IceHogs fans wondered in online forums this fall how the American Hockey League version of their favorite team would react to their ringing cowbells and in-game chants.

IceHogs fans wondered in online forums this fall how the American Hockey League version of their favorite team would react to their ringing cowbells and in-game chants.


After the first weekend of home games, the results are in. They love ’em.


“Friday night, we were like ‘wow, we couldn’t believe this building,’ ” winger Michael Blunden said. “They (the fans) held up to their reputation. I’ve never seen anything like this with their songs and their chants and everything. It was just unbelievable.”


Blunden and IceHogs coach Mike Haviland said the fans made the MetroCentre feel like home.


“I had heard a lot of good things,” Haviland said. “But to actually go through it was awesome. They’re into the game, they’re loud and they have their little chants. I think it’s going to be a great building to play in and a tough building to come into.”


Ow, that felt good


Defenseman Steve Marr, called up from Pensacola to shore up the IceHogs’ injury-depleted defense, took what might have been one of the hardest hits seen in the MetroCentre when a San Antonio player rocketed a shot off Marr’s left knee in Friday’s home opener.


Marr, who has one goal and three assists in 66 AHL games, said he was merely doing his job.


“I like to go down and block (shots), and that’s just what happens,” Marr said on his way to get an ice pack wrapped on his knee. “That’s the type of player I am.


“I take a lot of pride in doing some of the little things that other guys aren’t expected to do. I’m not going to come up here and score a lot of goals. It may sound funny, but when the puck hits me, whether it hurts or not, it’s a really good feeling because I’ve done my job.”


Age not a factor


Four of the IceHogs’ six wins have come with Wade Flaherty, who turns 40 on Jan. 11, in goal.


Flaherty, who earlier this season had a personal 12-game winning streak snapped, stopped 41 shots in Saturday’s 2-1 win.


“He’s such a competitive guy,” Haviland said of the 18-year veteran who also is supposed to help mentor goalie Corey Crawford. “He still wants to win. He still wants to play in the National Hockey League and he’s done a great job with Corey. But he still has that fire burning in him and he’s showing that he can play.”


Big, but not the biggest


Friday’s crowd of 6,436 was the first home-opener sellout in the IceHogs’ nine-year history, but not the largest crowd the team has drawn. However, the two-game total of 11,931 was the most for its first two home games in a season.


The single-game honor goes to the final home game of the 2001-02 season when the UHL version of the IceHogs drew 7,420 fans March 29, 2002, for a game with the Quad City Mallards.


Even though the renovated MetroCentre’s seating capacity is listed as 6,436 for hockey, the actual seating will increase to 6,633 when the remodeling is finished.


Mike DeDoncker covers the Rockford IceHogs for the Rockford Register Star. Contact him at 815-987-1382 or mdedoncker@rrstar.com.