Chicago Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate, the Rockford Icehogs, are off to a great start. They started their season with a shutout win on October 7th against the Cleveland Monsters. Since then, they’ve gone 7-3-0 making them first in the Central Division and second overall in the league behind the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
The Icehogs have had an odd schedule so far. They had a week off between their first and second game, and another week later, they played three games back to back to back. Despite this, they’re playing great hockey with contributions coming in from many players all over their lineup.
Goaltending has been great thanks to the tandem of Jean-Francois Berube and Jeff Glass. Berube already posted two shutouts in the seven games he’s played. Scoring has been relatively high for the team this season. Forward Tomas Jurco, acquired by the Blackhawks during last season’s trade deadline from the Detroit Red Wings, has 4 goals and 5 assists, two of those goals were game-winning goals.
The Icehogs are also getting points from players who may not necessarily feel like they should be playing in the AHL. Forward Vinnie Hinostroza and defenseman Erik Gustafsson both played in the NHL with the Blackhawks prior to this season. Hinostroza leads the team with 11 points and Gustafasson is tied with Jurco for second with 9 points. Both Hinostroza and Jurco proved themselves during training camp but were unable to secure a spot in the NHL. With the Blackhawks dressing and rotating eight defensemen, it’s unlikely Gustafsson will be called up anytime soon baring an injury. As for Hinostroza, the Blackhawks are currently in a rut and are looking to address the problem with players already on the roster. But if they can’t, he’s the first player they would call up.
The Icehogs finished 27th in the league last season and made the playoffs the season prior. Consistency isn’t easy for a team whose sole purpose is to develop players and send them on their way to Chicago. It’ll be interesting to see how this season plays out given the great talent they have throughout their roster and how they will be affected any potential call-ups by the Blackhawks.