ROSEMONT – Cups of coffee being consumed after 11 PM, fans tweeting every moment past Midnight, then waking up a bit drowsy in the morning. All of these were characteristics of many of the Blackhawks’ playoff runs over the past decade.
Single overtime, double overtime, even a few triples were part of a number of postseasons that produced three Stanley Cups for the franchise from 2009-2017. Those are non-existent for the Blackhawks this season after the missed the playoffs for the first time in ten years.
But on Thursday night, their affiliate filled that void left by the parent club with quite a lengthy effort in their AHL Calder Cup Playoff game at Allstate Arena.
For 60 minutes, then 80 minutes, then through 100, the Rockford IceHogs and the Chicago Wolves engaged in a nearly five-hour Game 3 tussle in which the former squad had a chance to close out their Central Division rivals in their best-of-five first round series. Records were shattered on both sides as each team didn’t budge well into a third overtime.
It wasn’t until after Midnight, just short of five hours of play, that the IceHogs won the game and series-inning goal on the power play thanks to a slap shot by Victor Ejdsell that found the net to put the contest to an end with 2:38 to go. It’s a 4-3 win that sends them off to the next round, though this game is one to take some time to reflect on.
Officially the game started at 7:09 PM and ended at 12:08 AM – a four-hour, 59 minute contest that was the record length for each team and the 8th-longest in the long history of the AHL. The IceHogs fired a franchise-record 76 shots at the Wolves’ goal, and Chicago goalie Max Lagace’s 72 saves were also best since the team started play in 1994.
Rockford goalie Collin Delia made 52 saves, the record for the IceHogs in an AHL game, along with 30 in overtime. The team’s 131 combined shots was the most for either team in a single game.
Both teams provided a throwback night to games Blackhawks fans watched late into the night in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and now their affiliate gets to carry the torch. They’ll face either Grand Rapids or Manitoba in the second round with the first home game of the series coming on May 9th.