Down on the Farm Report: Rockford IceHogs Prepare for Season Opener

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Down on the Farm Report: Rockford IceHogs Prepare for Season Opener

Chicago Blackhawks

This Friday, the Rockford IceHogs open up their season at the BMO Harris Bank Center in Rockford, IL, embarking on a 30-game schedule starting with back-to-back games against the Cleveland Monsters. This season, the AHL Central Division will pit the IceHogs against the Monsters, Wolves, Wild, and Griffins. All games will be against divisional opponents and the Calder Cup Playoffs are set to only be divisional playoff matchups until the final.

Meanwhile, the IceHogs will be getting two players from the Chicago Blackhawks taxi squad, with Michal Teply and Wyatt Kalynuk joining Rockford and Madison Bowey heading to the taxi squad (Bowey signed a two-year contract with the Blackhawks a few days ago).

The move is clearly to get Kalynuk and Teply into the lineup for the IceHogs as the Blackhawks want those two playing games and getting their professional feet wet, rather than sitting on the taxi squad.

Last week the IceHogs and Chicago Wolves came together for a preseason scrimmage and it did not go well for the IceHogs. A 6-1 loss to the Wolves left a bit to be desired from the young Rockford squad. Head coach Derek King spoke on Wednesday to the media, saying the scrimmage was a small wake up call for the new pros.

King also addressed just how much of a shock it might be for some players once they get their first taste of professional hockey. All told, the IceHogs have 13 players making their North American professional debuts this season.

With the Taxi Squad aspect of NHL rosters, this season is going to take away some talent from AHL rosters. With the IceHogs being so inexperienced, there will be a heavy reliance on the veteran players to step up and take leadership roles. King mentioned three players that will likely make up the Rockford leadership group with Cody Franson, Garrett Mitchell, and John Quenneville in the mix.

Of the young players making their way into the professional ranks this season, defensemen Alec Regula and Michael Krutil, as well as forwards Evan Barratt and Andrei Altybarmakyan have looked like they have what it takes to make it at the next level in the NHL (according to King).

The IceHogs play their first game of the season on Friday against the Cleveland Monsters. They will play 30 games total this year, finishing up the regular season on May 15th, if all goes according to plan.

Author: Mario Tirabassi

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