ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — The IceHogs are only days away from opening their season in San Jose against the Barracuda. The boys will depart from the airport Wednesday morning. Tuesday morning, they had some more veterans on the ice for practice.

David Gust, Brett Seney, Mike Hardman and Isaak Phillips were some of them. Those were part of the IceHogs’ core group last season. Their presence should help the IceHogs get off to a good start this season.

“It helps us as a staff for sure,” said IceHogs’ head coach Anders Sorensen. “It also helps the younger guys that are coming in to have guys to lean on and talk to. I think all those guys you mentioned including Joe Anderson, Healey and Bjork, they’re guys that, they all want to play an NHL. They shouldn’t be happy to be here, but they’re here, and they’re in the moment, and they’re going to be a great core of leaders for us.”

For several of these established IceHogs, it is an adjustment returning to Rockford after being in training camp with the Blackhawks right until the end. They all had hopes of making the Blackhawks’ roster to start the season. Phillips was one of the last guys to get sent down.

“I thought I had a good camp and I’m definitely happy with, you know, how I played,” said Phillips. “It’s just one of those things where you can go down and you either come down with a good attitude or a bad attitude. I’m going to choose to get better every day and try to use this time to get better and, you know, work on my game and be a leader down here.”

“It’s always nice when you come back and there’s a familiar face in the locker room,” said Gust. “It kind of settles you in, and not only that, but coming back to the same organization is is huge for me personally.”