Brandon Pirri (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Amid all the furor surrounding the Chicago Blackhawks, their AHL affiliate Rockford IceHogs have had quite the season themselves.
Over the weekend, the IceHogs had their fifth sellout of the season, drawing 6,228 fans to the BMO Harris Bank Center. That final push on Fan Appreciation Night helped the team to set an all-time average attendance record, with an average of 4,560 people going through the turnstiles. The only reason the team didn’t set a total attendance record is because they only have 38 home games on their schedule now, as opposed to the 40 they did when they set the record in the 2010-11 season.
That isn’t the only reason the team is worthy of adulation, however. As the standings sit today, they are currently in the eighth spot in the Western Conference playoff picture with 83 points. Unfortunately for them, they have played two more games than the Milwaukee Admirals and Chicago Wolves, both of whom are only two points behind them in the standings.
Standing between them and postseason glory is a Texas-two step road trip, where they will face the San Antonio Rampage and the Texas Stars. The Rampage are well out of the playoff picture, but the IceHogs will face a huge challenge in the Stars, because they are currently in the top spot in the West and will want to knock off the red hot IceHogs to faceoff against the less momentum-laden Admirals or Wolves.
Even if the IceHogs end up falling short, their play in the last part of the season has to be a confidence booster for players and fans alike moving forward. They have won six of their last seven games, including games against the pursuing Wolves and Admirals over the weekend. They also can expect a boost from several players next year, including Hobey Baker Award winner Drew LeBlanc and hot shot Hawks prospects like Mark McNeill and Phillip Danault, who will be looking to hone their games for a future call-up with the Blackhawks.
We’ll keep you posted on the IceHogs’ playoff push, and if you’re interested, playoff tickets are not on sale on the IceHogs website.