Monday, May 27, 2024

With Recent Big Moves, IceHogs Are Suddenly Primed For Deep AHL Playoff Run


A Blackhawks team is playing in the playoffs tonight! Well, not the real Blackhawks, and not the NHL playoffs, either. That future is still a few years off. But that doesn’t take anything away from the fact that Chicago’s AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs, has set themselves up nicely for a deep AHL playoff run, one that begins tonight at 7:00 p.m. CDT.

While the experience won’t exactly match the thrill of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Calder Cup Playoffs are certainly something to celebrate. The IceHogs are a genuinely good team in the AHL and with an exciting, fresh lineup, they’re certainly a team to keep an eye on throughout the postseason for Blackhawks fans looking toward the future.

With a number of Chicago prospects recently making their debuts in Rockford just in time for the playoffs, the lineup is also one of the most exciting ones in a long time. In the final game of their regular season Tuesday, which ended with a dramatic overtime game-winner from Louis Crevier, the IceHogs had multiple players making their AHL debuts.

Forwards Nick Lardis and Martin Misiak, two of the Blackhawks’ most prized prospects, were put on the same third line. Lardis in particular has burst onto the scene in the last few months, willing himself into contention for next year’s Rockford roster. That wasn’t the only exciting spot in the lineup for Blackhawks fans, as the second line included Colton Dach and Ryder Rolston, two more young, talented skaters with their eyes on the NHL. Add to that NHL-caliber players like Lukas Reichel, Ethan Del Mastro, and Wyatt Kaiser, who were all sent down in April, and you’ve already got a really strong lineup.

As if that slew of stars wasn’t enough, Rockford added even more reinforcements Tuesday for their playoff run, with Alex Pharand and Samuel Savoie reporting. Savoie is undoubtedly the more recognizable name of the two after being drafted in the third round last year. After suffering a nasty femur injury in the preseason, he finished up his time with the QMJHL’s Rouyn-Noranda with four goals in 10 playoff games. He didn’t have to sign an ATO because he’s already signed with the Blackhawks. Pharand, on the other hand, did sign an ATO to join the team after ending his season with the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves. The 2023 fourth-round pick heated up at the end of the season and will undoubtedly make an impact at the next level.

Though the IceHogs have to knock off second-seeded Grand Rapids in a best-of-five series, there’s no question Rockford has the talent and the complete roster to be in contention for the Calder Cup. After adding a slew of new standouts to an already strong roster, Rockford is well-positioned to do some damage in the AHL playoffs.

The IceHogs host Grand Rapids at 7:00 p.m. CDT Saturday before playing games two and three on the road on Wednesday and Friday.

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