The Aeros' Ryan Hamilton recorded the game's first shot on goal at the 3:26 mark of the opening period, but the IceHogs quickly turned the tide. Aeros' center Serge Payer took a tripping penalty at the 8:29 mark, giving Rockford the first power play. Rockford had a couple chances in the power play, but Aeros' goaltender Nolan Schaefer kept the IceHogs off the scoreboard.
At about two minutes into the second period, Rockford got on the board when Gavin Morgan netted an even strength goal. Kris Versteeg and Jack Skille earned the assists. Later in the period, Houston tied the game on a Hamilton goal at 8:26 with Joel Ward and Brandon Rogers assisting.
In the final period, the IceHogs went ahead for good on a Troy Brouwer gaol at 8:22. Martin St. Pierre earned his first of two points on the night with the first assist and Versteeg tallied his second helper of the game. Houston pulled Schaefer for the extra attacker with over a minute left in the game but Rockford netted the puck again with only two seconds remaining.
St. Pierre scored the final goal off a late pass deep in the Aeros' zone from Jake Dowell. Although the Aeros outshot the IceHogs during the first two periods, Rockford outshot the Aeros 12-3 in the final frame and 27-19 overall.
Saturday's Game 2 can be heard on 1070-AM KNTH or online at AEROS.com.
The teams will play Games 3, 4 and 5 in Houston starting on Tuesday and tickets are on sale now. For more information, call 713-974-PUCK.
Houston Aeros vs. Rockford IceHogs
First round playoff schedule
Friday: Rockford 3, Aeros 1
Saturday: at Rockford MetroCentre, Rockford, Ill., 7:05pm
Tuesday: at Toyota Center, Houston, 7:05pm
Thursday: at Toyota Center, Houston, 7:05pm
*April 25: at Toyota Center, Houston, 7:35pm
*April 27: at Rockford MetroCentre, Rockford, Ill., 7:05pm
*April 28: at Rockford MetroCentre, Rockford, Ill., 7:05pm
* if necessary