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The Rockford IceHogs got their quest for the 2015 Calder Cup off to a bang-beat, bell-ringing start down in Texas over the weekend. The Hogs took the first two games of their AHL Western Conference Quarterfinal from the Stars in games on Friday and Saturday.

As a result, I’ll be heading to the BMO Harris Bank Center Wednesday night to watch the IceHogs try and wrap up the best-of-five series. Now…who’s coming with me?

Well…maybe not as many as management would like. I’m sure the Rockford brass isn’t completely happy with the league schedule makers.

Texas, who averaged just over 5,000 fans this season in their building in Cedar Park, drew 4,375 Friday and 4,978 Saturday. The IceHogs, who set an attendance record this season by packing an average of 4,834 into the BMO and have “home ice” in the series, get to host a weeknight game. The challenge for the Rockford area is clear; can they fill the house without dollar hot dogs?

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The Rockford IceHogs have been at or near the top of the AHL’s Western Conference throughout the season due in a large part to their play between the pipes. Just how good have the Hogs been in net this season? It has been a season for the ages in terms of proficiency in the crease.

Through 73 games this season, Rockford has surrendered 173 goals. That total is good for a tie for third in the AHL. Along with Utica and Grand Rapids, the IceHogs are tops in the Western Conference.

So who is manning the net for Rockford in the playoffs? Head coach Ted Dent doesn’t know. At least, he didn’t…

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The Rockford IceHogs seem to be peaking at the perfect time of the season. Winners of eight of their last ten games, the Hogs have assured themselves of the team’s first trip to the AHL postseason in five years.

The IceHogs have avoided lengthy slumps that have doomed past campaigns. The worst stretch of hockey for Rockford came from November 28 to January 19, when the team was 8-9-4-1 in 22 games.

The Hogs tend to jell in the spring and this season has been no exception. What has been the difference is the team’s 15-4-0-1start. With 41 wins this season with seven games to play, the AHL franchise high water mark of 44 victories (set in 80-game seasons in 2007-08 and 2009-10) is certainly within reach.

You can point to a lot of factors that have gotten Rockford to this point. Here are some players who have provided a recent jump in the step of the IceHogs.

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If the Rockford IceHogs want to claim the AHL’s Midwest Division in 2014-15, the next two games on their schedule are vital. The IceHogs will have two shots at the team in front of them this week.


Rockford trails the Grand Rapids Griffins, who currently have 88 points, in the division race. The Hogs have 85 points, a game in hand on the Griffins and consecutive games against the division leaders.


The IceHogs are in Grand Rapids Wednesday and host the Griffins Friday night. Wins in both games would vault Rockford into first and could also pave the way for a run at the top seed in the AHL’s Western Conference.


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Recently, I noted that veteran center Peter Regin, drawing an NHL salary down with the Rockford IceHogs this season, could stand to raise his game in response to several offensive threats being called up to the Blackhawks. Regin has indeed increased his production in what has been a big run by the Hogs of late.

Regin’s seven-game point streak came to an end Sunday. Still, he has points in 11 of his last 13 games. He has three goals and eight assists in that span as Rockford went 9-3-1. This includes a four-game winning streak that has closed the gap on Grand Rapids in the AHL’s Midwest Division.

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The Rockford IceHogs were on the road this weekend, splitting a pair of Midwest Division contests. Grand Rapids defeated the Hogs Friday night to widen their advantage at the top of the division. Rockford got a win in Chicago over the Wolves Sunday afternoon.

The IceHogs trail Grand Rapids, who have won 14 of its last 17 games, by seven points in the standings. Rockford does have a pair of games in hand and haven’t been playing bad hockey, having won eight of its last twelve. If the Griffins ever cool off, a division title may yet be in the cards.