ROSEMONT, ILL – The Chicago Wolves came back from a 3-0 deficit after the first period to earn their sixth straight win Thursday afternoon at the Allstate Arena against the Grand Rapids Griffins, 5-4. Thursday’s victory also marks the Wolves’ first home win against the Griffins.
The Wolves opened the game with one of their worst periods of hockey in recent memory. Not only were they outshot in the period – a rarity for this high-flying offense – 15-6, but they allowed three goals. Chicago could not find success at the faceoff dot, either, going 10 minutes without winning a draw.
Colin Campbell opened the scoring at 7:33 as he pushed the rebound behind Wolves’ goaltender Maxime Lagace’s legs and into the net. Robbie Russo made it 2-0 in favor of Grand Rapids just 13 seconds later, as he put Tyler Bertuzzi’s cross-ice pass off the 2-on-1 rush out of Lagace’s reach.
Rocky Thompson used his team’s timeout immediately following the second goal, but Brett Sterling, who has been an offensive star for the Wolves as of late, took a penalty right after. Chicago was able to kill off its first penalty of the night.
A poor call on Teemu Pulkkinen combined with bad decision-making on Sterling’s behalf led to a 5-on-3 for the Griffins. Bertuzzi takes a backdoor pass and beats all the Wolves en route to his sixth goal of the year. While Lagace looked stellar in goal the first period, he was not getting a lot of help in his own zone; Grand Rapids controlled the game’s pace and possession.
The Wolves rebounded strongly in the second period. Sterling made up for his earlier costly penalties and put the puck into the net via Griffins’ goaltender Tom McCollum’s five-hole. Scooter Vaughan made it 3-2 Grand Rapids before the halfway point of the second. Vaughan’s first goal of the season was sparked by a faceoff win by Tyler Wong, who then had the feed and a screen to help pull his team within a goal.
Continuing to adhere to his lead by example philosophy, Paul Thompson tied the game at three at 14:51 of the second. T.J. Tynan grabbed the rebound off the boards behind the net and fed the captain for his tenth goal of the season. Jason Garrison would give the Wolves a 4-3 lead after forty minutes of play, as his point shot off the faceoff beat McCollum clean.
Tynan continued to prove why he’s the special teams king for the Wolves. His power-play tally at 1:39 of the third pushed the Wolves to a 5-3 lead over the Griffins on five-straight goals.
With 7:36 remaining in regulation, Bertuzzi’s second power-play score of the night pulled his team within one. However, his two power-play goals would not be enough to lead his team to a win even after McCollum was pulled for the extra attacker with two minutes on the clock.
Lagace made 30 saves in the win, improving his personal win streak to four games since returning from Vegas. The Wolves as a team have won six straight, and now own a 12-12-4-1 record on the season.
As a veteran, Garrison is often looked to for wisdom and strategy when the team is facing adversity. When asked about what he said after the 3-0 first-period deficit, he said,
“Honestly, you never want to put yourself in that position, but sometimes you’ve just gotta take a step back. You can’t do it all at once. Just gotta calm the guys down and stop from scratch and play simple. Just try to get one and work your way from there. It’s hard to get three right away.”
Rocky Thompson took an uncommon approach to the first intermission.
“We had a little bit of video actually, which you don’t usually do, just to show them the things that were problematic – which was from our dzone, all the way to the midzone, to the offensive zone. So they saw those things – it wasn’t one particular individual. It was the entire team we felt didn’t show up ready to play. That was a huge wake-up call for us.”
The Chicago Wolves look to get win lucky number thirteen Friday at the Rockford IceHogs. The puck drop is at 7 p.m. Be sure to follow @SinBinWolves for current news and game updates.
Grand Rapids Griffins’ notes, courtesy @SinBinGriffins:
The Griffins showed signs of offense scoring three goals in the opening period. But once again, the Griffins showed their inability to finish games after a lead. They continue to commit costly penalties and commit mental mistakes. Even though they are without their two leading scorers, guys need to step up. Todd Nelson is known for turning struggling teams around, but he has his work cut out for him this season.
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