The IceHogs enter play this week in second place in the West Division of the American Hockey League with a 40-25-3-3 record. GM Mark Bernard is most impressed with the team's balance this season.
"If you look at our roster, it's not a star-studded lineup," Bernard said. "We are the definition of a team. We need everybody on board every night to have success, and that's what we've been having."
Last season the Hogs finished with 86 points, which is exactly where the team stands now with nine games left to play.
"To match last year's win and point total already, we're very proud of that," Bernard said. "We're still looking to clinch a playoff spot, but things are definitely looking good for us. The coaches have done just a tremendous job."Boynton's Stay: Short But Sweet
After being acquired at the trade deadline from Anaheim, and spending just 13 days in Rockford, defenseman Nick Boynton was called up to Chicago on March 16. Despite his short time with the Hawks' minor league affiliate, the veteran made a huge impact in the locker room, earning everybody's respect in his brief stint with the club.
"He is a first-class individual," said Bernard. "He is the type of player you want your young guys learning from. He stands up for his teammates. The first four games here, he stood up for his teammates twice and fought. He is a hard-hitting, physical type player. "
Boynton was drafted in 1999 by Boston and has played in 547 career games. Chicago is his fifth team.
"He has accomplished a lot in his career," said Rockford's head coach Bill Peters. "The short time he was here he did a lot for our guys off the ice; he's a great role model for the younger players. He is a pro's pro, and we really enjoyed having him here. He will do great with Chicago."Lalonde Gets The Call
Following the completion of his final Ontario Hockey League season, 2008 draft pick Shawn Lalonde
arrived in Rockford Tuesday, ready to begin his pro career with the IceHogs.
Though Lalonde's Belleville Bulls finished at the bottom of the OHL's Eastern Conference, the 20-year-old defenseman had another standout campaign, tallying 13 goals and 43 assists in 58 games. Known as a speedy and smooth-skating blueliner, its immediately clear how highly the organization thinks of Lalonde.
"With Shawn, we are getting a defenseman that's had a great offensive year in Belleville on a very poor team," Bernard said. "It's a jump and he will make mistakes. To evaluate him right off the bat would be unfair, we just want him to get his feet wet this year."
The Ontario native was drafted by the Blackhawks in the third round of the 2008 NHL entry draft. He is Belleville's all-time leading scorer among defenseman, notching 167 points in four seasons.
"He's a good kid, a hard worker, and I know he's excited about getting here. We're excited to have him," Bernard said. chicagoblackhawks.com will track Lalonde's play as Rockford heads into the playoffs.