Friday, May 25, 2018

Texas Stars Can't Close the Deal Against IceHogs, Lose 3-1

(credit: Todd Reicher)
The Rockford IceHogs defeated the Texas Stars 3-1 on Friday, ensuring they wouldn't leave town with the Richard Clarke Trophy and forcing a game 6. The Stars trailed for the majority of the game and often failed to clear their zone against the relentless IceHogs forecheck. Veteran goaltender Jeff Glass was once again a huge factor and turned in 40 saves on 41 shots.

Mike McKenna struggled a bit in net and had an uncharacteristic play late in the third period that saw the IceHogs push the lead to two. Roope Hintz scored the single tally for the Stars.

The first period seemed like an eternity for the Stars and couldn't have ended soon enough. As has been the case for the past three game, the IceHogs opened the scoring. It only took three minutes of play for the IceHogs to pin the Stars in the their own zone and cycle the puck. Cody Franson capped the possession with a goal from the blue line.

The Stars suffered a defensive breakdown five minutes later, and Luke Johnson pushed the Rockford lead to two. Left unmarked streaking toward the crease, he quickly finished a cross ice feed from Victor Ejdsell.

David Kampf's hard shot mercifully rang off the post in the closing minutes of the frame. A goal there would have given the IceHogs an insurmountable lead with the way the Stars were playing. Curtis McKenzie even dropped the gloves with Cody Franson before first intermission to try and inject some life into his group.

The IceHogs held onto the puck for the first several minutes of the second period but generated little. The Stars earned their first power play opportunity, but the Rockford forecheck was as aggressive as ever and they held they controlled play while shorthanded.

After nine and a half minutes, the Stars finally got the push they wanted. They forced a turnover in the offensive zone and Hintz cleaned up Joel L'Esperances initial shot on goal, trimming the deficit to one. The ice slowly started to tilt towards the Stars as they outshot the IceHogs 14-6 in the frame.

Less than three minutes into the final period, Justin Dowling's breakaway backhand shot deflected off the post. The Stars generated a few good looks from that point, but Glass was better in the crease. To make matters more difficult, McKenna gave up the softest goal of his spectacular postseason run. With just over eight minutes left in regulation, Kampf threw a harmless dump in from the blue line near the Rockford bench, and it deflected off of McKenna's blocker, high into the air and into the net.

The Stars had one more power play in the closing minutes of the game and emptied their net. Glass, who seemed to be more galvanized as the game went alone, continued his strong play and sealed the deal for his club.

The series heads back to Cedar Park for game 6 on Monday. The puck drops at 7:00 PM CDT.

Tonight's lines:
Morin-Dowling-McKenzie
Dickinson-Dries-Markison
L'Esperance-Hintz-Flynn
Gurianov-Fyten-Mangene

Bodnarchuk-Scarlett
Heatherington-Regner
Nyberg-Bayreuther

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
O'Brien, Payne, Calderone, Kelleher, Rallo, Hansson, Paliotta, Robertson, Laberge, Desrosiers (scratch)
Elie (injury)

Tonight's attendance was 3,901.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Rockford - May 25 2018

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