2006-2007 ’Hogs leave unforgettable memories

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-118054279019592.jpg’, ‘Photo by Doug Halberstadt’, ‘Colonial Cup Champions, the 2006-2007 Rockford IceHogs team delivered to the fans of Rockford an exciting year of UHL Hockey. The IceHogs defeated the Kalamazoo Wings 3-1 in game 7 May 24 at the Rockford MetroCentre.‘);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-118054291619596.jpg’, ‘Photo by Doug Halberstadt’, ‘The United Hockey League (UHL) Championship Colonial Cup, and MVP trophy (top photo) and championship banner (lower photo).‘);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-118054295419594.jpg’, ”, ”);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-118054302119592.jpg’, ‘Photo by Doug Halbertadt’, ‘2006-2007 Rockford IceHogs owners Craig Drektrah and Dr. Kris Tumilowicz finish a tumultuous year with a championship.‘);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-118054306519677.jpg’, ‘Photo by Doug Halberstadt’, ‘Head Coach Steve Martinson and several of the players thanked Rockford IceHogs supporters for “being the greatest fans in the league.”‘);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-118054311919592.jpg’, ‘Photo by Doug Halberstadt’, ‘United Hockey League Commissioner Richard Brosal presents IceHogs’ Center Kevin Ulanski with the Most Valuable Player Trophy.‘);

The IceHogs winning the Colonial Cup Championship was extremely exciting to so many people, on so many levels. The players and coaches were rewarded for all of their blood, sweat and tears put in during the long hours of practice and games. The owners have been rewarded for the money and time they’ve invested. The ultimate reward for the fans of any team is the chance to cheer for a champion.

Many things during this championship season were exciting for me personally as I had a chance to cover the team and the games. I got the opportunity to meet many of the players and head coach, Steve Martinson. They always took the time to answer any questions we in the media would throw at them.

I was also treated very professionally by the ’Hogs media relations staff. They continually made sure we in the press got everything we needed before, during and after the games. I’d like to say a special thanks to the radio voice of the team, Mike Peck, for allowing me to sit in with him during one of the playoff games. Team owner Dr. T (Kris Tumilowicz) even returned my phone calls during a very controversial and busy time during the middle of the season.

The coolest thing of all occurred last Saturday night, May 26, when I went to cover the team parade and rally. I rode my motorcycle to the parking lot at American TV, hoping to get some good pictures. While I was waiting for the parade to start, IceHogs star Chaz Johnson asked if he could have a ride during the parade. I didn’t know if he was serious or not, since it was damp and rainy, and he was already in the PEAK Fitness Hummer. I said, “Sure, hop on!” and much to my surprise, he did.

We had a great conversation en route to the rally. He told me about his fiancée, his family back home in Canada, his car that was in the shop being repaired and how he hoped he would be playing in the American Hockey League next year. He said what a fabulous feeling it was to see all the people and hear all of the cars honking as they went by. He noted he had never experienced anything like that before. He expressed what a thrill it was for him to play in front of the fans in Rockford. It was a conversation that came among the cheers and revelry of a championship parade. We both agreed how cool it was.

Even though I had no intention of becoming a part of the parade, I’m glad Chaz wanted to go for his first-ever motorcycle ride. It’s a small part of a season that neither he nor I—nor any IceHogs fan—will ever forget.

Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.

from the May 30-June 5, 2007, issue

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