Daily Herald
IceHogs not a Wolves rival -- yet
By Scott J. Powers | Daily Herald Correspondent
Published: 2/1/2008 12:18 AM

In the eyes of coaches John Anderson of the Chicago Wolves and Mike Haviland of the Rockford IceHogs, it takes time for a rivalry to develop.

It isn't declared overnight because two teams are close in proximity, or one is an affiliate of the Blackhawks or the teams play each other 10 times in the same division.

Those are characteristics to what becomes a rivalry, but not the complete picture.

While Anderson and Haviland aren't ready to call the Wolves and IceHogs rivals, they do see them headed in that direction.

"Eventually it will turn into that," Anderson said.

"I agree with John," Haviland said. "It is a little early to call it a rivalry. I certainly think the proximity, us obviously being an affiliate of the Hawks and them being right in Chicago, helps it."

On Saturday, the teams will continue working toward becoming enemies when the IceHogs visit the Wolves at the Allstate Arena at 7 p.m.

Already, the Wolves and IceHogs are putting together a history. In their five previous matchups, four have been decided by 1 goal. Twice overtime has been needed.

"They've been great games," Haviland said. "The games have been great. They've been entertaining, hard hitting. It's just been good hockey. I think it's great, especially for our young kids to plays teams like that and have a rival. They're going to have that with the Detroits and others when they get to Chicago."

The Wolves lead the series 3-2, but neither team has lost on its home ice. The Wolves had the largest victory margin when they won 8-3 at the Allstate Arena on Nov. 24. After Saturday's matchup, three of the next four games will be in Rockford.

In the division, the teams are neck and neck for first. The IceHogs are 29-11-3-5 with 66 points through 48 games. In four fewer games, the Wolves are 31-12-1-0 with 63 points.

If the division comes down to the final week, they will have a chance to decide their own fate when they meet April 11 in Rockford and the following day in Rosemont.

The Wolves, who went through a number of significant early transactions, are pretty much intact now, especially with having the offensive trio of Darren Haydar, Jason Krog and Brett Sterling.

IceHogs haven't been as lucky. With the Blackhawks getting banged up, Rockford has lost standouts like Martin St. Pierre, Cam Barker and Jack Skille to the NHL.

"I'm just proud that they've stuck together with all the call-ups we've had," Haviland said. "I tell them nobody is going to feel sorry for you out there. You got to still play."

While Haviland does believe the affiliation to the Hawks enhances the rivalry, Anderson didn't have to think about his answer.

"No, I don't think so. We don't ever see the Blackhawks," he said.