Firth leaves Rockford
Re: [IceHogs] booster club siteThis article was posted in the Rockford Register Star Today:Lets Go Hogs!!!Jim
Firth leaves IceHogs
for Tupelo T-Rex
By EMILY ALDRICH
Rockford Register Star
Jason Firth, the captain and leading scorer for the Rockford IceHogs in their inaugural season last year, won’t be in Rockford when the team returns this fall.
Firth will announce today he will play for the Tupelo T-Rex, a Western Professional Hockey League team in Tupelo, Miss. IceHogs coach Dale DeGray confirmed Monday that the center will go.
“He has told me where he expects to go, and it is Tupelo,” DeGray said. “He and I had discussions almost daily up until about 10 days ago, and that’s the latest thing we talked about.”
Firth, who played for Thunder Bay before coming to Rockford, was one of the first players to sign with the IceHogs after the United Hockey League franchise moved here last year.
At the UHL level, players basically become free agents after each season and are free to move to any team at any level.
“For me or anybody to think they’re going to get the same team back year-to-year is pretty naive,” DeGray said. “There’s a ton of players out there, and it’s just a matter of getting the people you want at the rate you can pay them.
“Jason and I were in line to get him signed to come back. He is a very talented hockey player. But him going truthfully frees up a lot of money for me, and there are some good players out there that have played at higher levels who will be available for us to pick up on.”
Firth, who has been playing pro hockey for 12 years, led Rockford to a 32-34-8 finish last year. The 29-year-old from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, scored 37 goals and also led the IceHogs with 73 assists and 110 points.
Firth has notched at least 100 points in his last six seasons, and he represented Rockford in the second UHL All-Star game last year, scoring one goal at the contest in Muskegon, Mich.
To fill Firth’s role, DeGray said he has two options to consider.
“Do I go out and get one solid, stud player?” DeGray said. “Or do I make sure I’ve got three lines that are basically the same?”
The International Hockey League lost two squads from last year, so DeGray said he will search for some players from that league that are looking for homes. The IHL is one step from the National Hockey League.
Firth will join Tupelo of the WPHL. The WPHL has 17 teams in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana. It opened in 1994 on the idea of establishing hockey in “nontraditional” markets for the sport. As far as quality of play, DeGray said the WPHL is a step down from the UHL.
Rockford’s season-opener is at home Oct. 13 against the Quad City Mallards.