The Rockford IceHogs’ 2019-20 season is officially over after the AHL canceled the remainder of the season and the Calder Cup Playoffs due to health concerns over the coronavirus Monday. It’s the first time in the AHL’s 84-year history, there will not be playoffs or a champion crowned.
“After a lengthy review process, the American Hockey League has determined that the resumption and completion of the 2019-20 season is not feasible in light of current conditions,” AHL president and CEO David Andrews said in a statement. “The League’s operational focus has turned toward actively preparing for the 2020-21 season. We are grateful to the National Hockey League and its teams for their support and leadership in navigating through the challenges faced over the past two months. The AHL continues to place paramount importance on the health and safety of our players, officials, staff and fans and all of their families, and we all look forward to returning to our arenas in 2020-21.”
The IceHogs (29-30-2-2), the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate, had six home games remaining on their schedule and finished the season in fifth place in the Central Division. Rockford would’ve missed the Calder Cup Playoffs for a second straight season as the Chicago Wolves, the Golden Knights’ affiliate, held a .16 lead on points percentage for the fourth spot in the Central. The Milwaukee Admirals, the Predators’ affiliate, finished as the top team in the AHL.
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It was Rockford’s first full season under Derek King as head coach after the Blackhawks signed him and assistant coach Anders Sorensen to two-year extensions on April 26, 2019. The duo were elevated from assistant and development coaches, respectively, when Jeremy Colliton was promoted to the NHL to fill the Blackhawks vacant head coaching position after the firing of Joel Quenneville on Nov. 6, 2018.
Tyler Sikura, who was named Rockford’s second captain this season after Kris Versteeg and the team mutually agreed to part ways in November, led the IceHogs in scoring with 34 points (14 goals, 20 assists) in 63 games. Sikura’s younger brother, Dylan Sikura, was right behind with 33 points (14 goals, 19 assists) in only 45 games.
Rookie forward Brandon Hagel was the team’s top goal scorer with 19 and his 31 points were third on the team in 59 games. Second-year defenseman Lucas Carlsson’s 21 assists led the team and his 26 points in 48 games paced all blue liners.
Collin Delia was Rockford’s top goaltender for a second straight season with a 16-13-1 record, 2.66 goals-against average and .912 save percentage in 32 games during his third AHL season. Kevin Lankinen stepped up to the No. 2 role with a 8-10-2 mark and 3.03 GAA and .909 save percentage in 21 outings. After a strong ECHL campaign, Matt Tomkins moved to the AHL full time and had some success with a 5-7-1 record, 3.12 GAA and .896 save percentage to help him earn a two-year NHL contract.