The hits kept on coming---at center ice, along the boards, during every play and after almost every whistle. In the end the rough play did not matter as the Indiana Ice closed out their first-round Clark Cup series against the Waterloo Black Hawks with a 6-3 victory Friday evening on the St. Vincent Sports Rink at the Pepsi Coliseum.
While Waterloo put up a better fight after being blanked 4-0 Thursday evening, the Ice will advance to a second round match-up against the second-seed Green Bay Gamblers.
The familiar suspects led the Indy attack. The trio of Blake Coleman, Daniil Tarasov and Brian Ferlin combined for two goals and six assists, but the hosts got support from all the lines in the two-game sweep.
Dan Cesarz scored for the second straight night to support the attack. Sean Kuraly, David Johnstone, and Alex Barron also lit the lamp. Barron, a stay at home defenseman, scored his first goal in an Indiana sweater.
"It was really Ferlin who set me up," commented Barron. "I knew where Brian would go with the puck and knew where to be. I just directed it in."
The visitors tried to pound Indy into submission but the Ice scored a pair of goals all three periods as they sent the six-seeded Black Hawks home and again were supported by a strong effort in goal by Casey DeSmith.
Waterloo was whistled twice both for slashing and roughing---once each for roughing, elbowing, cross checking, unsportsmanlike conduct, and fighting---and one player was given a game misconduct.
"It was simple to stay away from the "chippy" stuff. We had the lead," stated Coleman as they begin preparation for the Gamblers. "It was a team effort from all four lines. Casey is a wall back there too."
Indiana scored a pair of power play goals in the middle period to take control of the contest with the visitors serving a five-minute major for fighting. Coleman scored the first with the man advantage after he rammed home a loose puck in the crease of Black Hawk goalie Jay Williams.
Williams came on in relief of starting netminder C.J. Motte and faired no better when Coleman scored his second goal of the series with assists from Tarasov and Ferlin at the 13:34 mark of the period.
Johnstone took a scoring pass from the low circle and whistled a long wrist shot from near the blue line to increase the host's lead to 4-1 with 5:10 remaining in the second frame. Kuraly and Alex Wideman picked up points by assisting on the Johnstone goal.
Waterloo sandwiched a pair of goals around the power play scores but still trailed 4-2 heading to the final 20 minutes.
Cesarz put home a long rebound of an Adam Erne shot to balloon the lead to 5-2 at 2:24 of the third period. Will Aide got into the books with an assist on the play.
After the visitors cut the margin to 5-3 with 6:26 remaining in the game, Tarasov collaborated with Coleman and Ferlin on the game's final goal with less than five minutes remaining.
The Black Hawks came out hitting everything in sight in the first period. Indy matched the physical play and eventually launched a one-two punch in the final 3:08 of the period.
Kuraly put home the rebound of a Peter Schneider shot at 16:52 of the opening stanza with Chris Martin assisting on the game's first score.
The hosts skated to the first intermission with a 2-0 lead after Barron put a bullet past Motte 1:32 before the break. Ferlin found Barron streaking low and fed Barron with a cross-ice pass.
"It is going to be a battle with Green Bay," previewed Coleman. "They are a tough team, play very physical, and a great team at home."
The Ice head to Green Bay for games one and two this Wednesday (4/20) and Friday (4/22), before returning home next Saturday (4/23) for game three at 7:05 pm from Pepsi Coliseum. Game four if necessary will be Monday (4/25) at Pepsi Coliseum, while game five if necessary will be a week from Wednesday (4/27) in Green Bay.