ROSEMONT, Ill. – The Chicago Wolves restarted their home dominance Sunday afternoon when they downed the Cleveland Monsters 5-3 at the Allstate Arena. Five different scorers contributed to the winning effort.
The Wolves danced out to an early lead when Kevin Lough completed a tic-tac-toe and wristed one from between the tops of the circles past goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks. Nathan Gerbe continued to prove why he has been a thorn in the Wolves’ side this season when he recorded his fourth point of the weekend against the Wolves on the early tying goal. His first goal of the season came when he roofed one off his backhand past Wolves netminder Oscar Dansk.
Before the period was over, Ryan Murray would give the visitors a 2-1 lead when he took advantage of a bad rebound by Dansk and poked the puck into the open net.
It appeared as if the Wolves had tied the game at two early in the second when the rebound from Nolan Valleau’s shot went off the body of Tomas Hyka and in. However, the refs waived it no goal and the ensuing review was inconclusive so the original call on the ice stood.
Just a minute later, Chicago was given a chance on the power play and Hyka’s crisp pass to Beau Bennett was one-timed past Kivlenieks who did not stand a chance.
The visitors would score a power-play goal of their own six minutes later when Sonny Milano took advantage of a screen in front of Dansk to get his first goal of the season with the Monsters.
Brett Sterling tied the game at 16:46 of the second when he went forehand-backhand on a breakaway, caught the puck as it rolled off his stick, and put it behind Kivlenieks for his 12th goal of the season.
After being outshot 12-6 in the first period, Chicago flipped the script on Cleveland for the final frame garnering a 7-2 advantage.
Zac Leslie tallied his first goal in a Wolves sweater at 14:42 in a scoring play identical to Lough’s from earlier in the game.
The Monsters would pull Kivlenieks with two minutes on the board for the extra attacker but Wade Megan put the puck into the goal for the empty-netter with 34 seconds on the clock to seal the victory for the home team.
Dansk made 19 saves in the winning effort while Kivlenieks snagged 18 of his own.
With the victory, the Wolves have won 14 of their last 15 home games and improve to 27-17-6-2 on the season.
Gerbe has had the Wolves’ number all season and especially this weekend, totaling five points (1G,4A). Head coach Rocky Thompson had some insight as to why he has been so successful against the Wolves, saying,
“Because he played 500 National League games and he’s 5’5” and there’s a reason for it. He’s a really good player and he can make nifty plays. I think that line has a lot of chemistry with [Chris] Camper and [Jordan] Schroeder. They’re all built similarly. They’re fast and they’re hard to play against.”
When asked how it felt to tally his first goal with the Wolves, Leslie said,
“It felt great. I haven’t played as well as I would’ve liked my first two games in the Wolves’ lineup, so to get a chance to come in tonight and really contribute the way I’m supposed to and what they brought me here to do, it makes me feel good and gives me confidence going into next week.”
Thompson was really happy with the defense’s performance as a whole, especially with the absence of Jake Bischoff.
“He [Leslie] did a good job. I think Nolan Valleau played well as well, and created a lot of offensive opportunities for us… Lough had another great game. Those are three defensive that were on PTOs or American League deals, one was just brought in. [I] was really happy, because tonight was a night with Bischoff being out – they played hard.”
The Wolves are in Grand Rapids Wednesday for a 6 p.m. CT puck drop. As always, be sure to follow @SinBinWolves on Twitter for current news and game updates.