ROSEMONT, IL – The Chicago Wolves were able to take advantage of a tired San Diego Gulls team Wednesday night as they recorded their sixth win of the season, a 3-1 victory, at Allstate Arena. The fourth line opened the scoring for the team and the Wolves never squandered the lead.
The majority of the first period was relatively uneventful until San Diego Gulls player Jordan Samuels-Thomas high-sticked Kevin Lough, drawing blood. While Lough was okay, the Wolves were unable to take advantage of the double-minor which ran over into the second period of play.
After the first, both teams were in an 8-8 tie for shots on goal, and the play had been about that even. However, Chicago’s fourth line would prove the turning point for this team, as Tyler Wong put Lough’s rebound top-shelf to beat netminder Kevin Boyle at 4:34 of the second.
“Our fourth line got us going after the power play in the first that we didn’t do very well on,” said wolves head coach Rocky Thompson. “They went out and they had a great shift in the offensive zone. They played hard, and it kind of inspired the rest of the bench to get going and then they got a big goal there in the second period.”
Rebounds would go on to be the theme of the night, as Beau Bennett popped in a rebound of his own three minutes later. Boyle had slid all the way over to the other side of the net to make the initial save on Jake Walman’s shot, but could not get back for the rebound leaving an empty net for Bennett to throw the puck into.
After two periods of play, the Wolves found themselves with a 2-0 lead and a 24-12 advantage in shots.
Ivan Barbashev put an exclamation point on Chicago’s victory halfway through the third. The Wolves’ third goal of the night came on another rebound, as this time Barbashev teed up the result from another Lough feed.
San Diego’s lone goal of the came would come with four minutes to play. Kasimir Kaskisuo’s shutout bid was broken when Scott Sabourin was able to capitalize on an odd bounce. However, the Gulls could not capitalize when they pulled their goaltender for the extra attacker, and Bennett’s goal would stand as the game winner. Chicago was able to limit San Diego to just 16 shots on goal the entire game, while recording 31 of their own.
Wednesday’s goal marked the first time all season Bennett had scored in a win.
“It was good. The win comes first and foremost, but to help contribute a little bit was great. I mean, even playing like that, we just haven’t really got wins out of it and it was nice that we were up 3-0. We weren’t playing from behind,” the Wolves forward said after the game.
Lough, who signed a PTO Tuesday morning, made an immediate impact for the team, recording two primary assists. He spent the night paired with Griffin Reinhart who was playing in his first game back from injury. When asked about his partner, Reinhart had this to say.
“He played well. As his partner tonight, I thought it’s sometimes tough playing with a new guy. The communication isn’t there. You’ve never seen the other guy play. You don’t know what style he is. But, he played well tonight. I thought we found each other well and hopefully he can keep playing like that for us.”
When asked about their strategy going into Wednesday’s game, Thompson said,
“We knew they were going to be tired, obviously, they played a game the night before. They had a good first period and we felt if we could make them play in their own end, it would really take away their legs. It was a big advantage for us tonight, them having to play last night, so we were able to make them play in their own end for extended periods of time and I thought it kind of took a little bit of the life from them as the game wore on.”
The Chicago Wolves travel to the Cleveland Monsters for games Friday and Saturday, at 6 p.m. and noon, respectively.
Thompson told reporters after the game, the team is already looking ahead to this pair of games, saying,
“We’re playing two games against Cleveland, which is just ahead of us by a little bit, but within striking distance if we can gain some momentum here.”
As always, be sure to follow @SinBinWolves on Twitter for up-to-date news and game updates.