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 Rockford IceHogs

Rewind: A Look Back at 2023-24- the 25th Season of IceHogs Hockey

May 15, 2024 - American Hockey League (AHL)
Rockford IceHogs News Release

2023-24 marked the 25th season of IceHogs hockey, and it brought new records, new storylines, and new excitement to the Stateline. Scroll through the season's journey with some of the memorable moments from the campaign.

Opening Night

The IceHogs kicked off the 2023-24 home slate on Oct. 21 in front of a sold-out crowd of 6,360- the first opening night sellout since 2013. Fans got to experience the Block Party before the game with food trucks, axe throwing, inflatables for kids, and live music from AudioDrive. Isaak Phillips scored the first home goal for the IceHogs in the second period, but Rockford fell to the Chicago Wolves 5-2.

Commesso Becomes Youngest IceHogs Goaltender to Record Shutout

On Oct. 28, Drew Commesso became the youngest IceHogs goaltender to record a shutout when he stopped all 18 shots in a 3-0 home win against the Grand Rapids Griffins. It was the rookie's third professional start and his second professional win. Fellow rookie Ethan Del Mastro scored his first professional goal in the game as well.

Dach Steals the Show with Hat Trick and Shootout Winner

Rookie Colton Dach took over Rockford's game against Iowa on Nov. 18 at Wells Fargo Arena. After scoring his first pro goal in the Hogs' previous game on Nov. 12 at Chicago, Dach scored all three goals for Rockford against Iowa and then added a shootout winner in a 4-3 victory. He became the first-ever IceHog to record a hat trick and a shootout goal, and he became just the second-ever IceHog to account for four goals in a game. The feat came in just Dach's seventh professional appearance.

Four Straight (Again)

The IceHogs were a streaky group to start the season. After four straight wins from Oct. 27 to Nov. 5, the Hogs lost four in a row from Nov. 8 to Nov. 17. Dach's hat trick game on Nov. 18 sparked another four-game win streak, capped off by David Gust's overtime winner on Nov. 24 against Milwaukee. The 2-1 win put Rockford at 9-5-1-0 for the season, but the Hogs would go on to lose the next seven games before rebounding in December.

Crevier Gets the Call

On Dec. 1, it was announced that the Chicago Blackhawks had recalled defenseman Louis Crevier from Rockford. On Dec. 3, Crevier made his NHL debut with the Hawks against the Minnesota Wild. Crevier played in 24 games with Chicago before returning to Rockford for the end of the season. The second-year pro appeared in 41 games for the IceHogs and tabbed 11 points (3G, 8A) in that span. Crevier was taken in the seventh round of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft by Chicago.

J.F. Rivard Opens IceHogs Ring of Honor

The IceHogs inducted the first three members into the team's Ring of Honor this season: J.F. Rivard, Corey Crawford, and Steve Martinson. Rivard, the IceHogs' first goaltender from the team's UHL days, was the first to be inducted on Dec. 16 at the BMO Center. Rockford won the game 6-2 behind a goal from David Gust and three-point nights from Jackson Cates and Mike Hardman.

Weeks to the Rescue

As Rockford looked for firm footing in December, goaltender Mitchell Weeks was called up from the Indy Fuel of the ECHL and helped buoy the IceHogs in the Central Division standings. Weeks' first game of the season came on New Year's Eve in a 4-3 win over Milwaukee, and the netminder went on to win two more games for the Hogs, including his first AHL shutout on Jan. 12 at Grand Rapids. Weeks spent most of the season in Indy, and he finished with a 3-2-0-0 record, 2.80 goals-against average, and .892 save percentage in Rockford. His presence in the middle of the season helped stabilize the team before rookie goaltenders Drew Commesso and Jaxson Stauber started to thrive.

Del Mastro Represents Rockford at 2024 AHL All-Star Classic

The AHL named rookie defenseman Ethan Del Mastro to represent the Rockford IceHogs at the 2024 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Tech CU in San Jose, California. Del Mastro earned All-Star honors after posting 17 points (4G, 13A) in his first 31 professional games. The defenseman recorded his first professional point with an assist on Oct. 27 against the Iowa Wild, and he scored his first pro goal on Oct. 28 against the Grand Rapids Griffins. The Freelton, Ontario native finished this season with 37 points (7G, 30A) and marked two points (1G, 1A) in four 2024 Calder Cup Playoff games. Del Mastro is the first IceHogs defenseman selected as an All-Star since Andrew Campbell in 2019. At 20 years, 11 months, and 27 days old, he is also the youngest IceHog to be announced as an All-Star since Adam Clendening in 2013 (20 years, two months, and 23 days at time of announcement).

Crawford's Number Retired in Memorable Night at BMO

Two-time Stanley Cup Champion Corey Crawford returned to Rockford on Feb. 10 when the IceHogs retired his number 29 and inducted him into the team's Ring of Honor. After spending three seasons in the Stateline from 2007 to 2010, Crawford still leads all AHL IceHogs goaltenders in games played, minutes, saves, wins, and shootout wins. The evening resulted in an attendance of 6,438- the largest of the season for the Hogs. Rockford won the game 2-1 after a pair of goals from Mike Hardman and a 15-save performance from Jaxson Stauber. The win for Stauber marked the start of what would become a 13-game win streak, good for the longest in team history. Stauber was also unbeaten in regulation in 14 consecutive games, coming up one shy of Crawford's team record unbeaten streak of 15 games from the 2007-08 season.

