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Wolves win two in a row as players continue to develop chemistry

Anttoni Honka continued his points streak with more strong performances this week.

Ross Dettman/Chicago Wolves

Game 2: Chicago Wolves 2, Manitoba Moose, 5

In a repeat of their season opener, the Chicago Wolves found themselves down 2-0 at the end of the first period to the visiting team. On the opening goal, Moose defenseman Cole Maier picked off an attempt by Max Lajoie to send the puck into the neutral zone. Anttoni Honka raced in to try and slide across the ice to break up the pass, but Maier found forward Wyatt Bongiovanni who scored for the Moose.

On the second goal against, Moose forward Mikey Eyssimont collected the puck behind the net and took it up towards the blue line himself. He unleashed a shot from a distance that got past Kochetkov, who appeared to be screened on the play. Wolves defenseman David Farrance had several opportunities to disrupt Eyssimont’s play — starting back in a puck battle behind the net, all the way to the goal-scoring shot — but wasn’t able to prevent the goal.

The second period did not get off to much better of a start, with the Wolves only registering one shot in the first five minutes. The Moose scored on their second shot of the period, giving them a 3-0 lead. Honka got on the board at 7:31 into the period, finding a loose puck in the offensive zone for his first professional North American goal.

While the Wolves hoped to mount a comeback, a shorthanded goal against helped put them even further behind. Vasily Ponomarev’s stick broke while attempting to receive a pass from Ronan Seeley, allowing the Moose to pick off the pass and race up ice to score.

The Moose added an empty net goal with less than two minutes remaining. Wolves forward Mackenzie MacEachern scored with less than a minute left, but the Wolves ultimately lost their first matchup against the Moose this season.

Scoring: Anttoni Honka, 1 G; Mackenzie MacEachern, 1 G; William Lagesson, 1 A; Jamieson Rees, 1 A

In net: Pyotr Kochetkov, saved 22 of 26, 0.846 sv%

Game 3: Chicago Wolves 4, Rockford IceHogs, 1

The Wolves headed to nearby Rockford for the first of many against the local rival. With former Wolves David Gust and Dylan Wells now playing for the IceHogs, there were some familiar faces on the other side of the ice.

The Wolves started strong, outshooting Rockford 14-5 in the first period. Veteran defenseman William Lagesson scored late in the first period, coming down the ice with Malte Stromwell on a two-on-one.

Shortly after the Lagesson goal, Rockford forward Bobby Lynch took off on a breakaway but was hooked from behind. Lynch was granted a penalty shot, which hit the side of the net, preserving the Wolves lead.

Special teams was the theme of the second period, with all three goals coming on power plays. Jack Drury gave the Wolves their first power play goal of the season 16 seconds into the second period. With a power play carrying over from the end of the first, Drury won the opening faceoff. After sending the puck back to the defense, he headed up the ice to camp out in front of goaltender Jaxson Stauber. The initial shot from Anttoni Honka was stopped, but Drury was well placed to tuck in the rebound.

IceHogs forward Lukas Reichel was set up perfectly by David Gust midway through the period to get the visitors on the board. Brendan Perlini restored the Wolves two goal lead with a power play goal of his own only a few minutes later.

Action seemed to grind to a standstill in the third period, with Rockford outshooting Chicago seven to three, but with no goals to show for it. Malte Stromwall scored his first Wolves goal with less than two minutes left after the IceHogs pulled their goalie.

Scoring: Malte Stromwall, 1 G, 1 A; Brendan Perlini, 1 A; Jack Drury, 1 G; William Lagesson, 1 G; Anttoni Honka, 1 A; Alexander Pashin, 1 A; Ryan Dzingel, 1 A; Jamieson Rees, 1 A; Ronan Seeley, 1 A;

In net: Zach Sawchenko, saved 22 of 23, 0.957 sv%

Game 4: Chicago Wolves 3, Texas Stars 1

The Wolves won their second straight game in early morning action as the team welcomed both the Texas Stars and thousands of screaming schoolchildren in a school day game.

The game was by far the most physical of the Wolves’ season so far, with each team leveling heavy hits to set the tone in the first period. The Wolves also got out of the period with a lead thanks to former Star, Josh Melnick. A well-placed pass from Pyotr Kochetkov got the puck to Joseph LaBate along the side boards, who sent it up to Tuukka Tieksola. Tieksola found Melnick coming out of the neutral zone, who then raced in to score.

The Wolves outshot the Stars 13-7 in the second period, but no one was able to convert. Just over a minute into the third period, however, former Wolf, Curtis McKenzie, found the back of the net on a power play, tying the game.

Despite being outshot in the third, the Wolves dominated large stretches of play. Ater McKenzie’s goal, the Wolves didn’t allow a shot against for around eight minutes, and managed to retake the lead in that time thanks to William Lagesson and a great pass from Tieksola. Vasily Ponomarev recorded an empty net goal as well.

While it’s clear that the Wolves are still learning each other’s tendencies as teammates, some players are starting to emerge as worth watching. Anttoni Honka has recorded a point in each of his four games so far and is helping to provide offense from the blue line. After a somewhat unimpressive start to the season, Jack Drury had a much stronger game today, and hopefully his goal will help push him forward. Tuukka Tieksola is showing some creative flair as well as he’s setting up teammates for excellent scoring chances.

Scoring: Josh Melnick, 1 G, 1 A; Vasily Ponomarev, 1 G; William Lagesson, 1 G; Tuukka Tieksola, 2 A; Anttoni Honka, 1 A; Joseph LaBate, 1 A

In net: Pyotr Kochetkov, saved 29 of 30, 0.967 sv%