MILWAUKEE – The Chicago Wolves narrowly escaped a late comeback bid by the Milwaukee Admirals Friday night at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena to win 4-3. Zac Leslie‘s power-play goal with just 1:47 on the board proved to be the difference-maker in a game with significant playoff implications.
With the Chicago Wolves clawing their way towards the first seed in the Central Division and the Milwaukee Admirals fighting for the fourth seed, getting two points mattered equally for each team.
The Wolves began the first with a bang, outshooting the Admirals 13-8, and it was Wade Megan who would draw first blood when he wristed the puck over the leg pad of Troy Grosenick. Megan had everyone on the ice – and watching – fooled into thinking he was looking to pass, and his shot caught Grosenick off guard just long enough for him to give the visitors a 1-0 lead at 11:38. Leslie kickstarted the play when he worked the puck up the ice to Megan, and Megan?s goal would stand as the only goal entering the second.
Twenty minutes after Megan’s goal, Paul Thompson doubled Chicago’s lead. Tobias Lindberg worked the puck up from behind the net to Scooter Vaughan, who waited for his captain to be open for a crisp pass. Though the Admirals would pull to within two shots on goal to end the second, 21-19, it would be the visitors who had the 2-0 lead.
Anthony Richard scored at just 1:02 of the third to kickstart Milwaukee’s comeback bid when he beat two Wolves defenders en route to beating Wolves goaltender Oscar Dansk.
Just a minute and a half later, Paul Thompson regained the two-goal lead for Chicago. Park Ridge, Ill. native Ryan Wagner, who joined the Wolves earlier in the week on a PTO after finishing up his collegiate career at U-W Madison, picked up his first pro point when he patiently took advantage of room afforded to him by an Admirals defense to feed Paul Thompson for his second goal of the night.
Philip Holm‘s clearing attempt would go right to the blade of Henry Zolnierczyk at 8:48 and the left wing easily fired the puck past Dansk to close the gap. Dansk next gave up the tying goal to Frederick Gaudreau who fired upon the goaltender from a poor angle. It should have been a routine save for the goaltender, but Gaudreau found the sweet spot between his glove and leg pad.
Petter Granberg was tagged for boarding at 16:57 of the third and it would prove to be a costly penalty for Milwaukee. Leslie recorded his third goal in a Wolves sweater on the power play, using his speed and hands to create room for himself to fire into the net.
With the win, the Wolves improve to 33-18-6-2 on the season and have extended their win streak to six games. Dansk made 30 saves as he won his seventh consecutive start since returning from injury Feb. 15.
The Chicago Wolves next face the first-place Manitoba Moose at the Allstate Arena at 7 p.m. Saturday night.
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