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Wolves rout Admirals, split weekend series against Marlies

Ryan Suzuki returns from injury to score his sixth goal of the season.

Ross Dettman/Chicago Wolves

Game 55: Wolves 5, Admirals 2

An injury depleted Wolves team didn’t let that hold them back as they turned in a strong game against the Milwaukee Admirals. Their northern rivals, currently sitting in third place in the Central Division, have given the Wolves trouble recently. After winning their first seven matchups, the Wolves then proceeded to drop three straight against the Admirals.

Wednesday’s game was a bit of vindication for their previous meeting, where a potential game winner for the Wolves was overturned, and the Wolves went on to lose in the shootout. In this game, the hero was an unlikely one: defenseman Jesper Sellgren. A 2018 Hurricanes draft pick, Sellgren is playing in his first full year in North America, and overall has adjusted to the game quite nicely.

Sellgren opened scoring for the Wolves just 23 seconds into the game, which was the fastest Wolves goal to open a game this season. He also added a second goal later in the period. This was Sellgren’s first two-goal game in the AHL, and his first three-point game. Sellgren’s second goal was set up thanks to some hard work by David Gust along the boards. Gust won a battle for the puck and passed to Sellgren, who was coming in alone on the left side of the net.

Josh Leivo made it 3-0 Wolves with a power play goal just a minute after Sellgren’s second tally of the night. Leivo tipped in a puck mid-air from a Joey Keane shot to increase the Wolves’ lead.

Ivan Lodnia made it 4-0 midway through the second period, and Josh Leivo capped off scoring for the Wolves in the third period. Leivo’s second goal came off of an excellent stretch pass from Spencer Smallman, received by Jamieson Rees. Rees and Leivo executed a perfect exchange in front of the Admirals net to score.

Both Admirals goals came off of what were essentially misplays by the Wolves. The Admirals’ first goal came when Cole Smith was allowed to come up the middle unchallenged at the end of the second period. The second Milwaukee goal trickled through goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov, who had made the first save but didn’t quite hold onto the puck. Overall, however, Kochetkov was outstanding in the game, including a strong start, which has been a struggle for him previously.

The Wolves peppered Admirals goalie Connor Ingram with 47 shots, one off of their season high of 48 (set November 17 against Grand Rapids).

Scoring: Jesper Sellgren, 2 G, 1 A; Josh Leivo, 2 G; Ivan Lodnia, 1 G; Andrew Poturalski, 2 A; Stefan Noesen, 1 A; Stelio Mattheos, 1 A; Spencer Smallman, 1 A; Joey Keane, 1 A; Jalen Chatfield, 1 A; Jamieson Rees, 1 A; David Gust, 1 A

In net: Pyotr Kochetkov, saved 27 of 29, 0.931 sv%

Game 56: Wolves 4, Marlies 2

The Wolves traveled to Toronto over the weekend for back-to-back games against the Marlies. In November, the Wolves lost back-to-back games to the Marlies, their first consecutive losses of the season. This game looked like it was going to be another loss for the Wolves as well, as they quickly found themselves in a 2-0 deficit in the first period.

The first Marlies goal got past Alex Lyon on a rebound, while the second came on a power play, where the puck was shot in off of Lyon. The Wolves found themselves on the power play shortly after that goal and used the opportunity to get onto the board thanks to CJ Smith. The play showed off the Wolves’ strong puck movement on the power play, with the puck passing through four Wolves players en route to going in.

Ryan Suzuki, playing in his first game back after a two-week absence due to injury, evened things up at the end of the second. David Gust collected a loose puck in the corner after a shot from Jesper Sellgren went wide. Gust found Suzuki streaking towards the net and they connected for a Suzuki redirect.

Despite a dominant second period from the Wolves, who outshot the Marlies 18-5, including receiving two power plays, the score remained the same. Veteran goaltender Michael Hutchinson stood strong in that period to keep his team in the game.

Two late Wolves goals in the third period sealed the win for the visitors. Josh Leivo recorded his 14th goal of the season on a 5-on-3 advantage. The Wolves’ power play excelled again there, maintaining possession the entirety of the 5-on-3. The final Wolves tally came while shorthanded with just over three minutes left to go. Toronto pulled their goaltender to get the extra advantage, but thanks to a blocked shot by Andrew Poturalski, the puck was freed up for Stefan Noesen to record his 33rd goal of the season on the empty net.

Scoring: CJ Smith, 1 G, 1 A; Stefan Noesen, 1 G, 1 A; Josh Leivo, 1 G; Ryan Suzuki, 1 G; Andrew Poturalski, 3 A; David Gust, 1 A; Jesper Sellgren, 1 A

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

Game 57: Wolves 2, Marlies 4

The narrative of Saturday’s game was flipped on the Wolves on Sunday, with Chicago scoring first but quickly surrendering the lead. After a slow first period for both sides, David Cotton opened scoring at 7:22 in the second period, banking a shot off of the Marlies goaltender for his sixth goal of the season.

Toronto responded quickly, however, scoring three times in the next four minutes to capture the lead. The Marlies scored first on a power play, then surrendered a goal to some strong puck movement from Antti Suomela. The third goal came off of a Wolves turnover behind the net.

Nick Robertson made it 4-1 for the Marlies midway through the third period. Stefan Noesen took advantage of a late power play to score his league-leading 34th goal, but the Wolves were unable to find any additional scoring to draw even.

Despite the loss, Jack LaFontaine, a Mississauga native, turned in a strong performance, with the Marlies goals largely having been avoidable with stronger play from the skaters in front of him. This was LaFontaine’s first regulation loss in the AHL.

Scoring: David Cotton, 1 G; Stefan Noesen, 1 G; Max Lajoie, 1 A; Josh Leivo, 1 A; Maxim Letunov, 1 A; Joey Keane, 1 A

In net: Jack LaFontaine, saved 21 of 25, 0.840 sv%