The Chicago Wolves needed less than one 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 half to power Wolves to a 6-2 win over Rockford in the opener of their Central Division semi-final series on Thursday.
Game 2 will take place Saturday night in Rosemont.
Stelio Mattheos, Jack Drurry and david gust scored in the second period to open the game, and Noesen, who scored a league-leading 48 goals during the regular season, finished with two goals and an assist in his first playoff game since the playoffs of the 2018 Stanley Cup with New Jersey.
Alexander Lyons made 18 saves for Wolves, who held a 38-20 advantage on penalties.
Lucas Reichel and Evan Barratt scored for the IceHogs.
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 on Thursday. Cale Morris (10 saves) made his AHL playoff debut as a relief.
Central Division Semi-Finals – “L” Series (best-of-5)
C1-Chicago Wolves vs. C4-Rockford IceHogs
Game 1 – Thursday, May 12 – CHICAGO 6, Rockford 2
Game 2 – Saturday, May 14 – Rockford at Chicago, 8:00 a.m.
Game 3 – Sunday, May 15 – Chicago at Rockford, 5:00 a.m.
*Game 4 – Tuesday, May 17 – Chicago at Rockford, 8:00 a.m.
*Game 5 – Thursday, May 19 – Rockford at Chicago, 8:00 a.m.
*if needed…All Eastern times