The same struggles that have marred the Chicago Wolves’ season as of late continue to show up in their games, as this time they dropped back to back games in Texas.
The Wolves were outscored 11 to three, with Zach Sawchenko in net for both losses. Poor defense, limited possession time, and a league-worst power play continue to contribute to the Wolves’ struggles, as they sit at the bottom of the Central Division in the standings. (The San Diego Gulls have the worst record in the league, saving the Wolves from that distinction.)
There are some positives to be taken from the losses, no matter how frustrating they are. All three goals were scored by young players; Alexander Pashin and Blake Murray each recorded their second goals of the season, while Vasily Ponomarev took over the team lead in goals with his seventh of the year.
For a team that has struggled to get consistent scoring all season, seeing three young players as the primary drivers of offense is at least a step in the right direction. The team’s defensive issues, as well as poor goaltending, means that they may not exactly start winning more games. But if this season is already going to be chocked up to a loss as far as post-season play goes, then attention needs to turn to the development of young players.
Ponomarev in particular can be an important part of this team going forward, and seeing him play with more consistency from shift to shift while he continues to contribute offensively will be important for the team.
Ryan Suzuki also returned to the lineup, playing his first game since April 16, 2022. He earned the primary assist on Blake Murray’s goal and overall had a strong game for his first action in around eight months. Suzuki continues to grow the defensive side of his game, notably blocking several shots and playing well both with and without the puck. Suzuki remaining healthy and bringing a strong defensive presence down the middle will both serve him well as a prospect, as well as help the Wolves throughout the rest of the season.
Game 19: Chicago Wolves 2, Texas Stars 5
Huge Alexander Pashin goal pic.twitter.com/vs1T7AiCGq— Chicago Wolves (@Chicago_Wolves) December 10, 2022
Our (Blake) Murray won that round pic.twitter.com/evrUAlfccc— Chicago Wolves (@Chicago_Wolves) December 10, 2022
Scoring: Alexander Pashin, 1 G; Blake Murray, 1 G; Logan Lambdin, 1 A; Stelio Mattheos,, 1 A; Ryan Suzuki, 1 A
In net: Zach Sawchenko, saved 27 of 31, 0.871 sv%
Game 18: Chicago Wolves 1, Texas Stars 6
Scoring: Vasily Ponomarev, 1 G; Zack Hayes, 1 A; Jamieson Rees, 1 A
In net: Cale Morris, saved 27 of 33, 0.818 sv%