The Ice kept rolling, posting a 3-0 victory over the Des Moines Buccaneers on Friday night at the Pepsi Coliseum for their seventh straight victory.
Goaltender Jon Gillies posted his second straight shutout -- and set a club record for consecutive scoreless minutes. Gillies hasn't allowed a goal in 164:22 -- going back to the first period of a March 5 game against Green Bay. He shut out the Gamblers in the final two periods of that game, shut out Chicago 7-0 on March 11 and then made 31 saves to blank the Bucs tonight.
The Ice defense kept the lanes clear, and the Ice peppered the Buccaneer net with shots -- getting 40 on goal. They jumped out to a 2-0 lead with two goals 2:03 apart in the first period on goals from Daniil Tarasov -- his 32nd, second-best in the USHL -- and Peter Schneider.
Tarasov's goal came on a rush started up the left side by Brian Ferlin, who fired an initial shot that was blockered aside by Des Moines' Michael Shibrowski. Ferlin scooped up the rebound, looped behind the net and fed Tarasov with a goalmouth pass that was fired into a mostly-open net. Ferlin's assist extended his point streak to six consecutive games. It was Tarasov's third straight game with a point.
Schneider made it 2-0 at the 15:58 mark of the first with a tip of Ryan Obuchowski's shot from the point, deflecting it past Shibrowski for his 29th goal of the season.
Obuchowski added an empty-net goal with 1:11 to go in the game.
Des Moines launched several salvos at the net -- putting 16 shots on Gillies in the second period -- but couldn't get the puck past him. The Ice killed off all four Buc power plays. Des Moines' PK unit was also perfect on five man-advantage situations.
Will Aide also won the one fight of the night -- landing several rights before taking down Des Moines' Dan DeSalvo in a long bout late in the first period.
The two teams will have a rematch at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Pepsi Coliseum. It will be the Ice's final home game of the season.
The Ice needed the win to keep pace in the East. Both teams they're chasing -- Green Bay and Cedar Rapids -- also won on Friday. The Ice are 35-16-4 with five regular-season games left. Their 74 points remain five behind Cedar Rapids and six back of Green Bay. The Ice have clinched at least third place in the East. A top-two finish would guarantee a first-round bye. A third-place finish would guarantee home-ice advantage in the best-of-3 first round, likely against either Youngstown or Waterloo, who are currently tied for 6th with 47 points each.