Rockford IceHogs clinch playoff spot with a win at Iowa

Sports

The AHL’s Calder Cup playoff party will include the Rockford IceHogs. They clinched a spot in the field Tuesday night by winning at Iowa over the Wild 5-3.

First-year Head Coach Jeremy Colliton praised his team’s steady performance through the last several contests, as they rallied from a sixth-place ranking in the Central Division to notch points in 16 of the last 19 games and force their way into the playoff picture.

“I’m proud of the group we have. They’ve played hard, especially in the last stretch…the second half (of the season), really and been quite consistent,” Colliton said. “We’ve been able to find ways to get results regardless of circumstances, so I’m really proud of the work these guys have put in.”

With the score knotted at two Tuesday just past the 15-minute mark of the final frame, Chris DiDomenico carried the puck down the wing and wired a hard pass to Bouma at the edge of the crease. Bouma converted the pass into a simple deflection past netminder Niklas Svedberg to seal Rockford’s comeback victory and clinch the IceHogs’ spot in the playoffs.

But even though clinching is cause for some celebration, Colliton kept the win in perspective as the team primes for a potential run in the postseason.

“I don’t feel like we should throw a parade or anything – We want to be in (the playoffs), we’ve got a team that should be in. It’s nice to have (clinching) out of the way, but when I looked at this game, I didn’t put any big importance on it as far as saying “we have to get a point, we have to clinch now.” It was more about using this week to prepare because we’re going to be in,” he said.

Now, as the IceHogs close out the regular season with a weekend doubleheader against a potential playoff opponent in the Chicago Wolves, Colliton has some decisions to make, but Rockford’s bench boss says there’s still plenty to play for through game 76.

“(Resting players) is an option we have. We could also potentially be playing for the division, so that’s something we have to consider. Home ice advantage would be nice, and if we don’t get home ice, it certainly won’t stop us from winning the series,” he said.

“The big thing for me is that we want to have the group playing well going in. “I don’t think it’s a reset, I think we’ll continue to build.”

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