Writing Chance (6)
The Chicago Wolves faced the Lake Erie Monsters at Allstate Arena. Coming into the series both teams had split the series at one game apiece. The Monsters had won three games in a row coming into the game. Meanwhile the Wolves had won six of their last 10 games. The game proved to be a real battle for both teams as soon as the puck was dropped.
The Wolves struck first when left wing Sergey Andronov found the back of the net. That put an end to Lake Erie goalie Sami Aittokallio’s shutout streak of two games. Then the Monsters regrouped and responded when left wing David van der Gulik put a wrist shot in the back of the net. Then just over a minute later Van der Gulik found the back of the net once again. Later in the first period Monsters defenseman Stefan Elliott squeezed the puck past Wolves goalie Jake Allen for another score. The Monsters scored three unanswered goals in the first period to make the score 3-1 at the first intermission.
When the second period began, Wolves defenseman Joel Edmundson scored on a beautiful backhand pass by forward Nathan Longpre. This cut the Monsters lead to one. Then four minutes later, defenseman Doug Janik scored on a slap shot from the blue line to tie the game. But toward the end of the second period the Wolves had a bad turnover in their own zone. Jake Allen was caught outside the crease and Monsters left wing Michael Schumacher shot the puck himself for an easy goal. This put the Monsters up 4-3 at the second intermission.
In the middle of the second period, Allen was hit in eye with a hockey stick by Monsters left wing Andrew Agozzino. Agozzino’s actions resulted in a double minor for high-sticking. Thankfully Allen was able to continue playing the game without missing a shift. When asked about the hit after the game Allen called it a “freak accident.” Later when asked about the thought of being pulled he said “I didn’t fear that coach would pull me and it’s my net.”
There wasn’t a whole lot of action in the beginning of the third period as it was a defensive battle early. But 14 minutes into the third Monsters right wing Guillaume Desbiens put a shot in just above Allen’s shoulder. This extended Lake Erie’s lead by two, but the Wolves still had one more rally left in them. Two minutes later Wolves center Keith Aucoin scored to cut the deficit to one. With just two minutes left in regulation right wing Michael Davies slipped the puck past Aittokallio to tie the game. In five minutes of overtime both teams couldn’t score. So the game was to going to be decided in a shootout.
The Monsters started the shootout first with center Joey Hishon and his shot was turned away by Allen. Then it was the Wolves turn to take a shot and they used right wing Michael Davies, but his shot was turned away by Aittokallio. Then van der Gulik of Lake Erie took his turn but his shot was turned aside once again by Allen.
The Wolves took their turn in round two of the shootout using their right wing and points leader Ty Rattie. Rattie was able to slip the puck past Aittokallio for the first point in the shootout. Needing a score to continue the shootout, the Monsters used center Colin Smith whose shot was again saved by Allen. In the Wolves turn in round three they decided to use center Keith Aucoin. Aucoin couldn’t capitalize on his opportunity in the shootout as the puck was covered up by Aittokallio.
Knowing very well that the Monsters still needed a goal to tie the shootout they put their faith in defenseman Stefan Elliott. But despite getting a good shot off, Allen made a diving save of the shot and turned it aside. The Wolves just needed one more goal in the shootout to take the victory in front of the home crowd. The Wolves used center Adam Cracknell in the final round of the shootout. Cracknell was able to come through for the Wolves and they won 6-5 in a shoot out.
After the game Chicago Wolves head coach John Anderson equally praised Allen for his performance behind the net. He said “He made a lot of big saves and was just excellent tonight. It was not his first rodeo.” When asked about removing Allen due to the cut on his eye Anderson said “I am not a puller. I had full confidence in him all game long. I would only pull him if he was affected mentally or he had to start the next night.” He later said “It’s not worth losing an eye for a win.” When asked about the playoff push Anderson said “Our push started in January and that the push starts early. I believe in this team and we will make it and try to get the highest seed possible.”
