By Jim Hagerty
ROCKFORD — The Rockford IceHogs return to BMO Harris Bank Center action Wednesday with a 2-0 series lead against the Manitoba Moose and a five-game unbeaten streak in the 2018 playoffs.
The trip back to Rockford comes after the IceHogs controlled the Moose on their home ice with a 4-2 win Friday and a commanding 4-1 tilt Saturday in the best-of-seven Central Division Finals.
The Moose struck first in Game 2 when Brendan Lemieux redirected a Nic Petan shot at 16:03 of the opening period. Rockford’s Tyler Sikura knotted the score just before the end of the frame and Chris DiDomenico buried the game-winner four minutes into the second.
Eleven minutes later, Carl Dahlstrom let a one-timer go that went top-shelf from the point to add to the Rockford lead. It was the defenseman’s first of the postseason and he’s now tied for third in team scoring with five points.
“They had a really good push against us, especially in the beginning,” coach Jeremy Colliton said. “We weathered the storm and got a big goal at the end of the period, which was probably a bit of a blow to them. Then we just got better as the game went on.”
The teams played scoreless hockey and traded penalties in the final frame, but Andreas Martinsen’s empty-net strike sealed the IceHogs victory and the 2-0 series bulge.
Collin Delia was in the Rockford goal Saturday and stopped 33 shots to remain unbeaten in the club’s quest for the Calder Cup. He leads all AHL netminders in the playoffs with a 1.52 GAA and ranks second with a save percentage of .949. Manitoba’s Eric Comrie had 18 saves.
Wednesday’s opening faceoff is at 7 p.m. R.