ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF)–By now the IceHogs would have hoped to have locked up a Calder Cup playoff spot giving them some breathing room in these final two weeks of the regular season. But no, two losses last weekend in three games have left them still fighting.
They avoided a weekend sweep by finishing strong Sunday with a 5-1 victory against Grand Rapids. The five goals were a welcome sight since the IceHogs had been shutout the previous two nights.
The IceHogs are still three points behind Iowa for the fourth playoff spot in the AHL’s Central Division. That spot would guarantee them home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. But first they have to get into the playoffs, and the Chicago Wolves are lurking within striking distance only four points behind the IceHogs for that fifth and final playoff spot. Those two etams will go head-to-head at the BMO Center next Tuesday in what could become the most important game of the season.
The guys say they’re well aware of the playoff picture, and they’re handling the pressure.
“I think we’re all aware what’s going on right now with the playoff scene and where teams are and who’s trying to catch who,” said forward Brett Seney. “I think it’s just coming together as a group. No one’s going to help us. No one feels bad for us, and if we’re going to have success, I think that’s (we’ve) got to come together and find a way with the group we have.”
“I think they’ve got a good demeanor,” said IceHogs’ head coach Anders Sorensen when questioned on how the players are handling the pressure. “They’re in a positive frame of mind. Yea, we’re ready to go.”
The IceHogs won’t have it easy this weekend when they play back-to-back games against the second place team in the Central Division the Milwaukee Admirals. The Admirals are tying to overtake the Texas Stars for first place. Friday’s game will be played in Milwaukee. Saturday night the Admirals will come to Rockford.