ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — Someday we’ll perhaps look back at a great hockey career by Kirby Dach and say, ‘He got his pro start in Rockford.’ His baptism into pro hockey began last Saturday with the IceHogs. It is likely to end later this week, but in a brief amount of time we’ve already seen why the Blackhawks made him the third overall pick in the NHL Draft last June.
Dach has only appeared in two games so far. He hasn’t recorded a point. He hasn’t even taken a shot on goal, but those people with a true eye for hockey talent see an 18 year old with a ton of potential.
“He’s definitely got the tools,” said IceHogs forward Tyler Sikura. “He’s got the size. He’s got the skill. He can hold on to pucks. I think that’s the biggest thing that I’ve noticed if you can protect the puck at this level as an 18 year old then you’re going to be able to make some plays and you’re going to be a special player.”
Dach dominated in the Western Hockey League last season with Saskatoon. Those games were often mismatches for someone who’s 6-4 and 200 pounds. In the AHL Dach is being challenged by players who are more on his level physically.
“It’s more getting used to bigger bodies and just how strong guys are,” said Dach after practice Wednesday. “Coming from junior you get the odd matchup where you’re playing against a 16-17 year old kid. It’s just more maturity at this level and trying to play a pro mentality.”
Dach will be putting on a Blackhawks uniform soon enough. He’s in Rockford on a conditioning assignment trying to get back into playing shape after being out with a concussion that he suffered in August at the Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, Michigan.
“Its not easy coming down here to play a couple games for your first pro games as conditioning too,” said IceHogs head coach Derek King. “But I think he looks better and better. Even in practice today he looked real good skating.”
“I feel good out there,” said Dach. “I don’t feel like I’m falling behind or gasping for air out there. I feel good and I’ve got to keep pushing myself to feel even better the next day.”
Dach has no idea when he’ll get the call up from Chicago. He is limited in how long he can play for the IceHogs as an 18 year old.
“As of right now I’m here and I’m focused on helping the team win here, coming to the rink every day and practicing and just trying to get better and get to the next level.”
The IceHogs next game will be Friday night at home against the Chicago Wolves.