ROCKFORD, Ill. – The Law of Averages has begun to factor in for Rocky Thompson’s team as it looms closer to playoff hockey. While they endured both one of the league’s longest losing and winning streaks, the Wolves now find themselves second in the Central Division with all but one of their remaining games against divisional foes, including three against the Rockford IceHogs.
The Chicago Wolves traveled to BMO Harris Bank Center Friday night as they attempted to extend their three-game win streak, their last loss coming at the hands of the Rockford IceHogs 3-2 in what Rocky Thompson described as one of the worst games he’s seen his team play all season.
Though the Wolves found themselves in a 7-2 shots on goal deficit early, they quickly rebounded to end the first on top 2-0. Chicago’s points-leader T.J. Tynan found goals-leader Brandon Pirri wide open in front of Colin Delia at 10:47 of the first. Pirri then sniped the puck cross-cage to score his 27th goal of the year.
The Tomas Hyka – Beau Bennett – Teemu Pulkkinen line got in on the action shortly after, with Hyka and Bennett passing back and forth before finding an open Pulkkinen for a goal which mirrored Pirri’s earlier one. Tynan would leave the game in the first with an injury and did not return.
While Chicago roared out to the early lead, Rockford came into the second ready to do business with Lance Bouma foiling Max Lagace less than a minute into the first to halve the deficit for the home team.
After Bouma’s goal, the Wolves took two penalties back-to-back and on the second Matheson Iacopelli sniped the puck in from the blue line to tie the game at two at 8:37 of the second. Lagace did not stand a chance of making the save with all the bodies between him and Iacopelli.
Before the period was over, the teams would combine for three more goals.
Recently signed to an NHL contract for the 2018-19 season, it was only a matter of time before Tyler Sikura found his way onto the scoresheet. Seven minutes after Iacopelli’s power-play tally, Sikura found Henrik Samuelsson who put the puck five-hole on Lagace for the 3-2 lead.
Bouma then scored his second of the game when he dangled around a Wolves defender and went top shelf on Lagace, and suddenly the Wolves found themselves down 4-2 after giving up four unanswered goals.
Before the period was over, the Wolves were able to draw a faceoff violation penalty, something this team seems to specialize in. Zac Leslie launched a rocket towards the net and Pulkkinen tipped it past Delia for his second of the game. The middle frame would end with Rockford ahead 4-3.
The IceHogs gift-wrapped the ability for the Wolves to tie the game with numerous power-play chances in the third, but their penalty kill bailed them out. Lagace would be pulled for the extra attacker with two minutes on the clock, but it was Chris DiDomenico who would capitalize on the situation and give the IceHogs a 5-3 victory with his empty-net goal.
Lagace made 33 saves in the loss, while Delia made 33 for the win. The loss of Tynan triggered a 180 in Chicago’s play. For the team’s sake, hopefully his injury is not too serious.
With the loss, the Wolves have now dropped their last two games against the IceHogs, and look to bounce back Sunday evening against the Grand Rapids Griffins at 5 p.m.
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