Stauber Makes History with Unforgettable Performance

Shortly after Corey Crawford's Jersey Retirement Night, rookie goalie Jaxson Stauber accomplished a feat never seen before in the AHL. On Feb. 16 against the Chicago Wolves, Stauber scored a goalie goal with a minute remaining left in the third period. Moments later, he completed the shutout with 24 saves in a 4-0 victory, becoming the first ever AHL goaltender to record a shutout and a goal in the same game. His goal was just the 23rd ever scored by an AHL netminder, and he joined his father Robb as the only father-son duo to both score goals as goaltenders in North American pro hockey history. The shutout was also Stauber's first as a pro.

IceHogs Honor Four WWII Veterans on Military Appreciation Night

The IceHogs honored four World War II veterans as part of Military Appreciation Night on Feb. 23. Sverre Vinge, a 99-year-old veteran of World War II who served in the U.S. Navy aboard the destroyer escort ship U.S.S. Donaldson, performed God Bless America prior to the National Anthem. Frank Kohnke, who served as part of the legendary 101st Airborne Division when he was only 16 years old, dropped the ceremonial first puck, and two local World War II veterans, Gene Kleindl and Sam Caruana, were recognized as "Hometown Heroes" during the game. Kleindl graduated from Rockford's East High School in 1940 and then served as a medic in the legendary 90th Infantry under General Patton. Caruana is a 102-year-old World War II veteran who, between the ages of 21 and 24, served as a forward observer in the artillery unit of the 104th Infantry Division.

7-Game Win Streak

The Hogs came within one game of setting a franchise record when they won seven straight contests from Feb. 21 to Mar. 12. Rockford outscored the opposition 31-17 in that span and scored four or goals in six straight games during the run. The win streak also contained five-game road winning stretch which was the longest of the season. Days later, the Hogs made the jump from fourth place to third in the division standings.

Philp Returns

After previously missing the entire season with an Achilles tendon injury, Luke Philp scored on Mar. 16 against the San Jose Barracuda in his first game back with the IceHogs since May 3, 2023 at the BMO Center since his injury in October. Philp led the IceHogs with 29 goals during the 2022-23 season and his 53 points ranked third on the team. At the end-of-season Team Awards, Philp was named as Rockford's Most Valuable Player by coaches and staff. He also recorded two assists in five postseason games with Rockford last season. Philp's goal, assist, and point totals with the Hogs last season were all career highs. Through 15 games this season, Philp recorded six points (2G, 4A).

Steve Martinson Joins IceHogs Broadcast & Concludes the 2023-24 Ring of Honor

Former Rockford IceHogs head coach Steve Martinson joined team broadcaster Mike Folta on most home broadcasts this season as a color commentator on the IceHogs Broadcast Network presented by BMO. Martinson made his on-air debut on Oct. 27 against the Iowa Wild at the BMO Center and was honored as the third inductee into the IceHogs Ring of Honor on Mar. 23. Martinson led the IceHogs to the team's one and only league title in 2007 when he coached Rockford to a Colonial Cup Championship in the UHL. Martinson manned the IceHogs bench from 2004 to 2007 and finished his Rockford coaching career with all-time IceHogs franchise (AHL or UHL) coaching records for career win percentage (.660), most wins a single season (48-twice), and most playoff games coached (39).

St. Patrick's Day Jersey Auction

Wearing special St. Patrick's Day jerseys, the IceHogs hosted their annual Live Jersey Auction with stunning results. A total of $66,200 was raised for the IceHogs Community Fund by the jersey auction immediately following the game, and additional funds were raised online to total $84,633, setting a new team record. The Hogs won the game 4-1 against the San Jose Barracuda. The team also won the St. Patrick's Day jerseys the game before and claimed a 4-3 win against San Jose.

Cole Guttman became the fourth IceHog in team history to be named the AHL Player of the Month after registering 22 points (11G, 11A) in 12 games throughout March. He was also named the league's Player of the Week for the period ending Mar. 31 when he posted two goals and six assists in three games. Guttman's second pro season was a successful one, and he finished with 40 points (16G, 24A) in 39 games. He also played 27 games in the NHL with the Blackhawks and recorded eight assists (4G, 4A).

Hogs Show Dominance Over Rivals to End Season

The IceHogs finished the regular season with a 3-2 overtime win against the Chicago Wolves at Allstate Arena on Apr. 21. The victory was Rockford's eighth consecutive win against its in-state rival after Chicago won the first four matchups of the season. The Hogs concluded the 2023-24 campaign with an 8-3-1-0 record against a Chicago team that missed the playoffs for the second straight season.

Packed Barn for Playoffs

Games 1 and 4 of the Central Division Semifinal round between Rockford and Grand Rapids were hosted by the BMO Center and the IceHogs faithful. Game 1 on Apr. 27 featured a crowd of 5,947, which at the time was Rockford's second-largest playoff crowd in team history. That mark was quickly surpassed by Game 4's sold-out crowd of 6,177. The only bigger playoff crowd in IceHogs team history was for Game 7 of the UHL's Colonial Cup Finals on May 24, 2007 when 6,236 fans crammed into the MetroCentre to watch Rockford's only league championship.

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