05/12/2008 4:13 PM
Article By: Mike Peck
Some numbers behind Game 7
Rockford, Ill.-It all comes down to one game in the West Division Finals. The perfect ending for a treacherous first season between division rivals. The Rockford IceHogs and Chicago Wolves engage in Game 7 of the Calder Cup Playoffs West Division Finals on Tuesday night at the Allstate Arena. The game will mark the 17th time this season in which these two teams will meet up.
The American Hockey League has been around since 1936 and there has been 69 Game 7s in the history of the league’s Calder Cup Playoffs. After Tuesday’s Game 7 in Chicago, the AHL will have had four Game 7s through the first two rounds of the postseason in 2008.
Rockford’s Game 7 history doesn’t run all that deep, but probably the most memorable games in franchise history. The IceHogs most recent Game 7 was last springs Colonial Cup Finals at the Rockford MetroCentre against the Kalamazoo Wings.
That game is the only Game 7 ever played on MetroCentre ice. The IceHogs, of course, won that contest 3-1 to claim Rockford’s first ever professional hockey championship.
The other Game 7 was almost as memorable, but for the opposite reason. On May 10, 2005, the IceHogs and Fort Wayne Komets faced off in Game 7 of the Colonial Cup’s Western Conference Finals in Fort Wayne. With a berth to the Colonial Cup Finals on the line, the Komets netted an overtime game-winning goal to knock Rockford out 2-1.
Game 7s are where heroes are born. Most of the time it’s the goalies who can steal the show. Ask IceHogs puckstopper goalie Wade Flaherty about his Game 7 win with the San Jose Sharks on May 19, 1995. Flaherty turned away 56 Calgary Flames shots to lead the Sharks to a 5-4 double-overtime win in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
As for the Wolves, Tuesday’s Game 7 is the fourth in their 14-year history. Chicago is 2-1 in Game 7s with the most recent occurring in the AHL’s Western Conference Semifinals in 2002. The Wolves slipped by the Syracuse Crunch is that series deciding game and went on to win the Calder Cup.
Before Tuesday’s Game 7 in Chicago, the Calder Cup Playoffs will feature another series finale between the Toronto Marlies and Syracuse at the Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto on Monday night.
Entering the North Division Finals Game 7 between the Marlies and Crunch, the home team holds a 38-31 edge in AHL’s Game 7s. So far in the 2008 Calder Cup Playoffs, there has been two Game 7s and the home team won both as Toronto and the Philadelphia Phantoms staked Game 7 wins.
Only 18 teams have successfully come back from a 2-0 series deficit and win Game 7. Both Rockford and Toronto trailed their best-of-seven series 2-0.
With both the West and North Division Finals pushed to the brink, its marks just the second time since the AHL split into two conferences in 1995-96 that both second-round series in the same conference extended to Game 7.