The Rockford IceHogs quest for a second title in two different leagues in as many seasons came to an end Thursday night following a 4-1 loss to the Chicago Wolves in Game 7 of the West Division Final.
After returning to Rockford down 2-0 in the series, the IceHogs won Games 3, 4 and 5 before dropping Game 6 in Rockford and Game 7 in Chicago.
"We should have been a little stronger there (in Rockford) and try to put them away when we had the chance," IceHog defenseman Ryan Stokes said.
Jesse Schultz put the Wolves on the board first with a power play goal at 18:27. The ordinal shot made its way past Rockford goaltender Corey Crawford and bounced off the end boards onto Schultz' stick. Krog scored his fourth of the series at 7:23 of the second; the goal would turn out to be the eventual game-winning goal, Krog's second in two games.
"I give them credit. Their power play came through in the last two games and won them the series," Rockford coach Mike Haviland said.
Bryan Bickell's shot went past Wolves goaltender Ondrej Pavelec but hit the post during the IceHogs first power of the game early in the second. Later that period, an IceHogs goal was waved off when it
crossed the line after the whistle.
Chicago wasn't done as Bryan Little scored the third Wolves goal of the game at 8:37 of the third to put the Wolves up 3-0.
Kris Versteeg put the IceHogs on the board with his sixth goal of the playoffs and only Rockford goal of the game at 13:22.
Crawford was pulled for a sixth attacker with just over two minutes to remaining. An empty-net goal by Colin Stuart at 18:36 put the Wolves up 4-1.
"I'm proud of the guys. We didn't give up, we kept going after them. I thought we had a pretty good game tonight. I wish we would have shot the puck a little bit more in the second. But we didn't leave anything and we came here to play," Haviland said.
"We're a really young team and I think we've come a long way, especially from the start of the year," Versteeg said.
The Wolves were near perfect on the power play at 2-for-3 and its penalty kill was a perfect 1-for-1.
Pavelec made 38 saves; Crawford made 19.
*Rockford IceHog Jordan Hendry made his return to the Rockford lineup for the first time in the postseason. "I felt pretty good. I've been trying to work into practices over the last week and I've been feeling pretty good," Hendry said."It was a good opportunity for me to come back in a Game 7 and prove that I can play even if it wasn't for this year, then maybe for next year, that I could bounce back from injury."