After a definitive victory over Quad City in the opening round of the Colonial Cup Playoffs, the Rockford IceHogs initially limped into its second-round series against the Fort Wayne Komets. Rockford amassed just 31 shots while suffering a shutout in Game 1, before regrouping to efficiently sweep the remaining four games from the division rivals.
The Hogs pounded Fort Wayne’s goaltending to the tune of three or more goals in each of the final four games of the series. Rockford’s offensive effort also featured 40+ shots in two of those four games, including a franchise-record 50 shots during Game 3 at the Rockford MetroCentre.
Preston Mizzi scored goals in three of the final four games and Kevin Ulanski produced multi-point efforts in three of four to spurn the IceHogs to a 4-1 series victory and date with Kalamazoo in the finals.
Game 1 (April 27 at FW): Rockford 0, Fort Wayne 3
Pascal Morency netted what proved to be the game-winner just 55 seconds into the opening period and Kevin St. Pierre made 31 saves in Fort Wayne’s 3-0 shutout of the IceHogs. Mizzi offered a presence around the net throughout the night with five shots, and both Ulanski and Nicolas Corbiel put four shots on net, but St. Pierre turned away 13 shots in the first period, 10 in the second and eight in the third to seal the Komets’ victory.
The Komets also shut out Rockford during the regular season with a 27-save effort on Dec. 2 at Fort Allen County War Memorial Stadium.
Game 2 (April 29 at FW): Rockford 5, Fort Wayne 2
Rockford and Fort Wayne swapped a goal and remained knotted through the majority of the first period. However, Corbiel found the back of the net with just 4:12 remaining in the period, sparking a string of four consecutive, unanswered goals through the end of the second stanza. Ulanski assisted on two goals and potted a short-handed strike on the IceHogs’ final goal of the contest to finish with a game-high three points.
Goalie Frederic Cloutier made 20 saves in the win, setting the stage for his run of six consecutive victories through May 13.
Game 3 (May 2 at RFD): Rockford 3, Fort Wayne 2
The Hogs set a franchise postseason record with 50 shots on goal in a 3-2 victory over the Komets. Rockford scored each of its three goals during the second period, firing 29 shots in the 20-minute window with Mizzi netting a pair of tallies and Dan Boeser scoring a power-play goal to cap the frame.
Trailing 1-0, Mizzi initially tied the contest on a rare 4-on-1 breakaway, picking up a rebound from Bruce Cockburn and tucking the puck behind St. Pierre for the equalizer. He struck again just 56 seconds later for his seventh goal in seven-plus postseason games.
The two teams combined for 41 penalty minutes on 19 infractions in the chirpy contest.
Game 4 (May 4 at RFD): Rockford 5, Fort Wayne 2
Aggression from Game 3 carried over into Rockford’s 5-2 win in Game 4, with the Komets being whistled for 32 penalty minutes and the Hogs totaling 26 minutes in the box.
The showdown remained tied, 1-1, through the 14:03 mark in the third period when Rockford defenseman, Nathan Lutz, slapped a one-timer from Corbiel past Fort Wayne’s goalie for a 2-1 advantage. Jason Notermann followed suit with an insurance tally and both Mizzi and Lutz potted empty-net goals to ice a four-goal third period and 5-2 victory.
Goalie Cloutier allowed two or fewer goals for the third straight game to improve to 5-1-0 over his last six decisions.
Game 5 (May 5 at FW): Rockford 5, Fort Wayne 4
The IceHogs erased a two-goal deficit in the second period and one-goal deficit in the third period to dispatch the Komets and secure a spot in the 2006-07 Colonial Cup Championship. Five Hogs skaters tallied multi-point efforts in the never-say-die comeback, while five different players scored a goal to down rival Fort Wayne.
Guy Dupuis, who tallied just one goal in five games for the Komets during the first round of the playoffs, scored his third and fourth goal of the series with Rockford to boost Fort Wayne to a 3-1 lead early in the second period. The Hogs then mounted a rally behind tallies from Corbiel and Corey Hessler, re-tying the game with roughly five minutes remaining in the second stanza. However, Erick Tremblay beat goalie Cloutier at 19:23 to send the Komets into the locker room with a 4-3 lead.
In the third, Ulanski scored the equalizer on a feed from Kaleb Betts. Notermann then netted his second goal in as many games to send the IceHogs to the finals for a winner-take-all series with the Kalamazoo Wings. Visit IceHogs.com tomorrow (Thursday, May 11) for a recap of Game 1 from the championship round between the IceHogs and Wings.
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