The Chicago Wolves needed less than a period to shake off the rust from a 13-day layoff.
Cavan Fitzgerald and Stefan Noesen scored 46 seconds apart in the final minute of the first period, propeling the Wolves to a 6-2 win over Rockford in Game 1 of their Central Division semifinal series on Thursday.
Game 2 is Saturday evening in Rosemont.
Stelio Mattheos, Jack Drury and David Gust scored in the second period to break the game open, and Noesen, who scored a league-leading 48 goals during the regular season, finished with two goals and an assist in his first postseason game since the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs with New Jersey.
Alex Lyon made 18 saves for the Wolves, who held a 38-20 advantage in shots on goal.
After stopping 69 of 70 shots in Rockford’s first-round sweep of Texas, Arvid Soderblom allowed five goals on 27 shots in two periods of work Thursday. Cale Morris (10 saves) made his AHL playoff debut in relief.
Central Division Semifinals – Series “L” (best-of-5)
C1-Chicago Wolves vs. C4-Rockford IceHogs
Game 1 – Thu., May 12 – CHICAGO 6, Rockford 2
Game 2 – Sat., May 14 – Rockford at Chicago, 8:00
Game 3 – Sun., May 15 – Chicago at Rockford, 5:00
*Game 4 – Tue., May 17 – Chicago at Rockford, 8:00
*Game 5 – Thu., May 19 – Rockford at Chicago, 8:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern