Writing Chance (5)
With the Chicago Wolves and Oklahoma City Barons in a four-way tie for the eighth seed in the Calder Cup Playoffs, Wednesday night’s game was a must win for the Wolves. Even more importantly they needed to win a few games as they had lost six of their last eight.
The Barons got on the board first when Anton Lander slid one past Wolves goaltender Matt Climie. It didn’t take the Wolves long to regroup as Danny Groulx found the back of the net just 23 seconds later for his fifth goal of the season. Darren Haydar then added his team-leading 18th goal with just under two minutes to play in the first.
“I need to help contribute, offensively and defensively and get on the board. I come to the rink ready to score every game,” said Wolves captain Haydar.
Much like the first period, the Barons were able to score first in the second as they tied it up four minutes into the period. Alex Plante scored the goal off of a bad turnover when Climie attempted to play the puck around the boards behind the net. The puck bounced out front and all Plante had to do was aim for the empty net. The period was a rather sloppy one with many turnovers by both teams. The Wolves had an opportunity to score when the Barons were given a penalty with six minutes remaining but the Wolves couldn’t capitalize on the chance and went into the locker room tied at 2-2.
The third was a battle between the two goalies. Barons goalie Yann Danis made several big saves including two breakaways and several odd man rushes by the Wolves. Climie also had some big time saves in the period.
With a 2-2 tie at the end of regulation, the two teams headed into a five minute sudden death overtime. With a four-on-one odd man rush the Wolves had a chance to end the game but with a sloppy turnover they weren’t able to get a good shot off.
With the teams still tied at the end of overtime, the game went to a shootout. Climie stopped five of the six Baron attempts. Niklas Jensen of the Wolves was able to secure the win with a dazzling shootout attempt that he put in the net for an easy highlight-reel goal. The Wolves were able to come away with the 3-2 win and moved themselves into the seventh-place playoff spot in the Western Conference.
“Getting one point is good, but getting the second is important. It was a good game and our speed lines matched up with theirs, and our physical lines also matched up. I was happy with our overall play,” said Wolves coach Scott Arniel.
The Wolves have 13 games remaining until they battle for the Calder Cup and two of those games come against the Barons again, which will be key games for both teams down the stretch.
Rosemont, IL--Despite building a thundering 4-0 lead halfway through the second period, the Chicago Wolves were only a couple mistakes away from breaking their four-game home win streak as they defeated the Rockford IceHogs 5-3 tonight at the Allstate Arena.
By Megan Hernbroth
It seemed all downhill after the Chicago Wolves won the opening face-off against the Abbotsford Heat on Feb. 4. The Wolves dropped to a 4-3 loss in an overtime shoot-out.
“We played really well,” Jaime Sifers, defenseman, said. “From the puck drop, we really came out strong.”
The first period started strong for the Wolves, but fell quickly with a penalty off of center Jason Krog for hooking. The Wolves played a successful penalty kill with a clear and strong shot blocking.
Following the penalty, the team kept momentum strong with aggressive offense, but defense had dwindling aggression towards the end of the period, with a few sloppy passes. Andrew Kozek redeemed the team with the opening goal at 16:45 in the first, with an assist by Fredrik Pettersson.
Andrew Zubarev kept the defense playing strong with a slide block, but had a hard time getting off the ice following a stoppage of play. The Wolves closed out the first period ahead by one and with 11 shots on goal.
“The turning point [of the game] was when we took the lead,” Sifers said.
The second period opened with the Wolves on a penalty kill, Mannino strong in the crease. Offense did not disappoint, with forward Tim Miller checking strongly against the Heat. Jon Rheault of the Heat scored, but was followed closely by a verbal altercation between teams. They remained hostile for the remainder of the game, with shouts and fight attempts after many stoppages of play.
The Wolves emerged again victorious on a penalty kill, followed closely by a strong shot on goal. They were rewarded a power play after a Heat penalty, with all scoring attempts consisting of far slapshots. The power play ended with no score, but the team was given a second chance with another power play, but wasted the two minutes with passing. The period ended on a power play, a missed opportunity of a breakaway chance by right wing Spencer Machacek.
Starting the third period, the Wolves were seeing red as the tension on ice grew with a lot of verbal back and forth exchanges. Darren Haydar scored a 1-on-2 goal, assisted by Andre Deveaux, bringing the Wolves back up in front.
The Heat responded with a short poke-in goal by Stefan Meyer, assisted by Quintin Laing and T.J. Brodie. Playing keep away, the Wolves wasted another power play, but had a few wide shots on goal. Meyer scored for the Heat again quickly, to moans of the crowd.
Haydar responded with yet another goal, with a shot off the post after some deliberation of the officials. The third period ended with a tied score, 3-3, driving the Wolves into overtime.
The Heat began the five-minute period with a power play, turning into a five on three situation for the Heat after more Chicago penalties. The Wolves spent most of the period killing penalties, leading the game into a shootout.
Mannino kicked out the first Abbotsford shot, and Leland Irving saved the retaliating Chicago attempt by Kozek. Nigel Dawes is the first to find the back of the net, but Matt Keith of Abbotsford responded with a successful shot. Greg Nemisz of Abbotsford also proved successful, ending the game with a quick shot on goal finding the back of the net.
“We really tried to make it hard for their defense,” Sifers said. “We had a lot of strong shifts, and it was nice to see.”
When asked about the hostility between teams, Sifers was glad the aggression did not escalade.
“There wasn’t too much after the whistles,” Sifers said. “No one wants the bad penalties, so we kept to ourselves.”
Grand Rapids Griffins 7 Chicago Wolves 5
By: Nick Kapetan
If any game symbolized perfectly how important it is to get out of the gate quickly, this contest was it. Right from the start the Wolves’ defenders appeared flat, losing the puck in the neutral zone constantly. All season long the Wolves’ defense has been an issue, but usually the offense picks up the slack. This was not the case as the Grand Rapids Griffins tallied five unanswered goals.
“We did not come out ready to play” proclaimed Coach Don Lever. “There was no bite or urgency on either side of the puck.”
After the first period the Wolves were down four goals which resulted in goalie Drew MacIntyre being benched. Two of the goals MacIntyre allowed were off of rebounds directed right in front of the net. Once Peter Mannino took over between the pipes, the fast pace offense of the Griffins began to subside. The Wolves eventually got on the scoreboard with a goal by the birthday boy, Nigel Dawes, his twenty sixth of the season.
Entering the third period the Wolves were still at a four point disadvantage. As the final frame began to unfold, a new found momentum was evident in the Wolves. The team began to create more shots, and capitalized on them. Goals by Riley Holzapfel (6th) and Andrew Kozek (8th) instilled a fresh energy in the home team. However, the slow start by the Wolves came back to bite them. Chicago scored two more times, Ryan Garbutt (13th) and Darren Haydar (19th) but still came up short. The Griffins found the back of the net twice after the Wolves’ run, which resulted in seven total goals.
“We had a tough hole to dig out of” explained Center Ryan Garbutt. “We stayed positive but we still did not have enough offensive fire power.”
With only six points separating the top seven teams in the West Division, the Wolves know that these are must win games. The loss proved to the team, once again, that they must play sixty minutes of hockey every night if they want to shrink the gap, and make a postseason run.