Rockford, Ill. – The Rockford IceHogs suffered a 4-1 loss to the Texas Stars on Sunday night, falling behind 2-0 in the Central Division Semifinals series after the Stars scored two unanswered goals in the third period.
Despite two IceHogs power-play opportunities in the first 10 minutes of the contest, the Stars took a 1-0 lead halfway through the first period. Rockford went on the power play after a tripping minor called against Texas defenseman Michael Karow at 1:54 and a holding minor called on Stars forward Rhett Gardner at 9:06; however, the Hogs couldn’t capitalize on either man advantage.
Stars forward Oskar Back angled a centering pass from goal line, and Texas captain Curtis McKenzie snuck a shot past the pad of IceHogs goalie Arvid Soderblom at 8:08, giving Texas a 1-0 lead before the first intermission.
Extending the lead to 2-0 in the second frame, Stars forward Riley Barber netted a wrist shot past the glove of Soderblom from the left circle at 11:39. Barber was fed from below the goal line by former IceHog Tanner Kero who picked up his second assist of the series on the play.
Following Texas’ goal, Rockford started to apply pressure and generate scoring opportunities. The IceHogs controlled the puck in the Stars’ zone for nearly two minutes from 12:32 to 14:29, but despite putting six shots on goal, Texas netminder Matthew Murray denied all six shots to keep the Hogs scoreless.
The IceHogs finally cracked the scoreboard early in the third period. Rockford forward Rocco Grimaldi pushed a pass from the right point, and forward Joey Anderson bounced a wrister from the right circle over Murray’s shoulder and off the crossbar at 5:54, cutting the Stars’ lead to 2-1. The score gave Anderson goals in back-to-back contests.
Rockford’s momentum didn’t last when Barber tallied for the second time of the game at 16:32. After Barber punched in a wrist shot from the right circle and gave Texas a 3-1 lead, Rockford head coach Anders Sorenson pulled Soderblom in favor of the empty net and the extra skater at 17:25.
Sealing the Stars’ victory, Kero knocked in an empty-netter at 19:33 and put Texas up 2-0 in the best-of-five Central Division Semifinals series.
Soderblom suffered the loss with 25 saves on 28 Texas shots, and Murray held off the IceHogs’ offense, stopping 26 of 27 Rockford shots to earn his second career Calder Cup Playoffs win.
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