08/24/2016 9:00 AM
Photo by Jim Orlando
Monday was one day that fans look forward to all summer – the day that the new AHL schedule is released. With the schedule in place and August drawing to a close, it can only mean that the 2016-17 hockey season is right around the corner.
To check out the full regular season slate, download it to your device, or for a printable version, click here.
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Below are a few notes on the IceHogs 2016-17 season schedule.
OUT OF THE GATE:
For the second straight season the IceHogs will open the campaign on the road. This time the Hogs draw the defending Calder Cup Champions in the Cleveland Monsters (formerly Lake Erie Monsters) for the first of back-to-back games at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, beginning on Friday, Oct. 14. Rockford plays the first three contests on the road before making their home debut as they host their Central Division rivals, the Milwaukee Admirals, on Saturday, Oct. 22.
During the team’s first four weeks of the season, the IceHogs will play every team in the Central Division at least once, with the exception of Manitoba. The IceHogs meet up with the Moose for the first time at the end of the season’s second month (Nov. 30 at the BMO Harris Bank Center).
Rockford doesn’t play its first game outside of the division until the 14th game (Nov. 13) when they host the Pacific Division’s Ontario Reign for the first ever meeting between the two squads.
||NUMBER OF MEETINGS
||The IceHogs and Checkers meet a total of four times, three of which come in a two-week span at the beginning of the season (Week 4 & 5). Then, the final meeting between the two clubs is three months later on February 18.
||The Illinois Lottery Cup rivalry is renewed for a total of 12 matchups on the season. After playing the 11th game of the season series on February 7, the IceHogs and Wolves won’t meet again until the second to final week of the regular season on April 9 at Allstate Arena. A season ago, the IceHogs captured the Illinois Lottery Cup for the second straight time and third overall.
||The IceHogs hope to exact revenge against the defending Calder Cup Champion Cleveland Monsters, the same team that ousted Rockford from playoff contention a season ago. However, the two clubs were evenly split during the regular season in 2015-16 with the Hogs carrying a 4-3-1-0 record vs. Cleveland, including a perfect 4-0-0-0 on home ice.
|Grand Rapids Griffins
||More IceHogs-Griffins. A rivalry that has started to heat up over the course of the past few seasons will add two more games to the mix. After playing a total of eight contests against each other in 2015-16, the IceHogs and Griffins will square off for a total of 10 this season.
||One team that the IceHogs wish they could see on the schedule more is the Iowa Wild. Since the Wild joined the AHL for the 2013-14 season, the IceHogs boast a record of 21-6-1-2 versus their neighbors to the West.
||After falling short in all four meetings last season, the IceHogs double their matchups against Manitoba in 2016-17.
||In a back-loaded series schedule, the IceHogs and Admirals tangle a total of 12 times. The Hogs face off against Milwaukee three times during the first three months of the season – all in Rockford. The IceHogs make their first trip to the new home for the Admirals, UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, to begin the new year on Tuesday, Jan. 3.
||The first ever meeting with the Reign is set for Nov. 13 when the IceHogs host the Kings affiliate at the BMO Harris Bank Center.
|San Antonio Rampage
||The IceHogs have fared well against the Rampage in recent years, going 12-5-0-1 over the past five seasons.
|San Diego Gulls
||Rockford makes their first and only trip to California in February for a back-to-back set against the Gulls and Reign on the 25th and 26th.
||Last season the IceHogs mastered the Texas two-step as the team swept all their contests in the Lone Star state, including two against the Stars and two versus the Rampage.
Rockford opened play last season against two of the AHL’s brand new teams in the San Jose Barracuda and Stockton Heat. This season, the IceHogs drop the games with the Barracuda and Heat and add two new faces to the schedule – the Ontario Reign and San Diego Gulls. Both teams joined the league during the AHL’s westward expansion prior to last season. The IceHogs will face off against the Reign and Gulls twice, each. It will mark the first ever meeting with both clubs, however, the IceHogs have matched up with the affiliates of the Anaheim Ducks (Norfolk Admirals) and Los Angeles Kings (Manchester Monarchs) in the past.
The addition of the Gulls and Reign to Rockford’s 2016-17 slate leaves only two teams in the Western Conference in which the IceHogs have never met – the Bakersfield Condors (Edmonton Oilers affiliate) and Tucson Roadrunners (Arizona Coyotes affiliate). Tucson enters the AHL this season after migrating from Springfield, Mass over the summer.
If the IceHogs hope to clinch a Calder Cup Playoff berth for the third straight season they will need a strong finish. Over the club’s final 18 regular season games, 17 are against division opponents. That could prove to be a pivotal stretch come crunch time.
Two fixtures on the schedule during that span are the Milwaukee Admirals and Manitoba Moose. The IceHogs battle with the Moose four times while squaring off with the Admirals five times during the final 18 games. With potential playoff spots on the line, Rockford and Milwaukee will play each other in three of the final five tilts of the regular season.
HOME AND ROAD:
The IceHogs 2016-17 season schedule is one of balance. The team’s longest homestand of five games falls in February (Feb. 11-18) and the Hogs only play four or more games in a row at home twice.
The road schedule is just as kind to the IceHogs. Rockford has road swings of four straight games on four separate occasions with the first occurring right off the hop. The IceHogs will make stops in Charlotte, Iowa and Grand Rapids to begin November with their first four-game road trip.
The IceHogs take the ice for back-to-back nights 28 times this season, and see three games in as many nights a total of five times. On five separate occasions the IceHogs will handle their busiest load with four games during the week. The first four-game week occurs during the 12th week of the season after the IceHogs return from Christmas break (Dec.26 – Jan. 1).