Despite the mistakes his teammates made during the game, Allen praised them for their performance. He said “They made up for their mistakes and it was a great performance to get us the win.” When asked about his own individual performance coming up with those big saves he simply said “It’s my job.”
With 11 games remaining until the end of the regular season the Wolves currently sit in fourth place in the Western Conference. They also are currently in the fourth seed in conference. They are just five points away from clinching a spot in the Calder Cup playoffs.
With the Chicago Wolves and Oklahoma City Barons in a four-way tie for the eighth seed in the Calder Cup Playoffs, Wednesday night’s game was a must win for the Wolves. Even more importantly they needed to win a few games as they had lost six of their last eight.
The Barons got on the board first when Anton Lander slid one past Wolves goaltender Matt Climie. It didn’t take the Wolves long to regroup as Danny Groulx found the back of the net just 23 seconds later for his fifth goal of the season. Darren Haydar then added his team-leading 18th goal with just under two minutes to play in the first.
“I need to help contribute, offensively and defensively and get on the board. I come to the rink ready to score every game,” said Wolves captain Haydar.
Much like the first period, the Barons were able to score first in the second as they tied it up four minutes into the period. Alex Plante scored the goal off of a bad turnover when Climie attempted to play the puck around the boards behind the net. The puck bounced out front and all Plante had to do was aim for the empty net. The period was a rather sloppy one with many turnovers by both teams. The Wolves had an opportunity to score when the Barons were given a penalty with six minutes remaining but the Wolves couldn’t capitalize on the chance and went into the locker room tied at 2-2.
The third was a battle between the two goalies. Barons goalie Yann Danis made several big saves including two breakaways and several odd man rushes by the Wolves. Climie also had some big time saves in the period.
With a 2-2 tie at the end of regulation, the two teams headed into a five minute sudden death overtime. With a four-on-one odd man rush the Wolves had a chance to end the game but with a sloppy turnover they weren’t able to get a good shot off.
With the teams still tied at the end of overtime, the game went to a shootout. Climie stopped five of the six Baron attempts. Niklas Jensen of the Wolves was able to secure the win with a dazzling shootout attempt that he put in the net for an easy highlight-reel goal. The Wolves were able to come away with the 3-2 win and moved themselves into the seventh-place playoff spot in the Western Conference.
“Getting one point is good, but getting the second is important. It was a good game and our speed lines matched up with theirs, and our physical lines also matched up. I was happy with our overall play,” said Wolves coach Scott Arniel.
The Wolves have 13 games remaining until they battle for the Calder Cup and two of those games come against the Barons again, which will be key games for both teams down the stretch.
Rosemont, IL--Despite building a thundering 4-0 lead halfway through the second period, the Chicago Wolves were only a couple mistakes away from breaking their four-game home win streak as they defeated the Rockford IceHogs 5-3 tonight at the Allstate Arena.
By Megan Hernbroth
It seemed all downhill after the Chicago Wolves won the opening face-off against the Abbotsford Heat on Feb. 4. The Wolves dropped to a 4-3 loss in an overtime shoot-out.
“We played really well,” Jaime Sifers, defenseman, said. “From the puck drop, we really came out strong.”
The first period started strong for the Wolves, but fell quickly with a penalty off of center Jason Krog for hooking. The Wolves played a successful penalty kill with a clear and strong shot blocking.
Following the penalty, the team kept momentum strong with aggressive offense, but defense had dwindling aggression towards the end of the period, with a few sloppy passes. Andrew Kozek redeemed the team with the opening goal at 16:45 in the first, with an assist by Fredrik Pettersson.
Andrew Zubarev kept the defense playing strong with a slide block, but had a hard time getting off the ice following a stoppage of play. The Wolves closed out the first period ahead by one and with 11 shots on goal.
“The turning point [of the game] was when we took the lead,” Sifers said.
