record good for 37 points in the Central Division. Not only does this lead the Division, the IceHogs also sit atop all of the Western Conference in the American Hockey League. Prior to losing to the Grand Rapids Griffins Saturday night, the IceHogs had a season-high five game winning streak.
The team really gained momentum by winning all four games on their recently completed Texas road trip. This included wins over the Texas Stars on December 2nd (6-5) and December 8th (5-3). Sandwiched between theses wins was a pair of victories over the San Antonio Rampage (4-2; 5-2). After then beating Iowa on December 11th, the IceHogs now have a very impressive road record of 11-3-0-1.
Despite the loss on Saturday, the IceHogs and their fans delivered heartily as this was the annual Teddy Bear Toss Game. Fans generously tossed 2,287 stuffed animals to the ice after Jeremy Morin tallied a short-handed goal in the first period. If you are not familiar, this has become a tradition for various minor league teams as a fun way to gather donations to send to local hospitals and charities to brighten the spirits of children. In fact, the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League just set the new record with 28,819 tossed to the ice!
During their rise to the top of the standings, the IceHogs have received contributions across the board, with Jake Dowell and Ryan Hartman pacing the team with 24 points each.
Goaltending has also been great, with Michael Leighton and Mark Visentin each posting a .923 save percentage. The IceHogs continue to support their big league brethren the Chicago Blackhawks, with Bryan Bickell, Dennis Rasmussen and Brandon Mashinter now playing with the Hawks.
Welcome to the @NHL Brandon Mashinter!
He collects his first point in the NHL off his very first goal!
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) December 14, 2015
The IceHogs do not play again until they travel Friday to face off against the Milwaukee Admirals. Until then, the team will continue to spread holiday cheer by holding a public practice and autograph session outdoors in Belvidere, IL on Tuesday December 15th from 6-7 p.m. This is a great opportunity to once again mingle with the team and talk some hockey.
— Rockford IceHogs (@goicehogs) December 13, 2015
In this season of giving, it goes without saying that the Rockford IceHogs, and all of their AHL family get it. Part of their mantra is to promote the game and expose its great appeal to even more fans. To that end they continue to deliver. I know I am a broken record at this point, but if you want a fun, affordable way to watch the future stars of hockey, go to an AHL game. Hearty stick taps to the Rockford IceHogs players, coaches, and staff for leading by example. Your continued giving and support of the community continues to be inspiring. I have no doubt you all are on Santa’s extra-special good list.
Rick is fortunate to live off the I-90 hockey corridor where both his beloved Chicago Blackhawks and Rockford IceHogs (aka Baby Hawks) call home. Hockey has been in his blood since the early 1970’s when he saw his first Blackhawks game at the “Old Barn”. His favorite player is Keith Magnuson followed closely by Bobby Hull (old school!). When not covering the greatest sport, he enjoys watching live music and has even been known to join his beloved bands on stage for a song or two. Follow Rick on Twitter via @HawksStrength