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Wolves struggle in weekend series against Manitoba

With three of their top scorers out of the lineup, the Wolves struggled to find the back of the net.

Ross Dettman/Chicago Wolves

Game 33: Wolves 5, IceHogs 3

The Chicago Wolves started their week on the road with a trip out to Rockford where the top trio of Stefan Noesen, C.J. Smith, and Andrew Poturalski continued to dominate. The three combined for nine points, 11 shots, and four of the five Wolves goals.

The Wolves have had an up and down season against their local nemesis this year, with a 3-2-0-1 record (including this game). It’s made for a fun rivalry, much more interesting than in past seasons where the Wolves generally had the upper hand over the IceHogs.

From the very start of the game, the Wolves controlled play, putting 14 shots on IceHogs goalie Arvid Soderblom in the first period, and an astounding 21 in the second. The second period is really where the Wolves excelled, scoring four goals in a 6:27 span to put the game out of reach.

The 45 total shots from the Wolves tied a season high, previously achieved against Iowa on January 8. Likewise, 18 shots was the lowest amount allowed by the Wolves this season. Alex Lyon picked up his first win after two straight losses to Iowa and a stint in the NHL; his last AHL win before this game was December 18 against the Admirals.

Scoring: Stefan Noesen, 2 G, 1 A; C.J. Smith, 1 G, 2 A; Andrew Poturalski, 1 G, 2 A; David Gust, 1 G; Eric Williams, 2 A; Jack Drury, 1 A; Derek Topatigh, 1 A;

In net: Alex Lyon, saved 15 of 18, 0.833 Sv%

Game 34: Wolves 3, Moose 4 (OT)

While the Wolves are righting the ship against the Rockford IceHogs, they’ve struggled this season against the Manitoba Moose. Prior to this game, both Josh Leivo and Stefan Noesen were recalled to the NHL, while C.J. Smith missed the match due to illness, depriving the Wolves of three of their top five scorers.

The Moose got out to an early lead in this one, going up 2-0 by midway through the first period. Andrew Poturalski got the Wolves on the board just over 30 seconds after the Moose’s second goal. He received a perfectly placed pass from David Gust in the slot and put in his 19th goal of the season.

The Moose regained their two-goal lead shortly thereafter, whole a second period power play goal from Maxim Letunov brought the Wolves within one. The team went into the third period searching for the equalizer. They pulled goaltender Dylan Wells with just under two minutes remaining; it only took two shots for Joey Keane to tie things up.

Having secured one point, the Wolves headed to overtime, where both teams played largely to a standstill for over a minute. The first shot in overtime came from the Moose at 1:18 and it turned out to be the last shot of the game; forward Evan Polei got in alone against Wells and snuck the puck past the goaltender as he went for a poke check.

Scoring: Maxim Letunov, 1 G, 1 A; Andrew Poturalski, 1 G; Joey Keane, 1 G; David Gust, 2 A; Jalen Chatfield, 1 A; Max Lajoie, 1 A

In net: Dylan Wells, saved 23 of 27, 0.852 Sv%

Game 35: Wolves 1, Moose 3

The Moose were playing with a team largely comprised of ECHL players, thanks to numerous recalls of Manitoba’s top players to the NHL. Despite being without several of their top scorers, the Wolves were certainly the favorites to win one, if not both, of the games this weekend. That ultimately wasn’t the case, however.

The Wolves completed their weekend in Winnipeg with a game that largely matched the same formula as the previous day’s action. The Wolves outshot the Moose and dominated play for the first half of the game. A late first period goal from David Cotton gave the Wolves the lead after a fast and furious first period. In the second period, it was Manitoba who found the back of the net, as the Wolves turned over the puck to Johnathan Kovacevic, who scored on the Moose’s first shot of the period.

Despite outshooting the Moose in each period, the Wolves couldn’t get anything else past Moose goaltender Philippe Desrosiers, playing in just his second AHL game of the season, and his first since November 6. Moose defenseman Nelson Nogier scored his first two goals of the season in the third period, including one empty net goal, to put things away for the home team.

Scoring: David Cotton, 1 G; Josh Jacobs, 1 A; Maxim Letunov, 1 A

In net: Alex Lyon, saved 20 of 22, 0.909 Sv%