Tales from the Trough: IceHogs swept 4-0 in first round of playoffs

After losing 4-2 to the Texas Stars April 23, IceHogs goalie Corey Crawford shakes hands with Stars defenseman Garrett Stafford. The Stars swept the ’Hogs 4-0 in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs. (Photo by Todd Reicher)

By Todd Reicher
Sports Columnist

Down 2-0 in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs, the IceHogs returned back to Rockford for games three and four. In the first two games, Texas put the first two goals on the board, and Rockford was outscored 5-2.

Game three took place Wednesday, April 21, at the MetroCentre. Rockford needed to get a jump on Texas in hopes of keeping the series alive. The ’Hogs started the period off well, hitting hard and fighting on the boards for the puck. The game was fairly well matched, until very late in the first period, when Adam Hobson was cited for a goaltender interference penalty. Only 5 seconds into the power play, Stars defenseman Garrett Stafford tallied his first goal of the postseason, giving the Stars a 1-0 edge after the first.

The second period, however, was all Texas. The Stars tallied four goals in the middle frame, and gave the Stars a commanding 5-0 lead after two periods. Similar to games one and two of the series, the ’Hogs were held scoreless in the first two periods. The first Texas goal came from rookie Jamie Benn just more than a minute into the second period. Stars captain Landon Wilson scored 11 minutes later, increasing the lead to 3-0. Texas’ Greg Rollo would score 3 minutes later on the power play, and Benn scored his second goal of the game late in the second.

Rockford would finally get on the board in the third, when rookie Ben Smith tallied his first professional goal. Smith, who was recently signed by the Chicago Blackhawks, was fresh from the NCAA Frozen Four tournament, where he played with national champion Boston College.

Texas once again increased the lead to 5 when Mathieu Beaudoin scored 3 minutes later, ending any chance of a potential comeback.

With the chance of being swept out of the playoffs in the first round for the second time in a row, Rockford tried turning up the heat in game four Friday, April 23.

Things looked bleak shortly into the first period when, on the power play, defenseman Andrew Hutchinson scored his first goal of the postseason.

But Rockford put on a good showing in the first, peppering Texas goalie Brent Krahn with 15 shots. Their efforts, however, left the ’Hogs empty as Texas once again held Rockford scoreless in the first, and went to the locker room with a 1-0 lead.

Rockford continued to shoot the rubber at Krahn in the second, amassing 13 shots, all of which Krahn turned away. Texas had better luck, scoring twice on 10 shots in the second period, increasing the lead to 3-0 after two. Beaudoin and Hutchinson scored their second goals of the postseason within 2 minutes of one another.

Needing to score more than three goals in the third period to keep their postseason hopes alive, Rockford finally lit the lamp just shy of midway through the first, when rookie winger Kyle Beach scored his second goal of the postseason.

Rockford applied constant pressure to both the Stars’ defense and Krahn throughout the remainder of the period. With the clock winding down, Corey Crawford was pulled from the net in favor of an extra attacker. The gamble paid off as Beach was rewarded with his second goal of the game off a great cross-ice pass from Bracken Kearns.

With the score now 3-2, and just more than 30 seconds remaining, Rockford needed to press even harder. A sixth attacker remained on the ice for Rockford, leaving the net open for the desperate ’Hogs. After a few shots on Krahn, Texas managed to come up with the puck, and with 9 seconds remaining in the game, Warren Peters put the puck in the back of the empty ’Hogs’ net, officially ending the ’Hogs season, sweeping the series 4-0.

With the season over for the ’Hogs, Tales From the Trough will have one more article next week recapping the ’Hogs’ 2009-2010 season, as well as looking forward to the 2010-2011 season.

From the April 28-May 4, 2010 issue

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