ROSEMONT, IL — The Chicago Wolves down the league’s best Manitoba Moose at the Allstate Arena Friday 4-3 in overtime. With the win, the Wolves extended their point streak to 13 games and winning streak to four.
In a match between the AHL’s two hottest teams, Brandon Pirri proved to be the hottest player on the ice during the first period as his two goals gave the Wolves a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes. His first tally came on the power play with his one-timer from the point beating Moose goaltender Michael Hutchinson. The All-Star representative for the Wolves dumbfounded the goaltender again on a penalty shot, taking his time to get the goalie where he wanted him so he could light the lamp.
Before the horn could sound on the second period of play, the Moose would find themselves with both a goal and 24 minutes of penalty time as a team. Buddy Robinson solved Max Lagace on the breakaway to bring his team within one with two minutes on the clock.
For Manitoba, cooler heads would not prevail as the Moose would take two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in the middle frame. Brendan Lemieux received 14 penalty minutes himself with 41 seconds on the clock. The left wing mouthed off to the officials and broke his stick in the box when he was called for tripping. His actions spiraled into tripping and unsportsmanlike conduct minors coupled with an abuse of officials game misconduct.
Pirri caused hats to fly at 11:45 of the third when he put a rebound in the net for his second power-play goal of the night. His hat trick is only the second of his career, the first coming as a member of the Rockford IceHogs against San Antonio November 23, 2011. When asked after the game if he would be keeping any of the hats, he said he did not know where they were.
Robinson would not end the night without a hat trick of his own. The winger scored two goals of his own within the final four minutes of regulation to send the game to overtime. His third goal of the night came with just 1.2 seconds remaining on the clock as he battled in front of the net for position.
Teemu Pulkkinen scored the game-winner after catching the stretch pass from Jason Garrison. His wrister beat Hutchinson off the post for his tenth goal of the season, and Garrison grabbed his third assist of the night.
“I saw I had room, so I wanted to take a shot,” said Pulkkinen. “It was post and in. I was lucky there, I’ve been unlucky. I’ve been shooting a lot of posts, so this time it went post and in, so good.”
Lagace recorded 21 saves in the win, while Hutchinson had 30 in the loss.
Pirri became the first player to record a hat trick against the Moose this season.
“I was fortunate to be on the right side of some puck luck, but at the same time we think we’re the best team in the league. Their record – they’re a strong team, they’re deep – but we believe in ourselves in that locker room. I think we proved a lot to ourselves and the league that we’re a legitimate team, they’ve gotta worry about us.”
When asked about Pirri’s recent success on the power play, head coach Rocky Thompson said,
“He’s worked on it in practice. He was snakebitten there, probably two weeks ago I would say, he was a little bit frustrated. He started to take some reps maybe that he wasn’t taking before in practice just to get the feel again. Then things started to click. That’s what confidence can do for you.”
As for how the Wolves were able to walk away with the win?
“I liked our guys’ discipline,” said Rocky.“It was an emotional game. They’re a very good hockey team and they’ve got the best special teams in the league… Our guys were able to maintain their composure, keep their eye on the prize and that wasn’t easy to do late in the game. When you saw Manitoba come back there and [it] was able to score those two goals late, that our guys didn’t give up and we were able to come back and still get a huge win for us.”
Tonight’s victory is the first time Chicago has topped Manitoba all season. Could it also be their biggest win of the season thus far?
“Yup, I would say so,” said Rocky.
The Chicago Wolves next play the Grand Rapids Griffins at the Allstate Arena Saturday. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. As always, be sure to follow @SinBinWolves on Twitter for current news and game updates.