Saturday, April 9, 2011

Ice finish on high note

The Ice finished off a near-sweep of the Muskegon Lumberjacks with a 6-1 victory tonight at the L.C. Walker Arena. It gave the Ice a 37-19-4 record to close the regular season -- including a 6-0-1 mark against Muskegon.

Daniil Tarasov's goal with 13 seconds left in the opening period started things, but the barrage started from there. Blake Coleman and Sean Kuraly scored twice each -- once each in the second and third periods -- and Peter Schneider scored a second-period goal. Brian Ferlin had four assists and Coleman added an assist for a three-point night. The Ice held a 47-25 shot advantage, as Casey DeSmith made 24 saves for his 22nd win in net on the year. The game got a bit testy in the second period, as the Ice's Jarrod Rabey and Muskegon's Carter Foguth had a third-period scrap, and then Ice PIM leader Will Aide and USHL PIM leader Micki Mihailovich got tied up a couple of minutes later. There were also three sets of coincidental minors called during that period.

The Ice now head to the playoffs, where they will face the Waterloo Black Hawks in a best-of-3 series starting Thursday night at the Pepsi Coliseum. Should the Ice win, they'll face second-place Green Bay in a best-of-5, which would be a matchup of the last two Clark Cup champions.

Coleman's three-point night capped off a runaway USHL scoring title with 92 points (34-58), but his entire line finished 1-2-3. Tarasov finished second in the scoring race with 37-38-75 and Ferlin's four-point night put him in third with 25-48-73 points. Coleman also leads the USHL with a +52 plus/minus rating and with 58 assists. Tarasov won the goal-scoring crown by one tally over Dubuque's John Gaudreau, who was scoreless tonight. Nick Mattson and Alex Barron were tops among USHL defensemen in plus/minus with +33 and +24, respectively. Mattson was second to Sioux City's Jordan Schmaltz in defenseman scoring with 36 points. The Ice were the highest-scoring team in the USHL this season with 237 goals -- 25 more than Cedar Rapids. At 21.7%, the Ice had the league's most potent power play.

The Ice set numerous team records this year. The record of 37-19-4 was third-best in franchise history, behind the 2008 team that went 39-15-6 and the 2009 Clark Cup champs that went 39-19-2. They tied the team record with a seven-game winning streak in March, and shattered a mark with a nine-game road winning streak that spanned from Nov. 26-Jan. 28. The Ice also set team records for shutouts in a season (6 ... Gillies & DeSmith with 3 each), best road record (18-10-2) and best OT record (6-1). With hat tricks against Waterloo and Chicago earlier this year, Ferlin and Tarasov tied the single-game goal scoring record. On Jan. 2, Coleman had a five-assist game against Waterloo, setting a team record for most assists in a game and tying a team mark for most points in a game. Tarasov (Jan. 15 vs. Tri-City), Ferlin and Coleman (both March 11 vs. Chicago) also tied the single-game mark with five-point games.

Coleman's 98 points and Tarasov's 37 goals set records for scoring. The team's 237 goals also set a record. Matter of fact, the Coleman-Tarasov-Ferlin line now holds the top three spots for Ice single-season scoring. The previous mark was John Kemp's 72 points in 2007-08. Tarasov's goal-scoring record beats Paul Carey's standard of 34 goals set in 2007-08. Coleman finished one assist shy of breaking Kemp's mark for assists in a season. Kemp had 59 in that 2007-08 year. Casey DeSmith's 2.54 goals against average is also a team-best for a single season, beating Cab Morris' mark of 2.57 set last year.

The 37-19-4 mark moves Charlie Skjodt into the top spot amongst Ice coaches in career wins. He now has a 76-34-10 mark in two full regular seasons with the Ice.

Tonight's 3 stars
1. Brian Ferlin - Ice (4 assists)
2. Blake Coleman - Ice (2 goals, assist)
3. Sean Kuraly - Ice (2 goals)
Game boxscore

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