Down On The Farm Report: Rockford IceHogs Open Training Camp

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Down On The Farm Report: Rockford IceHogs Open Training Camp

Chicago Blackhawks

The Rockford IceHogs, the AHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks, begin their season on February 5. Playing 30 games for the 2021 season against four different opponents, the IceHogs are coming together as a very young team and will possibly be focusing on development more this season than the wins and losses.

With training camp opening this week, we introduce the Down On The Farm Report, a weekly look at the Chicago Blackhawks farm system news and notes from the AHL Rockford IceHogs.

This season is not going to be like any other that the AHL has seen. It’s only divisional play, including the Calder Cup Playoffs. Not all teams are playing after three organizations opted-out (Charlotte Checkers, Milwaukee Admirals, Springfield Falcons). The IceHogs have the mentality that this season is going to be focused more on the development of the young players. VP of Hockey Operations Mark Bernard said in a media call on Tuesday, that this season is being looked at as an extended development camp:

The Rockford roster is full of young players, most making their professional hockey debuts this season. You can find the full roster here. One player that is joining the IceHogs at the start of training camp is former Blackhawks goaltender Scott Darling. The 2015 Stanley Cup winner is back with the IceHogs, where he played part 2014-15 season, after spending last season playing with HC Innsbruck in Austria.

Darling’s addition to the roster came as a surprise, but what was revealed in the media call on Tuesday was that his Professional Tryout agreement came as a necessity for Rockford. Goalies Matt Tomkins and Tom Aubrun were both deemed “unfit to participate” ahead of AHL camp opening. Darling, along with rookie Cale Morris, are currently the only two goaltenders active for the IceHogs.

He will likely play more of a mentor role for the IceHogs, but Darling isn’t joining Rockford just to be a coach. He is looking to continue playing until there are no more opportunities for him to do so.

The aforementioned Cale Morris is one of at least ten players in camp that will be making his North American professional debut with the IceHogs this year. Joining him is former Notre Dame teammate Cam Morrison. Both players are coming off highly successful runs with the Fighting Irish in the Big Ten, and look to be focal points for the IceHogs development this season.

Rockford opens the season on February 5 at the BMO Harris Bank Center in Rockford, although fans will not be in attendance at home games this season. The IceHogs will play 30 games in 99 days from February 5 to the end of the regular season on May 15.


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Author: Mario Tirabassi

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.