Cleveland, Ohio - The Rockford IceHogs put forth a valiant effort with their season on the line, but came up just two goals short in a 5-3 loss to the Lake Erie Monsters.
Lake Erie jumped out to the 1-0 lead with an early first period power play. Ryan Craig tapped a pass to T.J. Tynan, who drove towards the left post. At the last second, Tynan found Josh Anderson open in the slot, and Anderson one-timed a shot past Mac Carruth to put the Monsters up 1-0.
The IceHogs nearly answered with a power play of their own as time was winding down in the frame, but could not knock a bouncing puck past a line of defenders in the waning seconds. The mad scramble led to a fracas in the slot as the horn sounded to end the first.
Zach Werenski tallied his second goal of the series at 7:40 of the second stanza. A clearing attempt by the Hogs was held in at the right point, and Werenski wired a wrister into the top right corner to push the lead to 2-0.
Jonathan Carlsson struck to cut the lead in half with 6:06 left in the period. Jake Dowell and Matt Fraser worked the free the puck to Carlsson, who skated into the zone down the left side. He wound up and blasted a shot that tipped off the glove of Joonas Korpisalo before finding the back of the net. The score remainined 2-1 heading into the final frame.
The scoring erupted in the third, starting with a power-play goal from Oliver Bjorkstrand. A quick pass from the top of the left circle off the stick of Daniel Zaar connected with Bjorkstrand on the right wing, and he fired a shot off the shoulder of Carruth and into the cage, pushing the lead to 3-1.
Tyler Motte answerd back with his second postseason goal at 8:49 of the frame. A point shot caromed off the end boards and banked off the side of the net to Motte, who quickly pulled it to his backhand before slipping it under the left pad of Korpisalo to draw Rockford back to within a single strike.
Just 1:53 later, however, Lake Erie jumped back up by two. Jaime Sifers blasted a shot from the left point and Zaar cleaned up the rebound with a shot under the bar. Ryan Craig then added to the lead, crashing the net to tap home a rolling puck at 14:58.
Rockford's never surrender attitude helped the team battle back. With the goaltender pulled for an extra attacker, Tanner Kero rifled a centering feed that skipped off the body of Mark McNeill and found the back of the cage, drawing the score to 5-3. It was as close as the IceHogs would get, however, as Lake Erie held on for a 5-3 win. The loss eliminated the IceHogs from the Calder Cup Playoffs.
Lake Erie finished the game two-for-three on the man-advantage, while Rockford ended the contest one-for-three.
Both Carruth and Korpisalo made 21 saves for their respective teams.