(ROCKFORD, Ill.) — The Rockford IceHogs are faced with having to win three straight games in Texas against the Texas Stars to extend their journey in the AHL’s Calder Cup Playoffs. No problem, right? For this team possibly not.
For starters the IceHogs have plenty of talent with the likes of Lukas Reichel, Rocco Grimaldi, Luke Philp, Brett Seney, Alex Vlasic, Arvid Soderblom and others. Plus, this team seems to be built on adversity. This is a team that made a habit of playing in and thriving in overtime games all season.
This team also knows it can compete with the Texas Stars. The IceHogs were 5-3 against the Central Division Champions during the regular season.
Another way of looking at an 0-2 deficit from a bright side is, being in a pressure situation like this should only enhance the growth and development of these young players who will hopefully one day face far more pressure-packed situations with the Blackhawks or elsewhere in the NHL.
“I think our season has been a little bit like that with all the overtime games we’ve been in and even just getting into the playoffs the last stretch and then the playing games, overtime games there,” said head coach Anders Sorensen following a brief Tuesday morning skate before the team flew out of Rockford to Texas. “I think it’s really good for them to be in those situations. Obviously, we want a different score than we’re in right now. We’re down 0-2, but you know what, there’s lots of positives to take over the last couple of games too. We have a couple of things we’ve got to clean up, and if we do that I feel really good about our game here.”
Nobody wants to be down oh-two, but forward D.J. Busdeker says there’s no other group of guys he’d want to be in that spot with than this group.
“Yeah, no for sure. I think that’s the beautiful thing about this group. I think these first two games we’ve been in both of them. I think we’ve had good opportunities, good looks. The puck just hasn’t gone our way. You know, there’s nobody I’d rather be in the trenches with than this group of guys in here. I mean, I think we’ve battled all year. You know, we’re battle tested, and I think it’s a good opportunity for us to get on Texas and show what we’re all about pressure.”
Game three of the series will be played Wednesday night in Texas. Games four and five if need will be played Friday night and Saturday night.