Friday, April 4, 2014

Rutledge, Gamblers stop Ice 4-2

The Ice and Gamblers face off for the 3rd period of the Ice's home regular season finale at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Green Bay won 4-2.
Green Bay goaltender Jared Rutledge was stellar, making 29 saves to give a desperate Gamblers team a 4-2 victory over the Ice Friday night in front of a crowd of 6,404 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Rutledge had several point-blank saves as the Ice buzzed his net in the closing minutes, and the Gamblers potted two power play goals to seal the game.

The loss sends the Ice two points back of Waterloo in the Anderson Cup race with one game to play, as the Black Hawks beat Cedar Rapids 5-1 on Friday night. Waterloo clinches at least a share of the Anderson Cup with 91 points. The Ice have 89 and can only clinch a share with a win Saturday in Chicago and a regulation loss by Waterloo to Cedar Rapids at home.

Scott Conway continued his hot stick, scoring his 32nd goal of the season midway through the first, scoring in the slot moments after an Ice power play commenced. That goal tied the game at 1-1. Green Bay answered on Anthony Walsh's second goal of the season from the high slot in a 4-on-4 situation. Seconds later, the Gamblers took another penalty and the Ice had a 4-on-3/5-on-3, but were unable to beat Rutledge despite getting a couple of good looks. Green Bay's special teams won out -- Nick Schmaltz scored a power play goal at 5:42 of the second to make it 3-1, and after the Ice cut the lead to one again, Matthew Weis scored with the man advantage at 8:57 of the third.

Alex Talcott's ninth goal of the season cut the deficit to 3-2 with 3:02 left in the second. The PPG came as he redirected Jason Salvaggio's goalmouth pass into the net. The Ice had numerous chances, but Rutledge denied a point-blank try by Conway later in the second -- Conway also had a chance with Rutledge out of position on a loose puck, but couldn't get the puck to settle quickly enough to get a shot on net. The Ice peppered the net often late in the third, with Tyler Pham's wraparound that was stuffed at the post the best of several opportunities.

Hayden Stewart stopped 25 shots, but suffered his first loss as a member of the Ice. He is now 13-1-0 in the blue sweater. 

Link to game boxscore

6 thoughts
1. With the Ice no longer in control of their Anderson Cup destiny, it's time to look to the playoffs. A Saturday game against Chicago -- which was eliminated from postseason contention -- will be a solid game to build momentum. Cedar Rapids will face Dubuque in the East's other series, in which CR will have home ice.
2. The Ice's first-round opponent will be either Green Bay or Muskegon. Games 1 & 2 will be at Pan Am Pavilion next Friday/Saturday night, with Games 3 & 4 of the best-of-5 series on the road. Muskegon lead Green Bay by one point, and the two teams face off Saturday night in Muskegon in what is essentially a one-game playoff. Winner heads to Indy next weekend.
3. Conway scored his 12th goal in the last 11 games, and his fifth in the last two.
4. The Ice deployed an all-forward PP unit often on Friday night, which was very good at generating chances and scored the first PPG. The second goal was scored with a traditional 3F/2D alignment on the man advantage.
5. The crowd of 6,404 marked the fifth time this season the Ice have drawn at least 5,000 fans to a game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The largest was the traditional Pack the House Night on March 1 (12,100), but tonight's crowd was the second-largest for the Ice and third-largest for the USHL this season.
6. The Ice and Gamblers earned a split in their four-game season series, with the road team winning each game. Indy was 2-1-1 in those games.

Next up: The Ice travel to Chicago on Saturday night to face the Steel in the 2013-14 regular-season finale. Chicago was eliminated from postseason contention with a 3-1 loss to Muskegon.

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