GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Two players recorded two-goal nights as the Chicago Wolves handily downed the defending champion Grand Rapids Griffins 5-2 at Van Andel Arena Wednesday night.
The offense was fueled by a 3-for-4 power play conversion rate as the league’s 19th-ranked power play continued its upward climb.
Beau Bennett kicked things off for the power play at 7:25 of the first scoring just 35 seconds into the man advantage. Bennett’s tally would stand as the only goal of the first as the two teams traded off chances, though Grand Rapids appeared to have the edge entering the first intermission.
Keegan Kolesar recorded his first goal in a Wolves sweater in his first game since being loaned to the ECHL’s Quad City Mallards when he put a rebound between the legs of Tom McCollum at 4:37 of the second. Kolesar would finish the game with eight shots on goal, tied for third-highest on the team this season.
Scoring in his first game back since sustaining an injury, Brandon Pirri made it 3-0 Chicago on the power play. T.J. Tynan won the faceoff and drew it back to the forward, who flipped the puck past McCollum for his 19th goal of the season. The Wolves would go on to record 13 unanswered shots on goal in the first 8:30 of the second.
Pirri’s goal also chased McCollum from the net just 5:51 into the second, and Matej Machovsky took over. This marked the AHL debut for Machovsky, who posted a 2.02 GAA and .927 SV% in 21 games with the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye in his first professional season in North America.
Eric Tangradi got one back for the home team late in the second as he caught the crisp pass from Evgeny Svechnikov down low to beat Wolves’ goaltender Oscar Dansk.
Pirri recorded his team-leading 20th goal of the season at 19 seconds of the third period. This time, it was Bennett who fed the forward for Chicago’s third power-play goal of the night.
Ben Street notched a power-play goal for the home team at 15:20 but it proved too little, too late. Kolesar would get an empty-netter with 1:48 left on the clock to make it 5-2 Chicago. The forward fought three Griffins players single-handedly and created just enough room to get the insurance shot off.
Dansk finished with 39 saves, while Machovsky saved 14 of 15 shots saved in his NHL debut.
With the win, the Chicago Wolves improve to 27-17-6-2, and Dansk has won all three of his starts since his return from injury.
The Chicago Wolves next travel to Manitoba to take on the Moose on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. CST. As always, be sure to follow @SinBinWolves on Twitter for current news and game updates.