The Indiana Ice did what they had to do in their first two games of their best-of-five Eastern Conference final match up with the Dubuque Fighting Saints. Sam Kurker sandwiched a pair of goals between Denis \ Smirnov’s third goal of the Clark Cup Playoffs in a 3-2 victory over the Saints. The victory sends the series back to Iowa with Indiana holding a 2-0 series lead against the defending champions.
Kurker’s second goal became the game-winner as the Fighting Saints made it a nail-biter when they cut Indy’s 3-1 lead to a single goal with their goaltender, Kevin Reich, pulled in lieu of an extra skater at 17:39 of the third period.
Dubuque skated the final 24 seconds with a 5-on-3 advantage as the Ice where whistled for a penalty at 19:36 and the Fighting Saints again pulled their netminder. Indiana goaltender Jason Pawloski shut the door to earn his fourth playoff win in net.
“Smirnov sent it towards the net and eventually it ended up sitting on the pad of Reich,” commented Kurker after Scott Conway and Matt Roy assisted. “I just kept poking away at it.”
“It feels good to be on this great team,” Kurker said after being acquired by Indiana mid-season. “Tonight the bounces went both ways but ended up well for us.”
The 6’-3” forward scored his first of the evening 8:06 after the opening puck drop. Kurker buried a rebound past the glove side of Reich off a rebound of Austin Kosack’s shot on net. Michael Preston also earned a point with an assist.
Smirnov gave the hosts a 2-0 lead at 11:37 of the second period when he stick handled through the slot and beat Reich. Conway was credited with his first of his two helpers on the evening.
“I am glad to be back after missing 10 games with an injury,” said the Russian forward. “I tried to stay in shape so I could handle the slashing and hitting in the slot.”
The visitors failed to score skating at even strength, but did cut the lead to 2-1 with a power play goal with 1:12 remaining in the middle stanza before Kurker’s second of the evening set the stage for the frantic final minutes.
Story courtesy of: Indiana Ice