04/13/2008 7:40 PM
The Hogs thank the crowd of 4,857 after the final game of the 2007-08 regular season. (Photo by Greg Hamil)
Article By: Mike Peck
Hogs end season with 98 points and second place in the West Division
Rockford, Ill.- It took the final game of the season to answer all of the Rockford IceHogs' post season questions, but the Hogs finally have a final seeding and an opponent after a 5-3 win over Iowa on Sunday at the Rockford MetroCentre.
The Hogs finished the regular season with 98 points (44-26-4-6), which is good enough for second place in the West Division and home-ice advantage in the first round of the 2008 Calder Cup Playoffs.
With Houston's 3-2 shootout win over Milwaukee in Texas, the IceHogs are set to face the Aeros next week. The first and second games will be in Rockford and the dates are set to be officially announced on Monday.
In the Hogs final game of the regular season on Sunday, winger Kris Versteeg hit a one-timer off of a face-off win from Colin Fraser at 1:43 in the first period for the game's first score.
But then Perttu Lindren responded at 7:07, with assists from Tyler Shelast and Richard Clune, to tie the game. And Tommy Wandell doubled the Stars' score with a wrap-around goal at 7:34 to put the Stars up 2-1.
A blast from Troy Brouwer tied the game at two at 5:22 in the second with helpers from Versteeg and Martin St. Pierre.
With the assist, Martin St. Pierre finished the regular season with 88 points, second best in team history. Jason Firth had 110 points in the 1999-2000 season.
Derek Nesbitt gave the IceHogs their second lead of the game with a goal at 8:53 in the second period with helpers from Petri Kontiola and Jack Skille.
With the assist, Kontiola has had four goals and nine assists in seven games against Iowa. He also extended his games with a point streak to 11.
Fraser added his 17th goal of the season at 18:44 in the second, with help from Ryan Stokes and Jake Dowell.
But Iowa cut the lead in half again with a short-handed goal from Raymond Sawada at 3:41. Then Mike Blunden put a cap on the win with an empty-net goal at 19:59 to make the score 5-3. Dowell and Fraser again had the assists.
Corey Crawford took the win with 23 saves. Matt Climie had the loss with 15 saves in the first two periods. Mitch O'Keefe pitched in with 13 saves in the final frame.
Rockford has had success against Iowa this season, but it hasn’t come easy. Rockford is 6-2-0-0 including 3-1-0-0 at the MetroCentre, but the last four games in the season series have been decided by just one-goal.
Now the IceHogs turn their sights toward Houston, who finished the regular season series 3-3-0-0 with Rockford. The Hogs will be home first but that hasn't mattered much for these two teams. The Aeros and IceHogs are both 1-2-0-0 on their home turf this season.