ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF)–It’s the 20-24 year old players in the AHL who NHL front office members keep a sharp eye on to see if they develop into NHL players. But in the Calder Cup playoffs, it’s the older guys who teams lean on for guidance. The IceHogs have a pair of those.

Garrett Mitchell is 30 years old. Ryan Stanton is 32 years old. Both of them have been involved in Calder Cup playoffs multiple times in their careers. The older they get, the more they appreciate these postseason opportunities.

“It’s one of those things you can go your whole career, some guys can go their whole career and never play in a playoff game right,” said Mitchell. “I’ve been pretty fortunate to play in quite a few, and quite a few meaningful games too.”

Stanton and Mitchell were teammates once before in the playoffs. In 2016 they made a deep run with the AHL’s Hershey Bears going all the way to the Calder Cup Finals where they got swept by the Lake Erie Monsters. They’ll never forget the synergy on that team.

“We had a great group of guys there and obviously had a good team, but came up a little short, so it was tough to lose in the Calder Cup  Final there, but we talk about that a bunch, and we just want to bring our experience,” said Stanton.

“When I look back at that team that we had there, very similar to what we have right now,” said Mitchell. “A lot of our scoring or offensive firepower came from our younger guys. [] We had I think nine rookies that year.”

Stanton has reached the very top of hockey. He was on the 2013 Blackhawks team that won the Stanley Cup…a late call-up who basically only saw the ice during pregame warmups. Still it was magical, and Stanton and Mitchell would love nothing more than to recreate some playoff magic with this IceHogs team.

“Anything we can do to help and give the young guys a hand we’re willing to do,” said Stanton.

“I was telling the guys down the stretch you start looking back at your career the teams that you’re closest with the players and everything else are the teams you have success with,” said Mitchell. “I know that’s cliche to say it, but we’ve got a pretty good group. On the weekends we hang out together, so it’s not just at the rink, so it’s a pretty special group.”

NOTE: The IceHogs and Texas Stars will play game two of their best-of-three playoff series Friday night at 7:05 at the BMO Harris Bank Center. The IceHogs won the first game Wednesday night 2-1.