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Blackhawks Prospects Notebook: Rockford Adds Defensive Depth

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It’s getting to the quiet time of the season before camps and preseason take hold in September. The Chicago Blackhawks weren’t expected to add much more but some more depth was added to the blueline in Rockford.

The IceHogs added Josh Maniscalco to the roster, helping to shore up a spot that might see some of the Rockford defensemen spending more time with the big club in Chicago.

Maniscalco Shuffled Between AHL, ECHL

The 24-year-old defenseman comes in with a few accolades to his name from the ECHL. While with the Wheeling Nailers, he recorded 28 points (8-20) in 31 games and was the Wheeling choice for the 2023 ECHL All-Star game. A season earlier, he garnered all-rookie, and second all-star team honors. He hasn’t cracked the NHL level and the contract is a one-year deal with Rockford.

Pittsburgh Hockey Now’s Dave Molinari wrote about Maniscalco last September, the offensive minded defenseman has a chance to get a chance to make an impact at the AHL level, where he’s only seen a total of 37 games over three seasons. Pittsburgh raved about his work ethic–something Sorensen and his staff can certainly use to try and unlock more of Maniscalco’s promise.

There will be an influx of younger players on their way so adding Maniscalco can help with the mentoring and managing minutes. IceHogs head coach Anders Sorensen looks forward to the new faces coming in, and adding Maniscalco will only help push the competitiveness he looks for.

“Its’ excitement, right,” Sorensen said. “Even watching some of these guys today, how competitive they are, even in the weight room. If they have extra team competition going up there and just how energetic and how excited they are to be here and just the competitiveness is what’s most exciting for me to see because at the end of the day, that’s what’s going to separate us.

We’re not going to win playing a certain system, we’re going to win with how competitive we are and how competitive we are as a team and as individuals.”

Rockford Home Opener Announced; Same As Blackhawks

They’ll open on the same night as the Blackhawks, and while the big club will get the attention, there will be a lot to watch for in Rockford, too.

The IceHogs will open against the Chicago Wolves, now an independent affiliate without an NHL parent club, which should be a unique challenge with them having no restrictions on roster construction. Sorensen is coming off of a 35-28-5-4 campaign and will be working directly with many of the younger core moving its way up. But as far it goes, he’ll be the same Sorensen he was guiding the team to another playoff berth in the Spring.

“I think it’s exciting, first of all,” Sorensen said of the new players arriving in Rockford.  “I don’t think if it changes my assignment. I am who I am. We’re going to do things the way we do it. Obviously Luke and his staff determine certain structure, how we play, but it’s not going to change me much. But it’s exciting that when you have this many players where the ceiling is that with a lot of them, it’s an exciting time for sure.”

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