IceHogs jump out quickly on the Wolves in their first round AHL Calder Cup Playoffs series
ROCKFORD – This is a most unusual spring for Blackhawks fans. For the past two weeks, they’ve sat back and watched the Stanley Cup Playoffs without their team in it for the first time in a decade.
It’s not something they want to get used to, and the franchise doesn’t either. But at least one part of the organization is still going in the playoffs, and they’re facing another team from the Chicago area, filling fan’s playoff hockey void following the Blackhawks’ difficult season.
The Chicago Wolves, the AHL affiliate of the Vegas Golden Knights, is facing the Rockford IceHogs, the Blackhawks’ affiliate, in the best-of-five Calder Cup Playoffs first round series this week. So far the latter has jumped out to the quick advantage.
After a 2-1 win at Allstate Arena on Saturday night to grab home ice advantage, the IceHogs followed it up with a 5-2 victory at the BMO Harris Bank Center in Rockford Sunday afternoon. It gives the Blackhawks’ affiliate the shot to wrap up the series this coming Thursday in Game 3 at Allstate Arena, as the teams continue to trade home games throughout the first round series.
Featuring a number of players that saw time at the NHL level with the Blackhawks this year, the IceHogs broke open Game 2 in the second after each team got a pair of scores in the first period. Matthew Highmore put Rockford in the lead with a score just 3:47 into the second period and Chris DiDomenico added another before period’s end to make it 4-2. Lance Bouma added an empty-netter late in the contest.
Meanwhile the Wolves couldn’t solve goalie Collin Delia, who didn’t allow a goal in the final two periods in picking up his second win over the playoffs. His 30 saves frustrated Chicago, the Central Division champions, who must now win three-straight games to stay alive in the Calder Cup Playoffs.
So far this series is going much differently than the last time the team’s met in postseason back in 2007-2008, which ironically was the last time the Blackhawks missed the playoffs. That West Division Finals series featured a more back-and-forth trading of wins with the Wolves capturing the series in seven games en route to their last Calder Cup title.
Now they’ll need a major rally to stay alive against an IceHogs team trying to carry the postseason torch for their affiliate in 2018.