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Chicago Wolves win in Grand Rapids, drop two to local rival IceHogs

2-0 leads are the WORST.

Courtesy Chicago Wolves

Game 12: Wolves 2, Griffins 1

For all of the high-scoring games the Wolves have played in this season (they’ve scored three or more goals in nine of their games this season) this was a tightly played affair, with Grand Rapids Griffins goaltender Calvin Pickard stealing the show. The Wolves put 48 shots on him, a new season high, and still scored only one goal during regulation.

Of course, that one goal was a beautiful play from Jamieson Rees, scoring his first of the season off of a no-look pass from Jack Drury.

Pickard faced just one shot in overtime, and it was a doozy from Andrew Poturalski, who carried the puck in alone, coast-to-coast, to give the Wolves the win.

Goaltender Alex Lyon appeared in his first game since October 29, after spending time up with the Hurricanes and picking up his first win with the NHL franchise.

Scoring: Andrew Poturalski, 1 G; Jamieson Rees, 1 G; Jack Drury, 1 A; Stefan Noesen, 1 A

In net: Alex Lyon, saved 26 of 27, 0.963 Sv%

Game 13: Wolves 3, IceHogs 6

On Friday, the Wolves tried and failed to maintain their perfect record on the road. The Wolves got off to an early lead, with Dominik Bokk scoring just 2:48 into the game. Bokk picking up his first of the season felt extra satisfying given his recent string of healthy scratches, and overall he looked more active and engaged while back in the lineup.

Defenseman Josh Jacobs picked up his first goal of the year a few minutes later, but the lead didn’t last, as the Wolves allowed three straight goals by the IceHogs: a Brett Connolly power play goal and a Josiah Slavin shorthanded goal in the first period, and an Alex Nylander goal at four-on-four midway through the second period.

David Gust tied the game shortly after the Nylander goal, but there was no third period comeback to be found. Lukas Reichel, one of the Blackhawks’ top prospects, scored at 1:04 in the third period, and the Wolves couldn’t find the equalizer from there. Two empty net goals from Rockford in the final two minutes of play sealed the deal.

Special teams once again gave the Wolves trouble in this one, as they failed to score on four separate opportunities. This was the fifth game this season where the Wolves could not convert on the power play. While the Wolves have little problem scoring at even strength, the power play has frequently been a point of trouble for the team.

Scoring: David Gust, 1 G; Josh Jacobs, 1 G; Dominik Bokk, 1 G; Jesper Sellgren, 1 A; Jalen Chatfield, 1 A; Jack Drury, 1 A; Maxim Letunov, 1 A; Spencer Smallman; Jamieson Rees, 1 A

In net: Eetu Mäkiniemi, saved 21 of 25, 0.840 Sv%

Game 14: Wolves 2, IceHogs 3 (SO)

For the second consecutive night, the Wolves watched a 2-0 lead evaporate after steady push-back from the scrappy IceHogs. Stefan Noesen scored shorthanded and David Gust put a pause on the Wolves’ power play woes, but it wasn’t enough to get the job done.

The IceHogs got on the board at the end of the second period as Dylan McLaughlin capitalized on a rebound. Less than a minute into the third period, Stefan Noesen was called for a penalty after cross-checking an IceHogs player in the face on his way back to the bench. It’s less than an ideal penalty to take at any time, but especially not when you’ve got just a one-goal lead. Unsurprisingly, the IceHogs seized the opportunity to tie things up.

The third period gave way to overtime, where Alex Lyon stood strong during a flurry of IceHogs attempts with just seconds left in the extra frame. In the shootout, Noesen, Bokk, Poturalski, and Gust were all stopped. Dylan McLaughlin was the only player to convert on either side, winning the game for the visitors.

Warsofsky thought the team played well, particularly in response to the previous day’s loss. His approach to hockey feels highly philosophical, seeking to learn from losses while also being able to put them behind you, and this game was no exception. “Things are gonna go bad in hockey and in life and you have to be able to respond,” Warsofsky said. I thought our guys stuck with it. We had chances to win the hockey game and we had chances to score in overtime.”

Looking at the penalty from Noesen that led to the tying goal against, Warsofsky paused for several seconds before answering: “I know we want to play on the edge and sometimes it’s calls you don’t agree with. You have to kind of deal with it. Not many refs take back penalties so us getting all fired up, myself included, probably doesn’t do any good. We’ve got to just kind of be mentally tough to kill it and move forward.”

One good thing that came out of this game? Dog adoptions! The Wolves host regular adopt-a-dog nights, and one of the pups found a new home with play-by-play broadcaster Jason Shaver.

Scoring: Stefan Noesen, 1 G; David Gust, 1 G; Max Lajoie, 1 A; C.J. Smith, 1 A; Andrew Poturalski, 1 A

In net: Alex Lyon, saved 23 of 25, 0.920 Sv%