The Ice fell behind quickly and dropped Game 1 of the Eastern Division Semifinal series to Green Bay by a 5-1 score.
Game 2 is Friday night at the Resch Center at 8:05 p.m.. The series heads to Indiana Saturday night for Game 3, and if necessary, Monday for Game 4. Both games will be at 7:05 p.m.
While the game pitted the USHL's most potent offense against its stingiest defense, Green Bay was the team providing the offensive fireworks early, showing no rust after a 10-day layoff. It took just 5:09 for the Gamblers to build a two-goal lead. Sam Herr scored at 2:58, and then Austin Czarnik added an unassisted goal just 2:11 later.
Daniil Tarasov had a quick tally for the Ice on assists from Brian Ferlin and Nick Mattson just 45 seconds after Czarnik's goal, but that would be the Ice's offensive output. Green Bay's William Kessel pushed the lead back to two goals at 13:34 of the first. Czarnik opened the second period with a shorthanded goal just 34 seconds in, and Andrew Welinski's goal at 18:18 of the second chased Ice starter Casey DeSmith.
Czarnik was a 20-goal scorer during the season, and was one of GB's top goal scorers.
At 5-1, the Ice had a tough road to hoe. Green Bay's defense suffocated the Ice in the third period, allowing goaltender Ryan McKay to see only two shots on goal in the period and 16 for the game.
Green Bay dominated the shots, building a 44-16 advantage for the game. It started early, as the Gamblers held a 19-6 shot advantage in the first period.
The silver lining? This is the third straight year the Ice and Gamblers have met in the postseason. In each of the last two, the team that won Game 1 lost the series in four games. The Ice hope that trend holds again.
1. Austin Czarnik (GB), 2 goals (including SHG), GWG, 5 shots, +3
2. Sam Herr (GB), goal, 6 shots, +2
3. Ryan McKay (GB), 15 saves, 1 GA, win in net
In the east's other series, Anderson Cup champ Cedar Rapids beat Muskegon 4-1.
In the west, top-seeded Dubuque beat Fargo 2-1 on a power-play goal in OT. Sioux Falls won on the road at Omaha 5-2 to take a 1-0 lead in their series.