IceHogs fall to Stars in conference finals opener

CEDAR PARK, Texas – Sheldon Dries scored at 7:18 of the third period to give the Texas Stars a two-goal cushion and Mike McKenna stopped 31 shots to seal a 4-2 victory over the Rockford IceHogs at H-E-B Center in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals Friday night.

The loss was just Rockford’s first of the playoffs, and the IceHogs head into Game 2 with an overall record of 7-2.

Texas started fast out of the gates, netting the game’s opening tally just 4:22 after the puck was dropped as Curtis McKenzie hammered home a rebound.

The Hogs responded seven minutes later as Carl Dahlstrom’s power-play one-timer squeaked through McKenna for his third strike of the postseason, but the Stars regained their lead 1:18 later behind Roope Hintz’s breakaway effort to head to intermission ahead 2-1.

The IceHogs carried play for much of the middle frame, and Chris DiDomenico leveled scores once more as he potted a loose puck at the side of the net.

With his goal and an assist on Dahlstrom’s marker, DiDomenico now boasts four multi-point outings in the playoffs, and leads the AHL with 5g-8a-13pts in eight games. But at 8:47, Remi Elie notched a power-play goal to put Texas ahead 3-2 – a lead the Stars would not relinquish, as Dries added an insurance tally in the third period to seal their 4-2 victory.

Rockford’s Collin Delia suffered his first loss of the postseason as well, turning aside 20 of 24 Texas shots in just his eighth professional playoff start. The teams meet again in Cedar Park for Game 2 on Sunday. R.

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