05/13/2008 8:00 AM
The Rockford IceHogs will be looking for their second road win and a trip to the Western Conference Finals at the Allstate Arena tonight. (Photo by Steve Woltmann)
- IceHogs are 1-1 in Game 7s all time
Rosemont, Ill.- – The last time Rockford IceHogs’ winger Troy Brouwer was in a Game 7, he didn’t have a Game 6 or Game 5.
Or for that matter, he didn’t have a Game 4 or 3 or 2.
In Spring 2006, Brouwer’s Moose Jaw Warriors played for the President’s Cup in the Western Hockey League, a junior circuit in Canada.
Brouwer sprained a ligament in his knee in the first game of the second round against the Calgary Hitmen and sat out the rest of the series. It was the same year he won the Bob Clarke trophy for most points in the WHL.
So while he didn’t have the kind of build up in that series that he will have had in this years’ Calder Cup West Division Finals Game 7, the IceHogs’ leading scorer knows what a final deciding contest can mean to a team.
“You don’t hold anything back,” he said. “You don’t leave anything because if you do, you’re going to be sitting around all summer wondering ‘what if.’ ”
The IceHogs and Chicago Wolves meet for the 17th and final time this year on Tuesday night at the Allstate Arena. For Brouwer, playing one squad so many times gives him a chance to learn their tendencies and quirks.
“None of us want to go home, so we’re going to play them pretty hard,” he said. “You play a team 17 times, you get to know them.”
In their inaugural season, the Hogs have played no team more than the one 75 miles away in Rosemont.
“It’s always fun to get in there and battle with those guys,” said Rockford captain Jim Fahey. “They have the most points in the league. Going into their barn, it’s going to be a little bit bigger.”
Helping put a little extra boost in the IceHogs’ step is the fact that the team won 5-1 in the Allstate Arena in Game 5.
“That gave us a whole lot of confidence and it gives us a sense that we can win there,” Brouwer said. “The last time we were there, we won.”
It was the first time in eight attempts that the IceHogs put together a victory in Rosemont.
“We won three in a row and it’s tough to put four in a row together against that team,” said Fahey. “Now we know we can win there. We have a great game plan, so we just need to get in there and battle.”
Rockford’s franchise history book in Game 7 is somewhat light. The IceHogs have taken a series to the seventh game just twice in their six years in the postseason. Including last year’s final Colonial Cup championship game at the Rockford MetroCentre, the team is 1-1 in Game 7s and 0-1 on the road.
In the AHL, the home team is 38-31 all time in Game 7 but has won the last eight of nine games dating back to the 2006 Calder Cup playoffs. In the 2008 Division Semifinals, the Philadelphia-Albany match-up and Toronto-San Antonio series went to Game 7. In the Division Finals, Toronto and Syracuse played in the decisive Game 7 last night.
“It’s the ultimate game, it’s the best feeling,” said Rockford head coach Mike Haviland. “It’s 60 minutes of do or die. You don’t like to be in them too many times, but it’s great experience for our young guys.”
To listen to tonight’s game, tune into 1330 AM WNTA, ESPN 1380 AM WTJK or click here. Fans can also watch the game through the B2 Network for just $7 or at Damon’s Grill, 755 Clark Road in Rockford.
Next Home Game: TBD. With a win tonight, the IceHogs move on to the Western Conference Finals and a shot at the Calder Cup Finals. If not, the Hogs are eliminated from contention and head home for the summer.