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USHL: Saints Fall to Indiana in Game 1 of East Finals

INDIANAPOLIS, INA pair of powerplay goals, and a pair of third period tallies propelled the Indiana Ice to a 4-1 victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals Friday night at the Pam Am Pavilion. Indiana now leads the best-of-five series 1-0, and both Jacob Pritchard and Brian Pihno had a pair of points in the win for the Ice.

Dubuque was able to draw first blood in the series less than two minutes into the first period. Robby Darrar collected a loose puck in neutral ice and raced in over the blue line. He cut to the right side and fired a backhander that found the pack of the net to make it 1-0 Dubuque. The goal was Darrars 5th goal of the post-season, and ended Indiana goaltender Jason Pawloskis shutout streak at 122:12.

Indiana was able to use the powerplay to tie the game later in the first period. Pritchard got a pass from Austin Kosack in the slot. His first shot attempt hit a skate and came right back to him. With traffic in front, the spun and fired a wrist shot that deflected over the glove of Dubuque goaltender Kevin Reich to make it 1-1 at 14:54.

After a back and forth second period, it was again Indianas powerplay that made the difference. Only 12 seconds into a late second period man advantage, Scott Conway fired a shot over Reichs glove to make it 2-1 Indiana. With Shane Eiserman off for head contact, Indianas  Pinho quickly fed a pass across to Conway on the left wing. The sniper wired a shot top corner for his first goal of the playoffs at the 18:25 mark of the second period.

In the third period, Indiana shut down Dubuque and added a pair of goals. Pihno finished a beautiful passing play for his first goal of the playoffs at 5:08. Pritchard took an up ice pass from Ryan Mantha and fired a pass across to Pihno on the backdoor. He redirected a shot past an outstretched Reich to make it 3-1 Indiana.

The Ice added one last insurance tally at 15:07. Denis Smirnov intercepted Seamus Malones clearing pass to the middle of the ice. He skated in alone on Reich and snapped a shot over the goaltenders glove to make it 4-1.

The Ice held Dubuque to just four shots in the third period and outshot the Fighting Saints 28-23 on the evening.

The two teams meet again tomorrow night for Game 2 at the Pan Am Pavilion. Puck drop is slated for 6:05 p.m. CT. Dubuque returns home to the Mystique Community Ice Center for Games 3 and 4 (if necessary) of the best-of-five series on Friday, May 2 and Saturday, May 3.
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