If you’re a fan of the Chicago Blackhawks, chances are that you have heard of their American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate team, the Rockford IceHogs. Rockford is about an hour and a half northwest of Chicago and their team’s roster is filled with young, promising talent that the Blackhawks organization has acquired through a combination of the NHL Draft, trades, and free agent signings. This season, the Hawks were a shell of their former selves. That’s where the Rockford IceHogs come in and give Blackhawks fans some hope for the future, and more specifically, shifts their attention to between the pipes and protecting the twine. Remember this name, Collin Delia.

Who Is Collin Delia?

He is your starting goalie for the Rockford IceHogs and like the Drake song, he literally started from the bottom in the ECHL on the verge of being cut, and now he’s here in Rockford, leading the IceHogs to an unheard of undefeated playoff run with a record of 7-0-0 as of Saturday, May 12th.

To start the 2017-18 season, Delia played in the Eastern Coast Hockey League (ECHL) which is another affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks’ organization. Delia had a 10 game stint for the Blackhawks’ ECHL affiliate, Indy Fuel. During this 10 game span, he had a 1-7-0 record and posted a .887 Save % with a 4.12 Goals Allowed Average (GAA). With a stat line like this, Delia was extremely lucky to still have a roster spot at all.

It was at this point that the Blackhawks decided that a change of scenery could prove beneficial and decided to call him up to Rockford – and boy were they were right.

Delia Elevates His Game

After being called up to the AHL, it has been a totally different story for Delia, as he posted a 17-7-2 record with a .900 save % and 2.72 GAA in a 28 game stint in Rockford’s regular season. Rockford IceHogs’ goaltending coach, Peter Aubry, breaks down Collin Delia’s rise and gives us his insight:

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Collin has been proving himself day-in and day-out during the IceHogs’ smoldering hot AHL playoff run on their quest for the franchise’s very first Calder Cup, which is the AHL equivalent of the Stanley Cup. In the 2017-18 AHL Calder Cup playoffs, Delia has been standing on his head for the IceHogs. In 7 games, he has posted a record of 7-0-0 with a .948 Save % and a 1.64 GAA. These numbers would easily be considered elite in the NHL, so Corey Crawford should be keeping a close eye on Collin. Seeing Delia elevate his play to this new level, under the added pressure of playing in the Calder Cup playoffs, has been nothing short of amazing to watch as a Blackhawks fan.

Things To Watch For

After sweeping the Manitoba Moose, who are the AHL affiliate of the Winnipeg Jets, the IceHogs will advance to the Western Conference Finals where they will go toe-to-toe with their rivals, Texas Stars, who are the AHL affiliate of the Dallas Stars. Here is the schedule for the upcoming series:

Game Date Time  Matchup
Game 1 5/18/18 7 PM Rockford @ Texas
Game 2 5/20/18 5 PM Rockford @ Texas
Game 3 5/22/18 7 PM Texas @ Rockford
Game 4 5/24/18 7 PM Texas @ Rockford
Game 5* 5/25/18 6 PM Texas @ Rockford
Game 6* 5/28/18 7 PM Rockford @ Texas
Game 7* 5/29/18 7 PM Rockford @ Texas

*if necessary

In 2010, the Texas Stars swept the Rockford IceHogs in the 1st round of the Calder Cup playoffs, and in 2015, Rockford returned the favor by sweeping the Stars in the 1st round of the playoffs. With that being said, the IceHogs will have their work cut out for them. The 2018 Western Conference Finals series should be extremely physical and competitive, which will result in some very exciting and entertaining hockey. Let’s see if Collin Delia can string together a few more elite level performances for the IceHogs and bring them one step closer to capturing Rockford’s first ever Calder Cup.