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New Schedule Quirks

08/22/2011 1:38 PM - Mike Peck
The new schedule is finally out! It’s quite a task to put together a 30-team, 76 game slate while trying to balance available home dates for all 30 teams. To keep costs down, the league tries to keep the schedule as travel friendly as possible. 

There are a handful of teams (the three Texas teams, OKC, Abbotsford, St. Johns, Norfolk and Charlotte) that have a little bit rougher road schedule than the rest of the league.  To help ease some travel, the AHL realigned in 2011-12 and the IceHogs will face divisional opponents head-to-head more than they did in the past.

Rockford will play 12 games each against Chicago, Milwaukee and Peoria and eight against Charlotte.

I like to judge the difficulty of a hockey schedule by travel (ie. quick turnarounds, busy stretches, etc.)  The 2011-12 slate was actually lengthened by a week while getting four games chopped off.  This eliminates three games in four nights, making it a much less taxing schedule.

The IceHogs only have two same-day games as flights and they both fall in the month of January (OKC to San Antonio on Sat., Jan.14 and Charlotte to Milwaukee on Sat., Jan. 28). Three games in three nights haven’t been eliminated however, as the IceHogs have seven of those.

Overall, it’s a pretty good scheduled from a travel standpoint. You can’t really judge a season’s worth of games in any sport by “strength of schedule” either. It’s not really who you play, it’s more when you play them.  Every team goes through hot and cold stretches during a 76-game season.

But there are plenty of oddities with the IceHogs schedule.

Peoria Early and Often:  Nine of Rockford’s first 33 games will be against the Peoria Rivermen in 2011-12, running through New Year’s Eve, meaning just three of Rockford’s final 47 contests will feature Peoria.

Where’s Milwaukee?: Rockford will have played Peoria seven times before they see Milwaukee for the first time in 2011-12.  The IceHogs first tilt against the Ads is set for Sunday, Dec. 11, Rockford’s 25th game of the season. Of their final 51 games, nearly a quarter of them (12) will be played against Milwaukee.

Wolves Out By March: If you’re looking for some meaningful Rockford- Chicago battles during the playoff push this season, you’re going to be disappointed.  The IceHogs and Wolves wrap up their 12-game season set on Sunday, Feb. 26.  Rockford will play their final 20 regular season games Wolves-free.

Early Risers: For the first time in Rockford’s 13 seasons of professional hockey, the IceHogs will play two morning games. Technically one of them is a noon start time (Nov. 9 at Grand Rapids), but is an 11 a.m. beginning in the Central Time Zone. The Hogs will also take on Chicago at 11 a.m. on Jan. 11.

Friday Free Hockey:  Rockford will not play a Friday home game until Nov. 25, Week 8 of the AHL regular season. Beginning Nov. 25, Rockford will play home contests over five of the next six Fridays with the only off Friday falling on Dec. 23, the weekend of Christmas.

Insight On The Upcoming Season

08/04/2011 3:38 PM - Mike Peck
Fans often ask what we do all summer during the “Off Season”.  Well besides take a collective deep breath and some vacation time, we don’t get a whole lot of time to sit on our hands as we have to start cranking on the new campaign.

It’s early August, and if we just now started working on promotions, sponsors, etc. for 2011-12, we’d be in for a long two months before Opening Night.

Here are some items that we have been working on this summer:

Alumni Game: An official announcement should be coming soon, but we have plans in place for an IceHogs Alumni Game on Saturday, Nov. 12. A big shout out to IceHogs Ambassador Oak Hewer for helping organize this event!

So far we have 11 players committed to play in the game including a few from the 2007 Colonial Cup Championship game.  If all goes well, we’d like to make this an annual event and really blow it out. We have some grander plans if this is a success.

Video Board Graphics: I think one area of our game operations that are really going to stand out this season is the videos on the video board. Jim Gade has been working on some really cool videos for this season and different graphics.

You can see the first one in the Hogs TV section on icehogs.com.  Jim is really talented and the staff has collaborated on several ideas that I believe will enhance the entertainment aspect of our events.

Fan Advisory Council: Another new idea for this season is our 12-person Fan Advisory Council. I am looking forward to getting feedback directly from the fans on this council. We should have the council selected by the end of next week and I think this is going to help us as a staff improve the overall experience at IceHogs games.

Revamped Chuck-A-Puck: We are looking at revamping one of our most popular promotions a bit for the upcoming season. Fans will have a chance to win up to $1,500 as there will be two different price levels of pucks to purchase for the promotion. This should put a new charge into Chuck-A-Chuck.

New Dasherboards:  The MetroCentre will feature new dashers this season. The penalty boxes are finally moving across the ice and our building will no longer be the lone venue to have the benches on the same side as the penalty boxes in both the NHL and AHL.

The new dashers will also feature a little different glass configuration which will be an enhancement. The panels on the sidelines will be wider, meaning fewer stantions to obstruct the sightlines.

Text Campaign: We are really trying to boast our texting program and have plans to implement some really cool new text campaigns. We’re hoping to offer deals via text to go along with final score alerts accompanied by a text box score.

Our biggest challenge as a staff is trying to reinvent ourselves each season to keep the entertainment fresh which equates to a better bang for your buck.

We love your suggestions and are ALWAYS open to hearing them. If you have any suggestions, let us know via email at icehogs@icehogs.com over the phone at 815-986-6465 or on our Facebook Page at facebook.com/rockfordicehogs.