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By: Chris Etheridge
Photo by Jason Villanueva.
04/25/2008 2:23 PM -
After splitting two games in Rockford, the IceHogs sweep all three in Texas

Houston, Tex.-
The Rockford IceHogs are headed to the West Division Finals.

With a 5-2 capstone to three straight wins over the Houston Aeros in Texas, the IceHogs have completed a 4-1 series victory.

It was a night of postseason firsts for the two teams.  It was the first game that either team led going into an intermission.  It was the first time that one team scored more than three goals.  And it was the first game that the teams combined for more than four goals.

Still, some things remained the same.  The Aeros finished 0-for-6 on the power play and 0-for-20 in the series, while the IceHogs were 0-for-4 on Friday and 0-for-19 over the five games.

Kris Versteeg put through a short-handed lamp-lighter at 1:55 in the first to put the Hogs up by one.  It was the first of four unassisted goals from the IceHogs on Friday.

It was Versteeg's fifth point of the series and third goal.  He led the series in both categories.

And then at 13:22 in the second frame, Mike Blunden put the IceHogs up 2-0 with his first marker of the 2008 Calder Cup playoffs.  He was assisted by Jim Fahey and Colin Fraser.

But 51 seconds later, Peter Olvecky cut the lead in half with a helper from Adrian Foster.

The third period was the IceHogs' time to shine.

Bryan Bickell put the IceHogs up 3-1 with an unassisted marker at 1:13 in the third period.  And Jake Dowell followed it up with a short-handed marker at 6:53.  That goal was also unassisted.

Morten Madsen forced through a goal at 12:26 to make the score 4-2 with assists from Olvecky and Ryan Jones.

But then Derek Nesbitt sealed the deal with an empty-net goal from his knees at 15:35.

The IceHogs finished with 25 shots against Barry Brust.  Corey Crawford allowed two goals in a game for the first time in the postseason.  His five-game goals against average is 1.10 and save percentage closed out at 0.955.  The Houston offense shot 30 pucks at him on Friday.

The IceHogs now wait and watch the scoreboard to see who they will face in the West Division Finals.  The Chicago Wolves lead the Milwaukee Admirals 3-2 in the other Semifinal series.  The two teams meet on Saturday in Game 6 in Milwaukee.

If Milwaukee wins both of the final two games, the IceHogs will begin the next series at home against the Ads.  Should the Wolves win one of the two games, the IceHogs will play two at the Allstate Arena and then come back to the Rockford MetroCentre for the next two.

Next Home Game: Game One or Game Three of the West Division Finals.  Check out or listen to local media to hear when the next game at the Rockford MetroCentre will be.

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