Friday, April 11, 2014

Newell's stick, Stewart's saves lead Ice to Game 1 win

Patrick Newell scored two goals, and Hayden Stewart had a 22-save shutout as the Indiana Ice won Game 1 of their USHL Eastern Conference semifinal series over the Green Bay Gamblers by a 2-0 score.

Both of Newell's goals came from right in front of the net on Green Bay goaltender Jared Rutledge, in a second period dominated by the Ice.

Stewart was solid much of the night -- as was an Ice defense that allowed few scoring chances, especially in the opening two periods -- and spectacular when needed.

The two teams felt each other out through a scoreless first, in which Green Bay outshot the Ice 7-6. The Ice seized momentum after killing off their second penalty of the night early in the second. Within a minute of Josh Jacobs coming out of the box, Scott Conway put a pass from the corner onto Newell's tape, and Newell buried the shot at 7:24 of the second. The Ice continued to press the momentum and controlled play for much of the rest of the second period, drawing another Green Bay penalty on Anthony Walsh. Again, the power play came up empty, but the Ice scored in the ensuing minute. This time, Alex Talcott was able to feed Newell -- who had come off the bench for a chance. Newell had a hair of room to get the puck between Rutledge and the post he was trying to seal off, and managed to squeeze it into that small area.

Conway and Dwyer Tschantz had the assists on the first goal. Talcott and Tyler Pham had the assists on the second.

Green Bay had the better of the chances in the third, but Stewart was strong -- stopping a couple of heavily-screened point shots -- and impressive. Danny Tironese had a shorthanded breakaway from center ice early in the period, but Stewart stayed with him and was able to make a left pad save to deny the threat.

3 stars
3. Alex Talcott (Ice), assist on Newell's second goal
2. Patrick Newell (Ice), 2 goals
1. Hayden Stewart (Ice), 22 saves, shutout

Boxscore game story

Nine takeaways
1. The Ice are happy to turn fortunes -- the road team won all four regular-season meetings.
2. Indiana University men's basketball coach Tom Crean was in attendance and spoke to the Ice team after the game.
3. Stewart returned to his midseason form, getting the start after allowing four goals to Green Bay a week ago. This time, he shut the door. Stewart has allowed more than two goals only twice since joining the Ice, and had four regular-season shutouts. Stewart and running mate Jason Pawloski - the reigning USHL Goaltender of the Week - have combined for eight. Coach Jeff Brown has two very solid options in net this playoff year.
4. Stewart's shutout was the first playoff shutout for an Ice goaltender since Casey DeSmith blanked Waterloo on April 14, 2011 -- the first game of that run.
5. The Ice and Gamblers are no strangers to each other in the playoffs. This is their sixth meeting in the last seven years. The Ice won the 2009 series en route to the Clark Cup.
6. It's always interesting to see who steps up in the postseason. Newell was second on the team with 30 assists, mostly in setting up linemates Scott Conway and Dwyer Tschantz.
7. Aidan Muir likely had the best scoring chance that didn't go, a partial breakaway midway through the third that went wide.
8. Denis Smirnov returned to action after missing the last 11 games of the regular season due to injury. He skated on a line with Tyler Pham and Sam Kurker, and tied Newell with a team-high three shots.
9. Austin Kosack led the USHL in +/- with a +40 rating this season. The defenseman was a +2 tonight.
10. The Ice killed off two first-period Green Bay power plays, and did not commit a penalty the rest of the game. The Ice were 0-for-3 with the man advantage. 

Game 2 of the best-of-5 series will be Saturday night at Pan Am Pavilion. The puck drops at 7:05 p.m.

USHL scoreboard
(1) Indiana 2, (4) Green Bay 0 (Indiana leads 1-0)(3) Dubuque 2, (2) Cedar Rapids 1 (Dubuque leads 1-0)
(1) Waterloo 7, (4) Sioux Falls 4 (Waterloo leads 1-0)
(2) Omaha vs (3) Sioux City begins Saturday

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