CEDAR PARK, Texas – Chris DiDomenico scored with just 1:34 to play in the third period to tie the game at one and force extra time, but Roope Hintz netted the game-winner with 8.5 seconds remaining in the first overtime to help the Texas Stars eliminate the Rockford IceHogs from the Calder Cup Playoffs with a 2-1 victory at H-E-B Center Monday night. The IceHogs had rebounded from a 3-0 series deficit to earn Game 6, but the Stars’ victory seals the series and sends them to Toronto to take on the Marlies in the Calder Cup Finals.
The IceHogs were one of just 19 teams out of 136 playoff contenders in AHL history to force a Game 6 after falling into a 3-0 series hole.
With just over a minute and a half left in regulation time, DiDomenico collected an Adam Clendening pass at the top of the left circle and let loose a quick wrist shot that snuck through Mike McKenna to level scores and force the series’ fourth overtime in six games. With his tally, DiDomenico now boasts a league-high seven goals and 18 points this postseason, which sets an IceHogs all-time franchise record.
Hintz’s series-clinching strike came as overtime was winding down. Colin Markison won a puck battle in the corner and fed Hintz in the high slot for a quick shot over Jeff Glass’ shoulder with under 10 seconds to play. Glass posted a 38-save performance in Game 6, and stopped a total of 106 of 111 shots in three consecutive starts during the Western Conference Finals.
Texas’ other tally opened the scoring midway through the second period, as Sheldon Dries put the home team on the board off of an odd play. Dries carried the puck behind Glass before lofting a puck off of the netminder’s back and into his glove, which referees ruled had crossed the goal line, putting the Stars ahead until DiDomenico’s late effort.
McKenna turned aside 38 of 39 for the Stars in a bounce-back performance after dropping two straight, advancing to the Calder Cup Finals for a second consecutive season (did so with Syracuse in 2017).