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By: Mike Peck
IceHogs and Stars to meet in West Division Semifinals

Cedar Park, Tex.-
Less than a week after getting their regular season home finale spoiled, the Rockford IceHogs did the same to the Texas Stars. Mark Cullen’s three points (2g-1a) paced Rockford to a 5-1 win over the Stars at Cedar Park Center on Friday.

The win assures a first round playoff date with the Stars for the IceHogs. Corey Crawford made 31 saves for his 24th win of the season.

Rockford struck first on Friday against the Stars with the only first period tally. Jack Skille picked up a deflected Danny Richmond blast from the blue line and swiped in his 23rd goal of the season 1:31 into the contest.

In the second period Mark Cullen extended Rockford’s lead with the first of two power-play goals of the frame. After a Bracken Kearns face off win, Skille found Cullen at the right point and the veteran centerman blasted his 20th goal of the season over the right shoulder of Matt Climie at 11:55.

Texas got the goal back, however, with a power-play marker of their own. Warren Peters tipped in a perfect centering feed from Travis Morin under the cross bar at 14:26, cutting Rockford’s lead down to 2-1.

But the advantage came through again for the IceHogs at 18:37. Kearns fought through a hit in transition and found Kyle Greentree streaking to the net and the winger buried his team-leading 25th goal of the season, making it 3-1.  Brian Connelly assisted the goal as well, setting a new IceHogs’ AHL rookie record for points in a season with 35.

In the third period Cullen and Matt Keith iced the game with a pair of late goals. Cullen tipped home a centering pass for Keith for his second straight two-goal game at 17:34. And then off of a face-off, Keith punched in his 21st goal of the campaign at 19:09 off of a win from Cullen.

After just two power-play goals in their last eight games, Rockford finished 2-for-4 against the league’s second best penalty. Texas scored on their only power play chance.

Playoff Tickets: Tickets for the first two possible home Calder Cup Playoff games for the Rockford IceHogs are now on sale. Tickets can be purchased at the MetroCentre Box Office, or by calling (815) 968-5222.

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