ROCKFORD — The Rockford IceHogs notched their seventh consecutive victory with a 6-3 win over the Manitoba Moose in Game 4 of their second-round series Friday at BMO Harris Bank Center to earn its first trip in franchise history to Calder Cup Western Conference Final.
Rockford previously was 0-2 in the second round with losses in seven games to the Chicago Wolves during its inaugural AHL season in 208 and five games in ‘15 to the Grand Rapids Griffiths.
For the first time in the second round, the IceHogs scored the opening goal on a one-timer by Cody Franson from Adam Clendening. It was the first of four power-play goals for Rockford, with its playoff total jumping to 15 in only seven games for another franchise record.
After keeping the Moose under wraps for the first half of the opening period, Manitoba tied the game when Julian Melchiori scored his second goal of the playoffs.
Chris DiDomenico would put the IceHogs back on top just 31 seconds later, with a short side wrister from the right circle past Manitoba goaltender Eric Comrie’s glove side. DiDomenico’s 11 points and seven assists lead the league in the playoffs.
Collin Delia continued to be rock solid, with a 35-save performance. His only blunder came on a short-handed opportunity by JC Lipon, who slid the puck between Delia’s pads on a breakaway to tie the game at 2-2.
The second period began with the IceHogs on a power play after a 5 minute major and game misconduct by Patrice Cormier. After Carl Dahlstrom found the back of the net with a one-timer from the top of the left point, Victor Ejdsell was given a penalty shot opportunity after he was interfered with on a breakaway. Ejdsell converted the penalty shot to give Rockford a 4-2 lead midway through the second.
The power-play kept on rolling in the second, as DiDomenico threaded a pass through the legs of two Moose defenders to find Franson wide-open for his second goal of the game. In the playoffs, the IceHogs have outscored their opponents 14-2, and outscored Manitoba 8-1 when it was all said and done. After an empty netter and a garbage time goal from Manitoba in the third period, the IceHogs stamped their ticket to the conference final.
The IceHogs will face the Texas Stars in the conference final. The Stars advanced by dispatching the Ontario Reign in four games and Tucson Roadrunners in five.
WE WIN! WE WIN! Chris DiDomenico scores a goal and two assits to help us to a 6-3 win in Game 4 to sweep the Manitoba Moose and send us to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in team history! https://t.co/VLwiePdjXq— x - Rockford IceHogs (@goicehogs) May 12, 2018
RFD goals: Franson (3 & 4), DiDomenico (4), Dahlstrom (2), Ejdsell (5), Martinsen (2)
MTB goals: Melchiori (2), Lipon (1), Kulevich (1)
SCH Three Stars of the Game
- Chris DiDomenico (RFD) - 1 goal, 2 assists
- Cody Franson (RFD) - 2 goals, 1 assist
- Victor Ejdsell (RFD) - 1 goal, 1 assist