Rosemont, Ill.---Less than 24 hours after the Chicago Wolves needed a shootout to solve a scoreless game with Charlotte, goals occurred early and often Sunday afternoon as the Wolves prevailed 6-3 before 10,731 fans at the Allstate Arena.
Forward Michael Davies delivered the first two-goal game of his professional career to set the contest’s tone while Mark Mancari posted a late empty-net tally for his seventh multiple-goal effort of the season. Tim Miller and Kevin Connauton added goals for the Wolves, who won for the ninth time in 11 games.
Chicago (30-18-1-3) pulled within 1 point of Charlotte (30-19-2-3) for the lead in the American Hockey League’s Midwest Division and the Wolves have two games in hand.
“It was an excellent weekend for the team,” said Wolves head coach Craig MacTavish. “We were tested by a good Charlotte club, but we were able to grab four points on our home ice.”
Both teams went 65 minutes without a goal during Saturday night’s riveting game, but the Wolves broke through quickly Sunday against Charlotte goaltender John Muse.
Jordan Schroeder raced down the left wing and backhanded a pass in front of the net to Davies, who redirected it home at the 2:16 mark of the first. Schroeder and Bill Sweatt earned assists.
Miller put the Wolves up 2-0 at 11:44 of the first as defensemen Mark Matheson and Adam Polasek worked the puck below the goal line. Miller fended off a Checkers defender to gain possession behind the net, wheeled to his right and stuffed the puck between the post and Muse’s left skate for his 15th goal of the season.
Charlotte cut the margin to 2-1 at 15:28 of the first as forward Justin Shugg picked up speed at the blue line, stickhandled past a Wolves defender and slipped the puck between Matt Climie’s legs. Climie got a piece of the shot, but not enough to prevent Shugg’s third goal of the season.
The Checkers pulled even at the 2:44 mark of the second period as Climie stopped Jared Staal’s snapper from the slot, but forward A.J. Jenks was waiting on the doorstep to tap in the rebound.
The Wolves didn’t take long to regain their 2-goal lead as Davies and Mancari tallied 44 seconds apart.
Sweatt’s speed got him deep into the zone, but Muse parried his shot behind the net. Davies gained control, carried back across the goal line and banked the puck off Muse for his second goal of the day. Sweatt and Schroeder earned assists again.
Moments later, defenseman Nolan Baumgartner’s cross-seam pass led Anton Rodin down the left wing. Rodin fed Mancari in the slot for a one-timer at 5:47 that became Mancari’s team-high 21st goal of the season.
Charlotte halved the margin at 13:54 of the second period as defenseman Mathieu Roy’s slapshot from the right point deflected off Justin Soryal in the circle and eluded a screened Climie.
Connauton’s slapshot at the 8:21 mark of the third period restored a 5-3 lead. Connauton’s blast from the left point had Miller, stationed in front of the crease, leaping and contorting his body to avoid the shot that wound up top-shelf.
After Charlotte had a goal disallowed with 1:14 to play, Mancari zipped in for an empty-net goal with nine seconds left.
Climie (16-7-0) posted 32 saves to earn his seventh win in his last nine starts. Muse (9-3-1) had 20 saves for the Checkers.
Al Secord, a Chicago Wolves original who contributed 49 points and 303 penalty minutes in 106 games during the franchise’s first two seasons, dropped the ceremonial first puck. Secord played 12 years in the NHL, including eight with the Blackhawks, prior to joining the Wolves.
The Wolves return to the ice at 7:30 p.m. Friday for an Illinois Lottery Cup showdown against Rockford at Allstate Arena. For ticket information, visit ChicagoWolves.com or call 1-800-THE-WOLVES.
Charlotte 1 2 0 -- 3
Chicago 2 2 2 -- 6
First Period---1, Chicago, Davies 8 (Schroeder, Sweatt), 2:16; 2, Chicago, Miller 15 (Polasek, Matheson), 11:44; 3, Charlotte, Shugg 3 (Terry, Dalpe), 15:28. Penalties---Duco, Chicago (roughing), 17:00; Soryal, Charlotte (roughing, 10-minute misconduct), 17:00.
Second Period---4, Charlotte, Jenks 2 (Staal, Dadonov), 2:44; 5, Chicago, Davies 9 (Sweatt, Schroeder), 5:03; 6, Chicago, Mancari 21 (Rodin, Baumgartner), 5:47; 7, Charlotte, Soryal 4 (Roy), 13:54. Penalties---Sauve, Chicago (interference), 9:28; Chicago (too many men on ice, served by Roussel), 15:41.
Third Period---8, Chicago, Connauton 11 (Longpre, Haydar), 8:21; 9, Chicago, Mancari 22 (Duco, Reinprecht), 19:51 en. Penalties---Dadonov, Charlotte (high-sticking), 9:42.
Shots on goal---Charlotte: 10-13-12---35; Chicago: 9-11-6—26. Power plays---Charlotte 0-2; Chicago 0-1. Goalies—Charlotte, Muse (20-25); Chicago, Climie (32-35). A---10,731. Referees---Marcus Vinnerborg and Jeff Smith. Linesmen---Al Stensland and Mathieu Chenier.