IceHogs Suffer First Loss In Calder Cup Playoffs, Fall 4-2 To Stars


After what seemed like an eternity (it was only a week), the Rockford IceHogs and Dallas Stars got their Western Conference Finals series underway on Friday night in Texas. With both teams touting two of the best goaltenders in the Calder Cup Playoffs, a low-scoring series might be expected, but in Game One it would be a six-goal affair with the Stars handing the IceHogs their first loss of the Calder Cup Playoffs and taking a 1-0 lead in the series with a 4-2 win.

Game One: Texas Stars def. Rockford IceHogs, 4-2

With two of the best goaltenders in the Calder Cup Playoffs, the Stars and IceHogs should expect a tightly contested Western Conference Finals series. Collin Delia of the IceHogs holds a perfect 7-0-0 record with a 1.64GAA and a save-percentage of .948, while Stars net-minder Mike McKenna is 7-2-0 with a 1.65 GAA and a .952 save-percentage heading into this series.

It wouldn’t take very long for the first goal of the series, though. Just over four minutes into the opening frame, the Stars got on the board as Curtis McKenzie was able to find the back of the net on a scramble goal. Delia made the initial save, but McKenzie was able to find the puck and score his third of the postseason and put the Stars ahead 1-0. It would stay that way until the IceHogs had a chance at a five-on-three powerplay just beyond the mid-way point of the period.

Rockford IceHogs

The Texas Stars score the opening goal of Game One of the Western Conference Finals. (Courtesy: Texas Stars)

While the best powerplay unit in the Calder Cup Playoffs didn’t convert on the two-man advantage, Rockford was able to extend their powerplay goal streak to 10 games as Chris DiDomenico setup Carl Dahlstrom for a one-timer and Dahlstrom found the back of the net to make it a 1-1 game. Shortly after the IceHogs tied the game, the Stars found themselves back on top as Roope Hintz found space behind the Rockford defense and put home his second goal of the postseason to give Texas a 2-1 lead, which would hold until the end of the period.

Just like the first period, the second period would only need four and a half minutes to find a goal as Chris DiDomenico was able to find a rebound off a Stars blocked shot and put home the game-tying goal early in the period. DiDomenico’s fifth goal of the Calder Cup Playoffs and the game would be knotted up at 2-2 early in the middle frame.

Chris DiDomenico Rockford IceHogs

Chris DiDomenico celebrates with teammates after his game-tying goal against the Texas Stars in Game One of the Western Conference Finals. (Courtesy: Texas Stars)

The tie wouldn’t last long though as the Stars would find their third lead of the game, coming from a powerplay goal by Remi Elie just before the mid-way point of the second period. The goal would mark the first powerplay goal against Rockford over their last six games. The 3-2 lead for the Stars would hold into the third period, marking the first time that the IceHogs would be down heading into the final frame, but Rockford continued to keep the pressure high on Texas heading into the third period.

The IceHogs would begin the third period with that momentum, but the early push was halted do to a Rockford penalty. While the IceHogs would kill off the Stars’ powerplay opportunity, they would score just a few seconds after the game returned to even-strength. Sheldon Dries was able to get his fourth goal of the Calder Cup Playoffs on a slick backhand shot and give Texas the two-goal lead. In unfamiliar territory, the IceHogs had to play from behind late in a game against a Stars team that was able to hunker-down and hold Rockford to just five shots in the third period. While Rockford would push late, they ultimately would not be able to find any magic and took their first loss of the Calder Cup Playoffs 4-2, and find themselves down 1-0 to the Stars in the Western Conference Finals.

HIGHLIGHTS: Texas Stars def. Rockford IceHogs, 4-2

Collin Delia made 20 saves on 24 shots faced, a sub-par day based on numbers alone, but two of the four goals given up were hard to hold over his head, as they came on net-front scrambles. On the other side, Mike McKenna stopped 31 of the 33 shots he faced on the night and improved his record in the Calder Cup Playoffs to 8-2-0.

What’s Next?

This Western Conference Finals series marks the third time in AHL history that the IceHogs and Stars have met in the postseason. Both teams hold a series sweep over the other with Texas winning a first-round series in 2010, and Rockford winning a first-round series in 2015.

Here is the schedule for the IceHogs and Stars in the Calder Cup Playoffs Western Conference Finals:

  • Game One: Texas Stars def. Rockford IceHogs, 4-2 (TEX leads series 1-0)
  • Game  Two: Rockford IceHogs at Texas Stars, Sunday, May 20, 5pm
  • Game Three: Texas Stars at Rockford IceHogs, Tuesday, May 22, 7pm (BMO Harris Bank Center, Rockford, Illinois)
  • Game Four: Texas Stars at Rockford IceHogs, Thursday, May 24, 7pm
  • * Game Five: Texas Stars at Rockford IceHogs, Friday, May 25, 7pm (*If Necessary)
  • * Game Six: Rockford IceHogs at Texas Stars, Monday, May 28th, 7pm (*If Necessary)
  • * Game Seven: Rockford IceHogs at Texas Stars, Tuesday, May 29th, 7pm (*If Necessary)

The Winner of the series will advance to the Calder Cup Finals and play the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and Toronto Marlies.

Leave a Reply