ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) The IceHogs needed just about every break to go their way in the final weekend of the regular season to make the playoffs. However, a 3-0 loss to the Wild in Iowa on Saturday has officially eliminated Rockford from postseason contention.
The Hogs had high hopes heading into the 2018-19 campaign after a run to the Western Conference Finals a year ago. Instead, the team went through a lot of unforeseen adversity. Key injuries to players like Matthew Highmore, who was lost for five months after shoulder surgery, and Tyler Sikura (hand) for almost two months, took its toll on offensive firepower of the team. Highmore and Sikura were the two top goal scorers from last year's squad.
Injuries were not the only factor, however. The team went through a major coaching change at the start of November. Jeremy Colliton was promoted to take over the Chicago Blackhawks, thus making Derek King the interim head coach. This season is King's first year as a head coach, which he has admitted has had its challenges. Rockford is 29-27-3-4 in 63 games under King with one to go.
Another challenge this team faced was the number of call-ups, call-downs and signings. As college seasons were coming to an end, former Blackhawks draft picks were being added to the roster during the playoff push.
Despite all the adversity, the IceHogs were still in the hunt until the final weekend. Players will look back at two specific stretches and think, what if. A two-game trip to Manitoba at the start of March where the Hogs came away with one point and a three-game mini series with Milwaukee where they lost all three games in regulation and were outscored 16-6.
Rockford will look to finish the 2018-19 campaign on a high-note when the Hogs host the Admirals Sunday on Fan Appreciation Night.