The Wolves had a sensational opportunity over the weekend to take two games at home against division opponents. The weekend began against the Milwaukee Admirals, who defeated the Wolves last Wednesday, and ended with in-state rival, the Rockford IceHogs.
Wolves silence the Admirals
The Wolves powered through their game on Saturday night, capturing a massive win over the Milwaukee Admirals, who just days before, beat the Wolves in a shootout. The win allowed the Wolves to inch closer to second place behind the Iowa Wild in the Central Division standings.
After going toe to toe with the Admirals on Wednesday, the Wolves took advantage of some home cooking and beat the Admirals at Allstate Arena. The Wolves jumped out to an early lead and made sure they hung on to it. About two and a half minutes into the game, Gage Quinney struck with his ninth goal of the year and gave the Wolves the early 1–0 lead.
There was no more scoring in the first, but the Wolves added in the second with a Jake Bischoff tally. Just two minutes and forty seconds into the middle frame, the Wolves found themselves with a two-goal lead.
With roughly six minutes having bled off the clock, the Wolves found themselves up four goals thanks to Gage Quinney’s second and third tallies of the game. The second goal and hat trick tally came just 45 seconds apart.
With 12:46 left on the clock, the Admirals finally found the back of the net. Eeli Tolvanen scored to put the Admirals on the board and ultimately ruin Oscar Dansk’s chance at a shutout. Despite the disappointment of losing the shutout, Dansk was excellent, and the Wolves captured a coveted 4–1 victory over a very good Admirals team.
IceHogs blank the Wolves
Riding high after a massive win on Saturday, the Wolves welcomed the Rockford IceHogs to the Allstate Arena and hoped to take both games over the weekend.
The first period was full of action but lacked scoring. The IceHogs had a number of solid opportunities on the power play, but Sparks and the Wolves’ penalty kill were able to nullify any momentum. The best chance for the Wolves came via a Brandon Pirri crossbar. Pirri nearly went bar down on Collin Delia but he couldn’t beat the goalie’s best friend.
The IceHogs wasted no time however in the middle frame. Just 29 seconds into the period, a puck found its way through Garrett Sparks and into the blue paint. Tyler Sikura was there to tap home the puck and give the visitors the 1–0 lead.
The second period did not yield much for the Wolves. Brandon Pirri had a few solid chances once again, but the rest of the team was kept in check by the IceHogs’ team defense. Late in the period, Gage Quinney took a monster hit from Dmitry Osipov and was slow to get up. He made it back to the bench under his own power but was visibly in pain.
Not too soon after the Quinney injury, the IceHogs struck to double their lead. Gabriel Gagne scored his first goal as a member of the IceHogs and gave the visitors the additional cushion. The goal was the first chance from the slot that beat Sparks all afternoon.
The Wolves attempted a comeback. The home team found themselves controlling play as they were heading into the final period. However, it was all for not as Collin Delia made a few major saves and captured the shutout against their cross-state rival.
One notable frustration during Sunday’s game was the Wolves’ reliance on the stretch pass. Every quality chance during the first two and a half periods came via the stretch pass. They only hit on about 10% of the passes they tried, and the best opportunity was denied by the crossbar on Pirri’s earlier bid.
Aside from the Pirri line, the best line for the Wolves on Sunday was the fourth line, comprised of Paul Cotter, Jermaine Loewen, and Cam Maclise. They were forechecking machines all game and Loewen had a solid bout with Nick Moutrey early in the game. They brought great energy when it seemed like other lines were flat. Was it easy to overlook Rockford after defeating the mighty Admrials the night before? Possibly. However, the Wolves missed a golden opportunity to get two critical wins to help their position in the standings.
The Wolves are off until Friday, January 24 when they will travel to Texas to play the Stars for a two-game set. Games are both scheduled for 7:00 p.m. CST on Friday and Saturday. The Stars are currently tied with the IceHogs for fourth place in the Central Division by points but have a game in hand. Every divisional game is key for the Wolves from here on out but creating some more distance between the Wolves and the rest of the pack is important as the schedule quickly approaches February.
In the meantime, the Wolves are doing some pretty cool things in the community. On Tuesday, January 21, ten Wolves players are heading to Lurie’s Children’s Hospital downtown to visit with the kids and brighten their days.
Our guys can't wait to get out to see people all over the Chicago area Tuesday.
There's a visit to Ronald McDonald House. A Read To Succeed appearance. Three youth hockey practices.
— Chicago Wolves (@Chicago_Wolves) January 21, 2020
Pretty cool for the kids and players to spend some time together and interact on a cold Tuesday in January.
Until next time, enjoy your week. We’ll see you at the Wolves’ den.