05/12/2016 2:21 PM
Article By: Nate Haeni
Rockford, Ill. – The 2015-16 campaign was another banner year for the Rockford IceHogs, both on and off the ice.
The club qualified for the Calder Cup Playoffs for the second straight season after compiling its sixth 40-win campaign during the team’s nine seasons in the American Hockey League. Support from the Rockford community was also at an all-time high as the IceHogs set a new bench mark for overall attendance (190,492), while the record-setting 11 sellouts helped the team average over 5,000 fans per game for the first time in franchise history.
Off the ice, the IceHogs made their mark in the Stateline community with its highest donation total ($223,739) to charity in team history.
Topping the charts was the team’s 17th annual jersey auction held on March 20. The annual charity fundraiser beat out last season’s record setting total as the event brought in $81,000 with Special Olympics-Illinois as the main beneficiary. Add that total to the previous 16 years and the IceHogs have helped raise over $890,000 for local charities through the jersey auction. Some of the beneficiaries include The Autism Program at Easter Seals, March of Dimes, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America, Rockford area Boys and Girls Clubs, Jr. IceHogs and more.
Other fundraising events included the popular Pink in the Rink game on Jan. 16 which raised $37,452 for breast cancer research, and the 7th annual bowl-a-thon on Feb. 21 which supported captain Jake Dowell’s efforts against Huntington’s Disease.
Throughout the season, the players themselves created numerous initiatives to give back to the community in which they play. Before goaltender and team MVP Michael Leighton received a late season recall to the Chicago Blackhawks, he continued his “Leighton’s Minions” program from a season ago. Over the course of the 2015-16 season, Leighton, along with his wife Jennifer, treated over 150 special guests to a VIP experience at an IceHogs game. Leighton and his wife also helped improve the team’s Brovember Night and Autism Awareness Night through their “mystery puck” and “player favorites basket” fundraisers.
Fan favorite Pierre-Cedric Labrie, along with teammates Kyle Baun and Mike Liambas, organized an anti-bullying campaign. The trio visited a few area schools to share their own stories on bullying while educating students on the impact it can have on their fellow classmates. The three players even hosted a fundraiser in order to supply each student they visited with a special anti-bullying poster.
In all, the team, staff members, and the team’s mascot, Hammy, made over 100 appearances throughout the season as they visited schools, hospitals, hockey practices, and more.
The following are other charitable events the team hosted at the BMO Harris Bank Center during the 2015-16 season: Sock Drive (4,000 socks), Teddy Bear Toss game (2,287 stuffed animals), Goodwill Drive, and a Food Drive (212 lbs.).
For more information on the where Hammy and the IceHogs will be in the community this summer, check out the IceHogs Community Calendar.