Rockford, Ill. – A Stephen Johns wraparound goal 23 seconds into the overtime period gave the Rockford IceHogs their first postseason sweep in team history. Rockford completed the Western Conference Quarterfinals series sweep over the defending Calder Cup Champion Texas Stars with a 3-2 overtime victory on Wednesday night at the BMO Harris Bank Center.
After a roller coaster game and the momentum teetering back in forth, the IceHogs took the final swing mid-way through the third period thanks to forward Phillip Danault's second strike of the night.
Down by a goal, Danault and the IceHogs tied Game 3 with 10:09 left during the third period. Danault won an offensive faceoff to the left of Texas goaltender Jussi Rynnas before firing a shot on the netminder that caromed off and back onto the stick of Danault. The second year pro swung at the rebound as he was falling to the ice and chipped it in over Rynnas to even the score at two.
Both goaltenders were on their game late in the contest as each fended off chances down the stretch to hold the tie. It didn’t take long for the IceHogs to finish it off in the extra session however.
Johns sealed the series in dramatic fashion for the home squad just 23 seconds into overtime. The d-man led a rush into the Stars zone along the far boards of the ice and wrapped around the Stars net before sneaking the puck between the right pad and post for his first career playoff goal.
The win advances Rockford to the Western Conference Semifinals. In conjunction with the AHL, the IceHogs will release a schedule and opponent for the second round at a later date.
The IceHogs got off to a great start in the opening frame as they registered the game’s first tally for the third straight game. Viktor Svedberg held the puck in the offensive zone before using home ice knowledge to his advantage and banking it hard off the back boards to an awaiting Mark McNeill. McNeill tried jamming the biscuit into the net but Rynnas made the initial save before Danault banged in the rebound to give the home squad a 1-0 lead.
The IceHogs carried an 18-11 shot advantage and dominated the majority of the play in the first period but Texas quieted the Rockford crowd as Devin Shore tied the game at one in the final minute of the opening 20 minutes of play. Shore, skating with the disc in the offensive zone, stopped at the top of the left faceoff circle and ripped a wrist shot past Michael Leighton with 39 seconds remaining for his first marker of the playoffs.
With the game tied at one, Texas seemed to flip the ice against the IceHogs during the second period to garner their first lead of the night. Brett Ritchie skated with the puck from the neutral zone into the Rockford end. The Stars winger then blasted the puck on Leighton and the rebound popped up into the air. Scott Glennie swung his twig along the ice and bunted it in for the goal with just 1:19 left in the middle stanza.
2015 Calder Cup Playoff Tickets On Sale: Fans can reserve their seats for the 2015 Calder Cup Playoffs by stopping by the BMO Harris Bank Center Box Office, calling (815) 968-5222 or online through Ticketmaster.