ROCKFORD, Ill.– Arvid Soderblom and Dylan McLaughlin were named Co-MVPs of the Rockford IceHogs last week at the close of the regular season. Both players figured heavily Friday night at the BMO Harris Bank Center in Game 2 of the Central Division Quarterfinal with Texas.
Soderblom blanked Texas for over 60 minutes to force extended play mode. McLaughlin’s snipe 56 seconds into overtime ended the Stars’ season.
Rockford won Game 2 1-0 to complete a two-game sweep of Texas in the play-in round, following a 2-1 besting of the Stars in Game 1 of the series Wednesday night. The IceHogs won the right to take on top-seeded Chicago in a best-of-five series that begins on Thursday, May 12 in Rosemont.
“It feels amazing,” McLaughlin admitted to the media following the win. “I think we deserved it; it was a great play by Mitchy (Ian Mitchell) and Philly (Issak Phillips) up top there, and then it wouldn’t have gone in without Cam (Morrison) and Carson (Gicewicz) in front, there. Just a credit to those guys and it was a good battle with Texas. We’re just super pumped right now.”
McLaughlin’s first goal of the playoffs came from the top of the left circle, which is where he wound up after receiving a pass from Phillips. The shot got over the glove of Stars goalie Matthew Murray, who was screened on the play by Morrison and Gicewicz.
The goal set the crowd of 5,327 into a frenzy as Rockford capped off a tremendous defensive effort against Texas, who dominated play for large stretches of regulation. The Stars came out smoking in the opening period, out-shooting the IceHogs 16-3. Rockford was on its heels for most of the first two periods.
On a night where Murray stopped 31 of 32 shots, Soderblom was just a bit better. The Hogs rookie sent away 36 Texas shots, most coming in the first 40 minutes.
“Sodi (Soderblom) has been a rock back there all year,” McLaughlin said of his goalie, “and he just continues to do it every game. We feel really confident with him back there.”
Despite the Wolves position as the top seed in the division, the IceHogs won eight of twelve meetings with Chicago in the regular season. Rockford will come into this series with equal parts momentum and confidence.
“It’s going to be a fun one, hopefully,” McLaughlin said of the next series with the Wolves. “That’s a great team, obviously, with some great players. We got some wins against them in the regular season, but it’s just going to be a whole other beast in the playoffs. We have a few days until we play them, so we’ll take that time and get ready for it.”
- Soderblom stopped 68 of 69 Texas Stars in the two games, good for a .986 save percentage. To the surprise of no one, he was voted the First Star of Game 2.
- Gicewicz also figured into Rockford’s Game 1 victory when he deflected a shot past Murray for the game-winner in the third period. In addition to screening Murray on McLaughlin’s goal Friday, he chased down a rebound behind the Texas net to keep possession for the IceHogs.
- IceHogs forwards Kurtis Gabriel, Dimitri Osipov, and Garrett Mitchell played their part in the series sweep. The three were able to regularly administer devastating hits to Texas skaters without so much as a single infraction between them. In all, the IceHogs committed just three penalties in the two games.
- Forward Andrei Altybarmakian, who came on strong in the last month of the season, did not skate in either game of the series. His last game action was April 30 in Milwaukee.
- Game 1 vs Chicago will take place at Allstate Arena on Thursday, May 12 at 7:00 p.m. CT
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