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Training Camp Is Here!

09/24/2010 3:38 PM - Mike Peck
It’s hard to believe, but training camp is here! Practice begins on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at the Rockford MetroCentre and the 2010-11 season officially gets underway.

As of right now (Friday afternoon), the Blackhawks haven’t made their second round of cuts, but here are a few storylines to watch during IceHogs training camp.

1)    A young team gets younger: The 2010-11 IceHogs roster could, and probably will, feature three 19-year-old skaters (Nick Leddy, Jeremy Morin and Brandon Pirri). There aren’t a whole lot of 19-year-olds in the AHL on an annual basis and the fact that Rockford could have up to three of them is very rare.

2)    Doesn’t get much older from there: Then if you figure that the IceHogs might have two skaters that are just 20 (Kyle Beach and Shawn Lalonde) and two 21-year-olds (Ryan Stanton and Chris DiDomenico), Rockford will probably have, if not the youngest, one of the youngest rosters in the league.

3)    Goaltending: The puckstoppers are going to be a huge point of contention this season for Rockford.  The two leaders to start the season are Hannu Toivonen and Alec Richards. Both skaters are kind of at opposite ends of the prospect spectrum. For Toivonen, this might be his last chance to prove that he is still an NHL prospect after getting drafted in the first round by Boston in 2002. As for Richards, he should get his first real chance to get significant AHL playing time. Joe Palmer will more than likely be the call-up guy for the IceHogs 2010-11.

4)    Any chance for the invitees?: When camp begins on Sunday, the IceHogs roster will feature a bunch of skaters trying to earn a spot on Rockford’s regular season roster. Here are a couple of skaters to keep an eye on to snag one of Rockford’s last roster spots:
-Josh Beaulieu: The winger spent the last three seasons with Adirondack and will look to stick with the IceHogs after getting a camp invite.
-Dustin Cameron: A rookie forward who put up good numbers (57 points in 71 games) in the WHL last season while skating with Price Albert.
        -Dallas Jackson: The young defenseman earned an invitation to the Blackhawks camp and in return a chance to skate with the IceHogs. Already signed with Reading, he could be a call-up guy if he doesn’t make Rockford out of camp.
    Over the past three seasons Rockford signed three players who came to camp on Try-Outs: Rob Klinkhammer (2008), Ryan Flinn (2009) and Matt Keith (2009). So it isn’t uncommon for noncontracted players to make the team.

5)     And what about the AHL contracted players?: I would say that Wade Brookbank, Kyle Hagel and Scott Fletcher all have great chances of making the IceHogs out of camp. A player to keep an eye on is Zack Torquato. The winger put up huge numbers in the OHL and signed an AHL deal with Rockford over the summer.

The tryout guys along with the AHL skaters will primarily skate in Rockford’s first two preseason tilts while a good group of regulars will see action in the Hogs final two preseason contests on Oct. 1 and 2.