The Chicago Blackhawks won’t have to travel far to scout their prospects in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs.
The Rockford IceHogs, the Hawks’ AHL affiliate, will play the Chicago Wolves, the Vegas Golden Knights minor league team, in a best-of-five Central Division semifinal. The winner will face the winner of the Manitoba Moose (Winnipeg Jets) and Grand Rapids Griffins (Detroit Red Wings) in the Central Division final.
Rockford is back in the playoffs after a year absence. The IceHogs have made the postseason five times since becoming the Hawks’ affiliate in 2008. They have advanced to the second round twice in 2008 and 2015.
Forwards Matthew Highmore and Anthony Louis are tied for IceHogs’ team lead in scoring with 42 points. Highmore’s 23 goals, including seven on the power play lead the team, while Tyler Sikura, the older brother of Dylan Sikura, is second at 22. Highmore scored two goals for the Hawks in 13 games this season.
The Wolves, who play at AllState Arena in Rosemont, are back in the postseason for a second straight year and fourth time since 2014. They’re no stranger to playoff success in the AHL with two Calder Cups in 2002 and 2008 while being an affiliate of the Atlanta Thrashers.
It’s the first time Chicago and Rockford have met in the postseason since 2008, when the Wolves took the Western Division Final in seven games en route to their first Calder Cup in their inaugural AHL season.
The Wolves will have home-ice advantage and host Games 1 and 3, and Game 5, if necessary. The series starts at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 21 at Allstate Arena and shifts to BMO Harris Bank Center the next day at 4 p.m. The teams will have three days off before Game 3 on Thursday, April 26 in Rosemont. Rockford will host Game 4, if necessary, on Sunday, April 29.
Here’s the full schedule:
IceHogs vs. Wolves playoffs schedule
|Game 1||Saturday, April 21||7 p.m.||Rockford at Chicago|
|Game 2||Sunday, April 22||4 p.m.||Chicago at Rockford|
|Game 3||Thursday, April 26||7 p.m.||Rockford at Chicago|
|Game 4*||Sunday, April 29||4 p.m.||Chicago at Rockford|
|Game 5*||Monday, April 30||7 p.m.||Rockford at Chicago|