This afternoon, the American Hockey League announced the new division alignments for both the Western and Eastern Conferences. The IceHogs are affected by the realignment as the Charlotte Checkers leave the Midwest Division after just one season and the Grand Rapids Griffins slide in.
Grand Rapids joining the Midwest Division makes perfect sense due to travel and where they are geographically. It will be easier for the Hogs, Chicago Wolves, Peoria Rivermen, and Milwaukee Admirals to bus to Van Andel Arena in Michigan than to travel all the way down to Time Warner Cable Arena in North Carolina for four games. (The Hogs and Checkers played each other eight times whereas the Hogs took on the rest of the Midwest twelve times.) Travel is also made easier for the Checkers as they join the South Division with the Houston Aeros, Oklahoma City Barons, San Antonio Rampage, and Texas Stars.
If history repeats itself, this is also a beneficial move for the Hogs on the ice. The Hogs went 3-0-0-1 in four games (taking seven out of eight points) against Grand Rapids in 2011-12, running their lifetime record against the Detroit Red Wings’ AHL affiliate to 18-4-0-4. At home, Rockford has just owned the Griffins, posting an overall home record of 11-1-0-1; the Hogs opened the 2011-12 season with a 3-2 win at home against the Griffins. In Grand Rapids, the Hogs’ overall road record is 7-3-0-3.
The IceHogs hadn’t seen the Checkers until the 2011-12 season. Their first meeting was on November 6th at the BMO Harris Bank Center and Charlotte took the victory, downing Rockford 4-2. Overall in 2011-12, Rockford went 2-3-0-3 (only taking seven out of sixteen points) against the Carolina Hurricanes’ farm team.
Moreover, if the IceHogs can keep up their dominant play against Grand Rapids, the realignment could end up benefiting them in the long run, as more games against the Griffins could lead to more points in the standings.
-To see how the other divisions were realigned, visit the story on the AHL’s website. They also announced two new hand rules regarding playing the puck, no-touch icing until November 19th, and–finally–video review, something IceHogs fans should be very thankful for.
-The IceHogs released five home dates for the upcoming 2012-13 season today. The home opener at the BMO Harris Bank Center is set to be on Saturday, October 20th. The other dates are: Saturday, November 10th; Wednesday, November 21st; Saturday, December 29th; and Saturday, January 19th. (According to the AHL website, the AHL regular season will commence on Friday, October 12th. The full schedule should be released later this summer.)
-Good news for hockey fans that purchase their tickets through Ticketmaster: the IceHogs announced that all game tickets will be available through Ticketmaster outlets in and online beginning on July 1st. The outlets are located throughout Northern Illinois and include the Chicago Tourism Center in Chicago, Carson Pirie Scott in Joliet, Pheasant Run in St. Charles, and the Peoria Civic Center in Peoria. For much more information, read the official release on the IceHogs website.