04/24/2008 3:32 PM
By: Mike Peck
IceHogs winger Jake Dowell and Houston defenseman John Scott battle for a loose puck on Thursday night in Houston. (photo by Jason Villanueva)
Kontiola and Versteeg solve Schaefer in 2-1 win
Houston Tex,- The script has been easy so far in the Rockford IceHogs-Houston Aeros West Division Semifinal Calder Cup Playoff series. Tied at the intermissions and finish in a one-goal game (except Game One because of an empty net goal).
Game Four on Thursday night followed that script and Rockford struck with two quick goals in the third period and held on for a 2-1 win. The IceHogs now lead the best-of-seven series 3-games-to-1.
For the third time in four games the IceHogs and Aeros skated to a scoreless first period. Both Corey Crawford and Nolan Schaefer faced nine shots and they both turned them all away.
The second frame featured a lot of the same from the first. Good chances but no goals. The IceHogs and Aeros did combine for a series single-period high 26 shots on goal, including 15 by the IceHogs. But once again, Crawford and Schaefer were sharp blocking all of them.
Rockford finally cracked the scoreboard in the third frame. Petri Kontiola found open ice on the left side of Schafer and winger Derek Nesbitt crossed a pass to the winger and he buried his first postseason goal at 12:49. Martin St. Pierre also assisted on the goal.
After going 52:49 without a goal, Rockford would get another tally just 43 seconds later. Winger Kris Versteeg split a pair of Aeros defenseman and slipped his second postseason marker in at 13:32 for the 2-0 lead. Troy Brouwer set the goal up.
Houston would not go away quietly, however, as they would cut the deficit in half. Center Marco Rosa picked up a Rockford turnover and fired in his second goal of the playoffs past Crawford at 16:02.
That was all that Houston could manage though, as for the fourth straight game the IceHogs and Crawford held the Aeros to just-one goal.
Both power plays were held off the board for the fourth straight game as well. Rockford went 0-for-5 while Houston finished 0-for-4. The two teams have combined to go 0-for-30 in the series.
Crawford finished the night with 30 saves while Schaefer was saddled with the loss after blocking 33 Rockford shots.
Next Home Game: Sunday, April 27 vs. Houston Aeros (Game Six, if necessary). Game time is 4:05 p.m. If Houston picks up a win in either Game Four or Five at the Toyota Center, Game Six will be held at the Rockford MetroCentre on Sunday and one team will have an opportunity to punch its ticket to the West Division Semifinals.