Saturday, April 23, 2011

Game 3: Gamblers 2, Ice 1, OT

The Indiana Ice dominated the extra session, but a quick counterrush goal by Green Bay's Austin Czarnik from the mid-slot ended the Ice's season 2-1 tonight.

Czarnik's goal came at 10:16 of overtime, and ended a back-and-forth game that each team controlled for long stretches. It was his third goal of the series.

The Gamblers advance to the USHL East Division finals as they look to defend their Clark Cup championship, as they sweep the series 3-0. They will face either Cedar Rapids or Muskegon in the division final series. Cedar Rapids currently holds a 2-1 lead in that series with Game 4 in Muskegon Monday night. The West Division final was also set tonight, as top-seeded Dubuque will face third-seeded Sioux Falls, both of whom finished off sweeps this evening. 

The game-winner came on a quick rush and a feed from Jean-Paul LaFontaine, who fed Czarnik in front of the net. He beat Casey DeSmith with the Gamblers' 41st shot of the game. It was just their second of overtime, as the Ice had peppered the Gambler net with shots. Goaltender Adam Wilcox stopped all nine of the Ice's shots, including stuffing USHL leading scorer Blake Coleman twice on the doorstep.

The Ice carried the play in the opening 20 minutes, and used that momentum to score the game's first goal. Chris Martin carried up the left side and fired a shot that Wilcox stopped, but the rebound kicked right to David Johnstone, who buried it for his third goal of the postseason just 36 seconds into the second period. At that point, the Ice held a 13-4 shot advantage. Green Bay would outshoot the Ice 19-4 over the rest of the period, and 31-9 for the rest of regulation.

Green Bay would get the equalizer midway through the second. Ludwig Karlsson rifled a shot from the mid-slot and tied the game with 5:12 left in the second period.

However, DeSmith was incredible much of the night. Green Bay had five second-period power plays, including an extended 5-on-3. Yet, the Ice were able to stay in it because of their goaltending. In one mid-period sequence, DeSmith robbed Sam Herr and Alex Broadhurst on back-to-back shots, the latter one a sprawling blocker save as he dove to the side of the net to stop the missive. DeSmith made 39 saves in what will be his final game in an Ice uniform. He is headed to the University of New Hampshire next year.

Green Bay was 1-for-7 on the power play. The Ice were 0-for-2. 

The energy level picked up as the game went on, and the Ice played like a desperate team in overtime, but Wilcox stood tall, making his first start of the playoffs. He stopped 30 shots and helped Green Bay show why it had the league's best defense. The Gamblers held the Ice to one goal in each of the three games.

A huge -- and spirited -- crowd of 4,305 left disappointed, but having seen a very well-played game.

In the series, Green Bay outscored the Ice 10-3, and was 2-for-15 on the power play. The Ice were 0-for-6. Czarnik's three goals led the Gamblers. The Miami (Ohio) recruit was a 20-goal scorer in the regular season.

Another strong Ice season comes to a close -- as the Ice ended up having the USHL's top two teams -- Cedar Rapids and Green Bay -- in their division this year, and thus made advancing in the playoffs difficult, as both teams were loaded. The Ice were a high-flying, and exciting team. We will likely see Daniil Tarasov, Blake Coleman, Alex Wideman, Will Aide, Chris Martin, Brian Ferlin, Peter Schneider, David Johnstone, Nick Mattson, Alex Barron, Tim Smith, Alexander Kuqali and Casey DeSmith move on from this squad, but there is a handful of players coming back, led by goaltender Jon Gillies, who holds the franchise record for number of consecutive scoreless minutes.

Three stars
1. Austin Czarnik (GB), game-winning goal
2. Casey DeSmith (Ice), 39 saves
3. Adam Wilcox (GB), 30 saves, 1 GA, win

Box score 

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