On Wednesday night, the Rockford IceHogs returned home to take on the Manitoba Moose in Game Three of their Western Conference Semi-Finals series in the Calder Cup Playoffs. Taking both games in Winnipeg and thus a 2-0 series lead back to Rockford, the IceHogs would rinse and repeat the recipe for success that they have used all postseason long, having a strong performance in net from Collin Delia and success on special teams, and take Game Three and a 3-0 series lead.
Game Three: Rockford IceHogs def. Manitoba Moose, 4-1
It would be Collin Delia versus Eric Comrie between the pipes again for Game Three, with Delia having the season advantage over Comrie, 3-0-1 in four head-to-head meetings in the AHL and NHL this season. Delia entered Game Three with a perfect 5-0-0 record, the lowest GAA in the Calder Cup Playoffs at 1.52, and the highest save-percentage of goalies left in the Calder Cup Playoffs at .949%.
While the first two games of the series started with a feeling-out process, both teams wasted no time cranking up the physical play early on in Game Three. The teams traded 2-on-1 scoring chances in the first period, but Delia was able to make the save on one end, while Chris DiDomenico and Lance Bouma couldn’t convert on the other end for Rockford. John Hayden had a tremendous individual effort to set-up Tyler Sikura, but Comrie was able to make the save on Sikura, twice, as both teams searched for the opening tally of the game. Rockford would kill-off a late period penalty by Adam Clendening and the teams would head to the dressing room scoreless after the first period.
The second period wouldn’t take long to finally find the game’s opening goal as Julian Melchiori was open in the slot and found the back of the net for his first goal of the Calder Cup Playoffs. With that, Rockford has allowed the first goal of the game in all three games of this series. But, like the other games in the series, Rockford would respond. On a powerplay, Clendening took a slap-shot, Comrie made a save that Sikura was able to find the rebound on the doorstep and find the back of the net for his fourth goal of the Calder Cup Playoffs. Tied up 1-1, Rockford wasn’t done as Victor Ejdsell matched Sikura’s four Calder Cup Playoff goal with his own fourth goal of the postseason to give the IceHogs the 2-1 lead mid-way through the second period. The physicality from the first period would carry over into the second and cause a number of powerplay chances for both sides but neither team would convert after the two-goal IceHogs barrage and the period would end with a 2-1 lead for Rockford.
The third period would start with the IceHogs swarming the Moose and starting up right where they left off in the second period. As the period moved on, the Moose started to even-out the chances but the play would get tight as Rockford weathered a number of pushes from Manitoba, holding onto their 2-1 lead into the latter-half of the period. The clock would tick down to under seven minutes when Anthony Louis would find William Pelletier open in front of the Manitoba net and Pelletier would get one by Comrie. Pelletier’s second goal of the Calder Cup Playoffs and Rockford would extend their lead to 3-1 in the third period. Delia would make a tremendous sliding save and Matthew Highmore would take the loose puck and find the empty net for the insurance goal on a 4-1 victory in Game Three for the IceHogs.
Delia made 36 saves on 37 shots faced, earning the first-star of the game, and his sixth-straight win in the Calder Cup Playoffs. With the win, Delia improved his save-percentage to .953 and lowered his Goals Against Average to 1.44 in the postseason.
Rockford’s special teams also continued to excel in the Calder Cup Playoffs. With one powerplay goal on three attempts, and a perfect three-for-three on the penalty-kill, the IceHogs improved to 4-for-13 on the man-advantage and a perfect 8-for-8 on the kill.
Taking a 3-0 series lead, the IceHogs have a chance for back-to-back sweeps in the Calder Cup Playoffs and tie the franchise record set in 20007 for longest postseason win-streak at six-games. After the game, Rockford Head Coach Jeremy Colliton, Tyler Sikura, Carl Dahlstrom, and Collin Delia talked with the media.
Head Coach Jeremy Colliton
Here is the full schedule for the Calder Cup Western Conference Semi-Finals Best-of-Seven series between Rockford and Manitoba:
- Game One: Rockford IceHogs def. Manitoba Moose, 4-2 (RFD leads series 1-0)
- Game Two: Rockford IceHogs def. Manitoba Moose, 4-1 (RFD leads series 2-0)
- Game Three: Rockford IceHogs def. Manitoba Moose, 4-1 (RFD leads series 3-0)
- Game Four: Friday, May 11 at BMO Harris Bank Center, 7pm
- * Game Five: Saturday, May 12 at BMO Harris Bank Center, 6pm (* If Necessary)
- * Game Six: Tuesday, May 15 at Bell MTS Place, 7pm (* If Necessary)
- * Game Seven: Wednesday, May 16 at Bell MTS Place, 7pm (* If Necessary)
The winner of the IceHogs and Moose series will face the winner of the Tucson Road Runners and Texas Stars Western Conference Semi-Finals series. The IceHogs have never advanced to the Western Conference Finals in their AHL Franchise history.