Monday, April 7, 2014

Playoff preview: Ice vs. Green Bay

The regular season has ended: time to take a peek ahead to the 2014 USHL Playoffs, as the Ice make their return after a one-year absence. It's the team's eighth playoff appearance in its 10-year history.

As regular-season champions of the Eastern Conference, they'll have the top seed through the first round (and if they win, the second), and therefore home ice advantage in the best-of-5 series.

The matchup
Indiana Ice vs. Green Bay Gamblers
Game schedule
Game 1: April 11 at Pan Am Pavilion, 7:05 p.m.
Game 2: April 12 at Pan Am Pavilion, 7:05 p.m.
Game 3: April 17 at Green Bay Resch Center, 8:05 p.m.
Game 4: April 18 at Green Bay Resch Center, 8:05 p.m.
Game 5: April 21 at Pan Am Pavilion, 7:05 p.m.

Previous meetings
April 4: Green Bay 4, Indiana 2 (at Bankers Life Fieldhouse). A huge crowd of 6,404 saw the Gamblers take an early lead and not let up in a 4-2 victory. Special teams were critical -- both teams scored two power play goals, and Green Bay added a 4-on-4 goal. A Green Bay team that was desperate for a playoff bid was able to ride a solid goaltending performance by Jared Rutledge and get goals from Ryan Siroky, Anthony Walsh, Nick Schmaltz and Matthew Weis. Scott Conway and Alex Talcott scored for the Ice. Rutledge stopped 29 shots, Ice goaltender Hayden Stewart made 21 saves.

March 15: Indiana 2, Green Bay 0 (at Green Bay). Green Bay threw the kitchen sink at the Ice, with 21 third-period shots on goal. Jason Pawloski stopped them all -- as well as the other 11 he faced -- for the shutout. Alex Talcott and Dwyer Tschantz scored second-period goals for the Ice. Jared Rutledge made 22 saves for the Gamblers.  
March 14: Indiana 5, Green Bay 2 (at Green Bay). The Gamblers took an early lead on Nick Schmaltz's first-period goal, but the Ice seized the lead with two second-period goals by Tyler Pham and Matt Roy. Scott Conway scored the game-winner, breaking a 2-all tie on the PP with 7:27 left. Jacob Pritchard added two goals, the latter an empty-netter, in the final three minutes. Brian Pinho had four assists. Pritchard (2G) and Aidan Muir (2A) had two-point games. Hayden Stewart (18 saves) outdueled the Gamblers' Cam Hackett (24 saves) in net. 

Dec. 5: Green Bay 4, Indiana 3, OT (at Pan Am Pavilion). A back-and-forth game where the Ice rescued a point with Alex Talcott's goal with 1:38 left, but Green Bay's Matthew Weis controversially ended the game with a power play goal in OT that appeared to come after the net was knocked off (a similar Ice goal was disallowed in the third period). Jacob Pritchard scored a first-period goal for the Ice, and Patrick Newell scored 14 seconds into the third. Junior Gates, Ryan Lough (2) and Weis scored for Green Bay. The Ice outshot Green Bay 35-19, but Gamblers goaltender Jared Rutledge made 32 saves. Samu Perhonen - who is no longer with the team - had 15 saves for the Ice.
Head to head
Power play
GB 3-17 (17.6%), IND 4-22 (18.2%)

Goals by period
GB 3-3-3-1 -- 10
IND 2-5-5-0 -- 12

Shots on goal
GB 23-32-39-2 -- 96
IND 35-42-36-6 -- 119
Ice leaders: Alex Talcott (3-2-5, +3), Jacob Pritchard (3-2-5, +3), Brian Pinho (0-5-5, +2), Scott Conway (2-1-3, -2), Patrick Newell (1-2-3, +1), Aidan Muir (0-3-3, +3).
Active goaltenders: Hayden Stewart (1-1-0, 3.05, .867); Jason Pawloski (1-0-0, 0.00, 1.000)
Gamblers leaders: Ryan Lough (3-1-4, +1), Matthew Weis (2-2-4, E), Jordan Gross (0-4-4, +1), Drew Best (0-4-4, +1), Nick Schmaltz (2-1-3, +1), Connor Hurley (0-3-3, +1)
Active goaltenders: Jared Rutledge (2-1-0, 2.29, .922); Cam Hackett (0-1-0, 4.11, .857)

Indiana Ice (42-11-7, 1st USHL East)
Home: 21-5-4; Road: 21-6-3
Last 10: 8-2-0
Goals per game: 3.88 for (3rd USHL)/2.35 against (t1st USHL)
Power play: 18.6% (53-285) (8th USHL)/Penalty kill: 85.7% (233-272) (3rd USHL)
Top scorers: Scott Conway (33-35-68, +40); Brian Pinho (28-28-56, +29); Dwyer Tschantz (24-20-44, +31), Patrick Newell (13-30-43, +24)
Goaltenders: Hayden Stewart (14GP, 13-1-0, 1.29, .945, 4SHO); Jason Pawloski (42GP, 27-8-6, 2.46, .904, 4SHO)

Green Bay Gamblers (30-24-6, 4th USHL East)
Home: 18-10-2; Road: 12-14-4 
Last 10: 5-5-0
Goals per game: 3.05 for (10th USHL)/2.93 against (6th USHL)
Power play: 19.1% (47-246) (6th USHL)/Penalty kill: 85.3% (215-252) (5th USHL) 
Top scorers: Nick Schmaltz (18-45-63, -3), Matthew Weis (23-34-57, -2), Ryan Lough (19-23-42, +15), Evan Tironese (10-28-38, +2), Connor Hurley (10-26-36, -1)
Goaltenders: Jared Rutledge (45GP, 25-16-4, 2.77, .907, 2 SHO), Cam Hackett (18GP, 5-8-2, 2.59, .908).

Beyond this series: the USHL playoffs
Eastern Conference: (1) Indiana vs. (4) Green Bay; (2) Cedar Rapids vs. (3) Dubuque
Western Conference: (1) Waterloo vs. (4) Sioux Falls; (2) Omaha vs. (3) Sioux City

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