ROSEMONT, IL – The Chicago Wolves’ power play woes continued as they dropped their first meeting of the season against the Manitoba Moose by a score of 3-1 Wednesday afternoon at the Allstate Arena. Ivan Barbashev’s first goal with Chicago came too little, too late, for momentum to swing back in Chicago’s favor. Wednesday also marked Kasimir Kaskisuo’s debut in the Wolves’ crease.
Chicago jumped out to an early advantage in shots during the first period, registering six shots on goal before allowing Manitoba’s first at 7:04. However, defensemen Chris Casto went down with an injury and had to be helped off the ice. Casto has been an important defenseman for the Wolves so far this season, and his absence was evident the rest of the game.
“We had a really good first period, and then after that injury, our game fell off,” said Rocky Thompson.
Shea Theodore further explained just how much the loss of Casto meant.
“It impacted a lot, obviously, when you shorten the bench like that. Guys are playing more minutes. As soon as you get hemmed in your own end, you definitely get more tired, and it’s definitely harder to recover.”
Manitoba would take advantage of the momentum swing as Jack Roslovic scored on a tic-tac-toe from Michael Spacek and Chase De Leo, which caught Kaskisuo out of position with 1:49 remaining in the first.
The Moose built further upon their lead in the second on goals from Buddy Robinson and Patrice Cormier, at 12:32 and 16:21, respectively. Cormier’s tally would hold as the only power-play goal during a game which featured 11 total penalties.
Barbashev’s late third-period tally also drew a power play for Chicago with 1:15 to play, coming five seconds after Rocky Thompson used his timeout. However, even with the man-advantage, Manitoba’s 3-1 lead would hold.
Eric Comrie made 36 of 37 saves in goal for the Manitoba Moose.
Player losses and power play failings proved fatal to Chicago.
With the loss of Beau Bennett to St. Louis and Brandon Pirri to injury (day-to-day), Chicago really struggled at the faceoff dot. As a result of these losses, Rocky Thompson had his wingers play differently at the puck drop.
“Well we want them to be more aggressive to jump the losses so they can anticipate it a little bit. Yeah, that’s something that we’re aware of.”
Chicago went 0-for-7 on the power play. Returning the power play back to its early success is foremost on Rocky Thompson’s mind.
“Our power play let us down. It really served as a momentum boost for the other team and was a big lag on our own team. That was a big reason why we lost this game today is our power play was not good at all… Tomorrow we’re going to go over things. I was very disappointed after the game, and I let the team know that I was disappointed. We’re definitely gonna look at our power play, we’re going to work on those things. We’re going to be better moving forward.”
“I felt like we got a lot of pucks through that we just didn’t get sticks on or didn’t get the right bounces off the goalie, but that’s just something we have to keep working on and we’ll get better at it.”
After being loaned to Chicago by the Toronto Marlies Monday, Kaskisuo made 23 saves. Neither Thompson nor Theodore placed any blame on him for the loss.
“I thought he played well. I didn’t think we gave up too many opportunities and he was big when we needed him to make some big saves for us, so that wasn’t the issue with us today by any stretch,” said Thompson
“He played great. None of the goals are his fault. We have to play better in front of him, defensively, that’s kind of our job,” echoed Theodore.
The Chicago Wolves next play in Grand Rapids Friday, October 27 as they take on the defending Calder Cup Champion Grand Rapids Griffins. Puck drop is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday’s game marks game four of a 5-in-8 stretch for Chicago.