The second period opened with the Wolves on a penalty kill, Mannino strong in the crease. Offense did not disappoint, with forward Tim Miller checking strongly against the Heat. Jon Rheault of the Heat scored, but was followed closely by a verbal altercation between teams. They remained hostile for the remainder of the game, with shouts and fight attempts after many stoppages of play.
The Wolves emerged again victorious on a penalty kill, followed closely by a strong shot on goal. They were rewarded a power play after a Heat penalty, with all scoring attempts consisting of far slapshots. The power play ended with no score, but the team was given a second chance with another power play, but wasted the two minutes with passing. The period ended on a power play, a missed opportunity of a breakaway chance by right wing Spencer Machacek.
Starting the third period, the Wolves were seeing red as the tension on ice grew with a lot of verbal back and forth exchanges. Darren Haydar scored a 1-on-2 goal, assisted by Andre Deveaux, bringing the Wolves back up in front.
The Heat responded with a short poke-in goal by Stefan Meyer, assisted by Quintin Laing and T.J. Brodie. Playing keep away, the Wolves wasted another power play, but had a few wide shots on goal. Meyer scored for the Heat again quickly, to moans of the crowd.
Haydar responded with yet another goal, with a shot off the post after some deliberation of the officials. The third period ended with a tied score, 3-3, driving the Wolves into overtime.
The Heat began the five-minute period with a power play, turning into a five on three situation for the Heat after more Chicago penalties. The Wolves spent most of the period killing penalties, leading the game into a shootout.
Mannino kicked out the first Abbotsford shot, and Leland Irving saved the retaliating Chicago attempt by Kozek. Nigel Dawes is the first to find the back of the net, but Matt Keith of Abbotsford responded with a successful shot. Greg Nemisz of Abbotsford also proved successful, ending the game with a quick shot on goal finding the back of the net.
“We really tried to make it hard for their defense,” Sifers said. “We had a lot of strong shifts, and it was nice to see.”
When asked about the hostility between teams, Sifers was glad the aggression did not escalade.
“There wasn’t too much after the whistles,” Sifers said. “No one wants the bad penalties, so we kept to ourselves.”
Grand Rapids Griffins 7 Chicago Wolves 5
By: Nick Kapetan
If any game symbolized perfectly how important it is to get out of the gate quickly, this contest was it. Right from the start the Wolves’ defenders appeared flat, losing the puck in the neutral zone constantly. All season long the Wolves’ defense has been an issue, but usually the offense picks up the slack. This was not the case as the Grand Rapids Griffins tallied five unanswered goals.
“We did not come out ready to play” proclaimed Coach Don Lever. “There was no bite or urgency on either side of the puck.”
After the first period the Wolves were down four goals which resulted in goalie Drew MacIntyre being benched. Two of the goals MacIntyre allowed were off of rebounds directed right in front of the net. Once Peter Mannino took over between the pipes, the fast pace offense of the Griffins began to subside. The Wolves eventually got on the scoreboard with a goal by the birthday boy, Nigel Dawes, his twenty sixth of the season.
Entering the third period the Wolves were still at a four point disadvantage. As the final frame began to unfold, a new found momentum was evident in the Wolves. The team began to create more shots, and capitalized on them. Goals by Riley Holzapfel (6th) and Andrew Kozek (8th) instilled a fresh energy in the home team. However, the slow start by the Wolves came back to bite them. Chicago scored two more times, Ryan Garbutt (13th) and Darren Haydar (19th) but still came up short. The Griffins found the back of the net twice after the Wolves’ run, which resulted in seven total goals.
“We had a tough hole to dig out of” explained Center Ryan Garbutt. “We stayed positive but we still did not have enough offensive fire power.”
With only six points separating the top seven teams in the West Division, the Wolves know that these are must win games. The loss proved to the team, once again, that they must play sixty minutes of hockey every night if they want to shrink the gap, and make a postseason run.