ROSEMONT, IL – The Chicago Wolves dropped their rematch against the Milwaukee Admirals Sunday night by a score of 3-2 at home in the Allstate Arena. Though Paul Thompson’s second period tally stopped the Wolves’ scoreless power play streak at 23, it was not enough to catapult Chicago to a win over its division foes.
While the first period was marked by seven penalties between the two teams, neither was able to capitalize on their turn on the man-advantage. As the horn sounded signaling the conclusion of the first 20 minutes of play, Trevor Murphy and Mackenzie MacEachern dropped the gloves. Both were given five for this knock-down drag-out fight, which was sparked after the two exchanged cross-checks.
Pontius Aberg quickly broke the scoreless tie as the second began, beating Chicago goaltender C.J. Motte 41 seconds into the period on the power play. Aberg’s goal was the only one given up by the league-leading Chicago penalty kill, which went 3-for-4 on the night.
Thompson matched Aberg’s power-play goal with a tally of his own a few minutes later to knot the score at one. Aberg, however, would score his second of the night 1:54 later on a breakaway chance as his stickhandling proved too much for Motte.
Brandon Pirri then notched his second goal of the weekend 46 seconds later as his wristed the feed from Teemu Pulkkinen past Anders Lindback. Pirri’s goal marked the third tally between the two teams in a span of 2:40 in the second.
The Milwaukee Admirals closed out a five-goal second period on a Peter Granberg goal, and it l would stand as the game-winner. Chicago pulled Motte for the extra man with a little over two minutes to play, but could not get the tying goal.
Much of Sunday’s game appeared to mirror Saturday’s, according to Rocky Thompson.
“It was very similar. Very much so. We had a lot of good opportunities, I felt maybe yesterday we carried the pace of the game more, with more control. Today, it was, I thought, pretty even but a really good game. I really liked the way our forecheck was. We were able to generate a lot of opportunities, so that’s a positive thing, we’ve just got to start scoring on those.”
On a more positive note, Chicago’s play against Milwaukee Sunday was a huge step up from Wednesday’s game, and the power play finally broke its drought. Coach Thompson still was not satisfied with this part of the special teams, however.
“I think our power play does continue to have to be better even though we had good looks. We had opportunities to score on the first power play and we didn’t execute, didn’t hit the shot. Or a few times we chose to pass instead of shoot, and I think when you start having that mindset and execution rises a little bit that’ll swing the tides in our favor.”
Paul Thompson had mentioned Thursday that as long as he keeps shooting, he would finally break his scoring rut. Sunday, he did just that.
“That one felt good. I feel like we then, especially our line there, we’ve been working hard, getting a lot of chances, lots of pucks to the net. Sometimes, it’s just waiting for that bounce to kind of happen. Obviously wish it came in a win, but hopefully it’ll propel us to start getting some of those bounces and keep trying to earn those bounces and play the right way and hopefully we’ll get rewarded.”
In order for Chicago to finally walk away with a win, they need to improve special teams play. The power play needs to convert better than once every 24 chances, or more than the 1-for-6 tonight, while the team also needs to stop relying on the penalty kill so much. The Wolves need to tighten up play and not take so many penalties because each one is two minutes you are at a disadvantage.
Sunday was a significant improvement at the faceoff dot over previous games, and a specific player stood out for Coach Thompson from the rest.
“(Wade) Megan played really well in the faceoff circle, he had a good game. He was strong. It led to a lot of possession early in the game, particularly, with our power play too.”
The Chicago Wolves look to snap their three-game losing streak Wednesday at the Manitoba Moose with a 7 p.m. scheduled puck drop. As always, you can follow @SinBinWolves on Twitter for live coverage of the game and general team updates.