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Rockford IceHogs roll at home over Manitoba Moose, take 3-0 series lead

The IceHogs remain undefeated in the Calder Cup playoffs after winning 4-1 in Game 3.

Brad Repplinger - Second City Hockey

After stealing both games last weekend in Manitoba, the Rockford IceHogs have taken a commanding 3-0 series lead in the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs with a 4-1 victory over the Moose on Wednesday night at the BMO Harris Bank Center in Rockford.

Rockford, the Chicago Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate, remain a perfect 6-0 in the playoffs and are one win away from advancing to the Western Conference Final for the first time in franchise history.

With anticipation swirling, the IceHogs looked to weather an early storm as Manitoba was poised to put some pressure on Rockford, the Chicago Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate. Though there were no goals scored in the first period, both the teams brought the offensive attack combining for 29 shots on goal. Rockford head coach Jeremy Colliton knew from the get go, the Moose would be playing with some passion in this game from the drop of the puck.

“They had some urgency, and I think we had it too. I think we had a lot of energy, a lot of emotion. If anything I think we had too much, but I we got it under control as the game went on.”

Urgency indeed, as the Moose would tally the first goal of the game early in the second period from Julian Melchiori. Manitoba’s lead would not last long though, as the IceHogs scored two goals in 1:07 to jump head 2-1.

Tyler Sikura cleaned up an Adam Clendening shot on the power-play, and 1:07 later Victor Ejdsell gave the IceHogs the lead for good with his fourth playoff goal. Ejdsell has six points (four goals, two assists) in five potseason games.

With momentum back on their side and the home crowd in a frenzy, the IceHogs would never look back. William Pelletier scored in the later half of the third period, and Matthew Highmore added an empty-netter.

Rockford goaltender Colin Delia made 36 saves in net and tied the franchise playoff win streak record at six with Frederic Cloutier (2007). Delia leads the AHL with a .953 save percentage and ranks second with a 1.52 goals-against average.

“I liked how hard we were against them,” Colliton said. “Our guys took their licks, but that’s just probably gonna be how it is for the rest of the series. However long it goes...”

Game 4 is at 7 p.m. Friday at BMO Harris Bank Center.

RFD goals: Sikura (4) PPG, Ejdsell (4), Pelletier (2), Highmore (2)

MTB goal: Melchiori (1)

SCH 3 Stars of the Game:

1) Collin Delia (RFD) - 36 saves, ties franchise win-streak record

2) Tyler Sikura (RFD) - 1 PPG, 3 shots on goal

3) Matthew Highmore (RFD) - 1 goal, 1 assist