ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — It’s now so much how a hockey team starts a season that matters, it’s where that team finishes the season, but the Rockford IceHogs are more than happy to be sitting in first place in the AHL’s Central Division here in early November.
They’re coming off a weekend sweep in Manitoba that has pushed their winning streak to four. Overal, their record is 5-2. That puts the IceHogs just ahead of the Texas Stars, the team that will be at the BMO Center Wednesday morning for a 10:30 a.m. kids day game.
The IceHogs still have the number one ranked power play unit in the AHL. They’re the fourth-highest scoring team in the league, and they’re playing strong defense. All of that makes for a happy team.
“The vibe’s great in the locker room,” said forward Joey Anderson who leads the IceHogs with 11 points this season. “I think guys are guys are excited and are happy with how we’re playing. I think our biggest thing is just being consistent on defense. I think we’re not giving up a whole lot of great chances for the other team, and obviously we’ve had great special teams, the power play and penalty kill have both been very good. “If you’ve got those and you’re all working hard, you’re going to have good chances every night.”
Rookie forward Colt Dach is one of the latest contributores to the IceHogs. He made his debut with them in Manitoba and he had his first AHL assist. Dach was the Chicago Blackhawks’ second-round draft pick in 2021. He is the younger brother of former IceHog and former Blackhawk Kirby Dach.
Dach spent last season in junior hockey in Seattle. He says he’s a mped for his first full professional season.
“I think I want to come in here and, you know, first professional season and show that I can play with these guys. I’m a bigger guy, use my hands. I needed to use my feet I think a little bit more in the first two games,but I’m excited to keep going.”
IceHogs head coach Anders Sorensen says Colton Dach is a different type of player than Kirby is. I asked Colton about that and if there was a tendency when he was growing up to try to play like his older brother.
“Yea, I mean, every time we were on the ice together, he was usually the one to trying to, you know, make plays and pass the puck. I was trying to play to the net, and then when we were doing one-on-ones I was trying to knock him into the snowbank on the end of the rink, so I think that’s where I kind of got my physicality from it, going against him, and trying to be the younger brother that beats up on the older ones.”
Dach wasn’t able to start the season with the IceHogs because he was dealing with an ankle injury.