The Rockford IceHogs have three games left in the regular season, with a playoff-clinching magic number of 1 entering Tuesday night's game at Iowa.
The IceHogs need a win at the Wild, or a Milwaukee Admirals loss that night, to clinch a Calder Cup postseason appearance.
"It's a great opportunity," says first-year head coach Jeremy Colliton. "You don't get a chance every year to play in this type of situation."
"Growing up watching the Stanley Cup Finals, seeing that intensity, you want to emulate that," says IceHogs right wing John Hayden. "Prove to each other we're capable of that type of game and that type of grit."
Before the IceHogs boarded their team bus to travel to Iowa, they took time to offer their support to the Humboldt Broncos hockey program, reeling from this weekend's tragic bus crash that took 15 lives. The hockey community has rallied to the Saskatchewan team's side, including Rockford's locker room.
"You have young kids who didn't get to live their full life. That's terribly disappointing," Colliton said. "You can't help but be affected by it."
"It's no surprise that a lot of teams jumped on board," said IceHogs center Tyler Sikura, who has organized charitable efforts to donate to the Broncos. "Everybody's looking to help."