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COVID protocols, depleted roster lead to Wolves loss

With many of the team’s offensive talents either with the NHL or out due to COVID protocols, the Wolves continue to struggle.

Courtesy of Chicago Wolves

The Chicago Wolves continue to have intermittent issues with COVID-19, as they have had yet another game postponed. Their Thursday game against the Grand Rapids Griffins was postponed until later this month, leaving the Wolves with only one game on their schedule this past week.

While the AHL does not release names of players who are on the COVID protocol list, the team was very short-handed in its game against Rockford. Between COVID protocols and call-ups to the NHL and taxi squads, the Wolves needed to sign two players to PTO deals and one player to an ATO, and still had to play a defenseman at forward in order to ice a full roster. Forward Matt Boudens became the first player to suit up for the Wolves this season who also played there last year; he got 10 games with the Wolves in the 2019-20 season while on loan from the ECHL’s Fort Wayne Komets.

Hurricanes prospects Ryan Suzuki, Jamieson Rees and Dominik Bokk were all unavailable for Saturday’s game. Again, unlike the NHL, we don’t know if they were held out for COVID protocol reasons or for injuries, but given the depleted nature of the roster, if they were able to play, there would have been no reason to hold them out.

Game 21: Chicago 3, Rockford 4 (SO)

For the seventh consecutive game, the Wolves surrendered the first goal of the evening. While two quick goals — Cole Smith and David Cotton scored just 35 seconds apart — near the end of the first period put the Wolves back on top, the remainder of the game was a very back-and-forth affair.

The Wolves continue to give up a significant amount of shots on goal, surrendering 41 this time to Rockford while only taking 26 shots of their own. With the goaltending predictably regressing from the previous heights early in the season, the continual increase in shots allowed could be a cause for concern. In seven of their last 10 games, the Wolves have allowed more than 30 shots on goal, including a season-high 45 shots against last week by the Grand Rapids Griffins.

The Wolves took the lead again after Cole Smith’s second goal of the game, coming with just 11 seconds left in the second period. That looked likely to stand as the game winner, as Wolves goaltender Connor Ingram stood tall against Rockford’s third period onslaught. With around three minutes remaining in regulation, the IceHogs pulled first year goaltender Ivan Nalimov, and, well, you can probably guess how this one goes: Rockford tied the game with just over two minutes left on the clock.

A back-and-forth overtime couldn’t end this one, so a shootout was necessary. Patrick Harper and David Cotton were both unable to score for the Wolves, while Tim Soderlund and Brandon Pirri converted for the IceHogs.

Scoring: Cole Smith, 2 G; David Cotton, 1 G; David Warsofsky, 2 A; Joey Keane, 1 A; Sean Malone, 1 A; David Gust, 1 A; Frederic Allard, 1 A

In Net: Connor Ingram, 0.925 Sv %, saved 37 of 40