Injuries to a series of players on the Nashville Predators saw some of the Wolves’ most notable players leave the roster this week. Most notably, Tanner Jeannot, whose mixture of feisty attitude and goal-scoring has been crucial for the Wolves, was unavailable for the Iowa road trip as he was en route to the Predators.
Unsurprisingly, the Wolves struggled with some important players out of the lineup, resulting in losses in two of three games. Their losses to Rockford and Iowa marked the first time the Wolves lost consecutive games since a pair of back-to-back losses on March 5 and 6 to Cleveland. That was also the last time the Wolves lost a game, until Rockford ended their six-game winning streak last Wednesday.
The losses to Rockford and Iowa also meant some sweet revenge for the victors: Rockford had been winless in their six previous games against the Wolves, and Iowa had already registered four losses to Chicago, including a 10-2 drubbing by the Wolves.
Although the ship was righted by a Wolves overtime win on Saturday, there are some issues that coach Ryan Warsofsky is sure to work on with his players in their next game. The power play took a concerning turn over the last week, with the Wolves capitalizing on just two of 14 opportunities. The penalty kill stood strong, but they also had plenty of time to practice: in two games against Iowa, the Wolves took 14 penalties. Additionally, opponents had far too easy of a time getting into the offensive zone against Chicago. Odd man rushes and breakaways were more common than usual over the last several games as defensive lapses continued to cost the team.
Game 18: Rockford 4, Chicago 3
Recently returned from his stint on the Carolina Hurricanes’ taxi squad, goaltender Beck Warm was given a rough welcome back. In his first AHL start since March 13, Warm surrendered four goals on 17 shots. Granted, three of those goals came from the stick of former Wolves forward Brandon Pirri, who has always been an effective scorer at the AHL level. Pirri has spent most of his season on the Chicago Blackhawks’ taxi squad, but showed no signs of rust in his dominant performance against the Wolves.
While the Wolves’ earlier miscues and their defensive struggles were ultimately too much to overcome, the team did fight back hard in this game. They registered 12 shots and two goals, from Jeannot and Dominik Bokk, in the third period. Bokk’s goal came off an excellent pass from Phil Tomasino. As Bokk has grown more comfortable with the AHL game, he’s also been shooting the puck more: his 43 shots on goal for the season are second on the team.
Dominik Bokk drops to one knee and fires the puck into the back of the net to get the Chicago Wolves within one of the Rockford IceHogs, 4-3.— Elaine Shircliff (@imaraindancer) April 8, 2021
Phil Tomasino with a perfect pass from one faceoff circle to the other.#WeAreTheWolves #IceHogs #CHIvsRFD @FPC_AHL pic.twitter.com/hs6M7NjGmV
Scoring: Phil Tomasino, 1 G 2 A; Tanner Jeannot, 1 G 1 A; Dominik Bokk, 1 G; Patrick Harper, 1 A; David Warsofsky, 1 A
In Net: Beck Warm, 0.765 Sv %, saved 13 of 17
Game 19: Iowa 4, Chicago 1
The Wolves’ struggles continued as they went on the road to Iowa, a team which they’ve not only been dominant against this season, but for the entirety of the Iowa Wild’s existence. The Wolves have a 46-15-5-2 record in all games played against the Wild.
This game saw the return of Wild goalie Dereck Baribeau, who had been out of the lineup since February as he spent time on the Minnesota Wild’s taxi squad. The Wolves got off to a strong start, putting 11 shots on the netminder in the first period, to no avail. Instead, the Wild came out of the first period with a 3-0 lead which proved to be insurmountable.
The Wolves also saw a new face in net: Predators prospect Connor Ingram played his first game of the season in North America after spending time on the Predators’ taxi squad. Ingram, who is the sixth goaltender to play for the Wolves this season, became steadier in net as the game went on, but he was under siege during the first two periods, facing 27 total shots — two more than the Wolves registered through the entire game.
Hurricanes prospect continued his strong run of play by scoring the Wolves’ lone goal. While Cotton doesn’t always show up on the scoresheet, he has put up 11 points in 15 total games and plays the type of game that could translate to at least a bottom-six type role in the NHL in the future. His style isn’t flashy but he’s a hard worker and could be an intriguing depth scorer for the Hurricanes in the future.
Scoring: David Cotton, 1 G; Joakim Ryan, 1 A; Phil Tomasino, 1 A
In Net: Connor Ingram, 0.889 Sv %, saved 32 of 36
Game 20: Chicago 5, Iowa 4 (OT)
The Wolves finally righted the ship on Saturday, but it wasn’t an easy road. Both the Wolves and Wild put up more than 30 shots each — Chicago with 36 and Iowa with 39 — en route to an overtime win which saw the Wolves come back from a 2-0 deficit, score four straight to take the lead, only to give up two goals in the final two minutes of regulation.
Any hopes of a decent flow to this game were dashed by the combined 72 penalty minutes from the teams. Three power play goals (two for Iowa, one for Chicago) and one shorthanded goal (for Chicago) helped drive the score up, as well. The Wolves’ shorthanded goal, scored by Sheldon Rempal, was the team’s fifth of the season, placing them second in the league.
Dominik Bokk scored his seventh of the season, briefly giving the Wolves the lead at the start of the third period. Jamieson Rees showed up in multiple spots on the score sheet, registering two assists, including on the overtime game winner, and 12 penalty minutes, having received a 10-minute misconduct penalty in the first period for continuing an altercation.
Scoring: Dominik Bokk, 1 G 1 A; Anthony Richard, 1 G; Sean Malone, 1 G; Sheldon Rempal, 1 G; Phil Tomasino, 1 G; Frederic Allard, 3 A; Jamieson Rees, 2 A; Joakim Ryan, 1 A
In Net: Antoine Bibeau, 0.897 Sv %, saved 35 of 39