Game 5: Chicago Wolves 3, Rockford IceHogs 5
David Gust had a five point night in Rockford last week with two goals and three assists. Unfortunately he did it in an IceHogs sweater en route to powering his new team to a win.
A busy first period saw both Zach Sawchenko and Dylan Wells (another former Wolf) peppered with shots, but it was the Wolves who came out on top thanks to Alexander Pashin’s first North American goal.
Alexander Pashin, yessir! pic.twitter.com/e53qk2rNwV— Chicago Wolves (@Chicago_Wolves) October 29, 2022
The second period saw two IceHogs goals, including one shortly after a Wolves penalty kill where they failed to clear the puck at all. With exhausted defenders stuck out on the ice for a majority of the kill, the IceHogs were able to retain possession of the puck after returning to full strength and score. David Gust also recorded his first of the game to give the IceHogs the lead.
A few minutes later, Nate Sucese recorded his first goal of the season thanks to a burst of speed from defenseman David Farrance. Farrance raced up the middle of the ice, split the IceHogs defense and shot on Wells. The rebound came out directly to Farrance, who dropped a pass for Sucese to tap in.
Good goal, good group hug, all around 10/10 pic.twitter.com/IbMnmYrJok— Chicago Wolves (@Chicago_Wolves) October 29, 2022
The tie was short lived, however, as Gust recorded his second goal of the night, then shortly after helped set up yet another IceHogs goal.
A two-goal deficit seemed manageable, but another IceHogs goal just 25 seconds into the third period seemed to take some wind out of the Wolves’ sails. Jamieson Rees put in his first goal of the season on what started as an individual effort to bring the puck up the ice. His initial shot was stopped, and the rebound came back out to the Wolves, who cycled the puck around until it came back up to Rees, camped out next to the goalie.
But penalty trouble shortly after Rees’s goal helped disrupt any momentum for the Wolves and they only managed to record two shots over the course of the rest of the period.
It could be worse though. This could be the Wolves’ mascot.
Scoring: Alexander Pashin, 1 G; Nate Sucese, 1 G; Jamieson Rees, 1 G; Anttoni Honka, 2 A; David Farrance, 1 A; Max Lajoie, 1 A; Josh Melnick, 1 A
In net: Zach Sawchenko, saved 19 of 24, 0.792 sv%
Game 6: Chicago Wolves 3, Milwaukee Admirals 4 (OT)
Coach Brock Sheahan’s first thought on his feelings after this game was “frustrated”, and one look at the box score will tell you why. The Wolves surrendered a lead, took three straight penalties, and allowed 50 shots to reach Pyotr Kochetkov.
Maybe given all that, it’s actually somewhat of a lucky thing that they got the game to overtime in the first place.
The Wolves controlled play for the opening minutes of the game, recording six shots in the opening five minutes of play. Of course, that just means that Milwaukee was going to score first, with former Wolf Phil Tomasino opening scoring.
Nate Sucese tied the game a little over a minute later, releasing what probably should have been a harmless wrist shot that beat Admirals goaltender Yaroslav Askarov. Blake Murray, making his AHL debut, picked up an assist on Sucese’s goal.
Josh Melnick gave the Wolves the lead at the end of the first period, redirecting a shot past Askarov.
The second period was scoreless, which was quite a feat given that the Admirals doubled the Wolves up in shots, putting 18 shots on Pyotr Kochetkov, who was forced into having to make some difficult saves to keep his team in the lead.
Two quick Admirals goals at the beginning of the third period made this game start to feel like a bit of a retread of the prior night’s loss in Rockford. But Tuukka Tieksola put in his first goal of the season, sliding a puck underneath Askarov’s pads to tie the game.
Action headed to overtime, where three-on-three play was almost instantly negated by a penalty call against Jack Drury. Drury had managed to steal the puck from the Admirals, but was called for a hook in the process, blowing the play dead.
The Wolves managed to weather the penalty kill, but much as they experienced in Rockford the night before, the players kept failing to clear the puck. With the Wolves unable to change out their exhausted penalty killers, the Admirals took advantage of the situation. Kochetkov made four fantastic saves, including a diving block with his pads, but that rebound came right back out to the Admirals, who were able to score.
Despite the loss, Sheahan spoke highly of Kochetkov’s performance in net. “Obviously we gave up a lot, especially at the end there with the four on three. I thought he gave us a chance to win,” Sheanah said. “It wasn’t one of our best efforts but he was unbelievable, he was composed, and saw the puck well. I just loved the way he moved and it’s good to see that.”
One of Sheahan’s biggest concerns coming out of this game was puck management, which feels like a given when you look at the shot totals. “We definitely were outchanced in this game and that’s a little concerning. There were pockets where our puck management led to a lot against and that’s something we’ve talked about. But when we’re playing to what our identity is supposed to be, we’re doing good things. We just have to do it a lot more.”
As noted earlier, forward Blake Murray made his AHL debut in this game, drawing into the lineup after injuries to Mackenzie MacEachern and Malte Stromwall, plus the trade of Lane Pederson, left some spots open among the forwards. The experience was a bit of a whirlwind for him; he played the night prior with the Norfolk Admirals and received a call from Wolves general manager Wendell Young afterwards, informing him of the call-up.
“Obviously a lot of excitement, it’s my first call-up. This is my second year [playing professional hockey], so it’s obviously great to get my first game under my belt,” Murray said. “There’s obviously a little bit of nerves and a little bit of things I can work on but it’s obviously going to come with more experience.”
With no real time to practice with the team prior to making his debut, Murray focused on playing a simple game. He’s already familiar with the systems the team uses after having spent time at the Hurricanes’ camp, as well as with the Wolves before he was reassigned to the ECHL. “I know what it’s like here and the type of game they play, so it wasn’t too bad and it was just obviously a very fast game and you’ve got to think fast and make smart plays and be simple. I was just trying to do that and get my first game under my belt.”
Note that in the below, Eric Cooley should be the fourth line right wing rather than Mattheos.
Wolves look to be lined up as follows:— Sarah Avampato (@WriteSaidSarah) October 30, 2022
Perlini - Drury - Dzingel
LaBate - Ponomarev - Pashin
Melnick - Rees - Tieksola
Murray - Sucese - Mattheos
Lajoie - Honka
Lagesson - Seeley
Farrance - Mendel
Scoring: Josh Melnick, 1 G, 1 A; Nate Sucese, 1 G; Tuukka Tieksola, 1 G; Jamieson Rees, 1 A; Griffin Mendel, 1 A; Anttoni Honka, 1 A; Blake Murray, 1 A; William Lagesson, 1 A
In net: Pyotr Kochetkov, saved 46 of 50, 0.920 sv%