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By: Chris Etheridge
Walleye to serve as ECHL affiliate of IceHogs and Chicago Blackhawks for 2010-11 season

Rockford, Ill.- The Rockford IceHogs, members of the American Hockey League, and Toledo Walleye (ECHL) have extended their affiliation agreement through the the 2010-11 season, Chicago Blackhawks General Manager of Minor League Affiliations Mark Bernard announced on Friday.

The Walleye will serve as the Blackhawks ECHL affiliate for the second consecutive season.  Under terms of the agreement, Chicago and Rockford will assign contracted players to the Walleye.

"The Chicago Blackhawks and Rockford IceHogs are both very happy to extend our affiliation with the Toledo Walleye for another season," Bernard said. "Once again we have found Toledo to be an ideal location for our young prospects to gain experience and develop their skills while enjoying tremendous fan support and all of the amenities that the Lucas County Arena has to offer.  Head Coach Nick Vitucci has done a wonderful job with all of our prospects over the past season and we look forward to having him help develop the next group of future Chicago Blackhawks."

This marks the first time since the IceHogs entered the American Hockey League in 2007-08 that Rockford will have the same ECHL affiliate in consecutive seasons.  The IceHogs were affiliated with the Pensacola Ice Pilots in 2007-08 as well as the Fresno Falcons and Gwinnett Gladiators in 2008-09.

"We are very pleased to have the opportunity to work with the Chicago Blackhawks," said Joe Napoli, Walleye President/General Manager.  "The first season went extremely well and we have established a great foundation."

Rockford has assigned six different players to Toledo in 2009-10, while the Blackhawks have assigned an additional six players.  Three of Toledo's top five scorers are playing under a Rockford or Chicago contract.

"We are very excited to once again call the Chicago Blackhawks our NHL affiliate,"
siad Walleye Head Coach and Director of Player Personnel Nick Vitucci. "It is such a thrill to work with such an exciting organization.  Mark Bernard has been great to work with and it has been my honor to help develop future Chicago Blackhawks.  I once again look forward to that challenge.”

Next Home Game: Friday, March 26 vs. Peoria Rivermen.  The puck drops at 7:05 p.m. The IceHogs and Rivermen meet for the final time in 2009-10, the teams’ tenth overall meeting. The first 2,500 fans to the MetroCentre will receive an IceHogs Zamboni courtesy of ESPN Radio 1380 and FOX 39.

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