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Pyotr Kochetkov building a legacy and a fanbase in just 10 career AHL games

Everyone Loves Pyotr!

Dale Woltman/Chicago Wolves

Game 61: Wolves 4, Monsters 2

A third-period rally from Josh Leivo and CJ Smith secured a Wolves win and officially clinched a spot in the Calder Cup Playoffs. This makes the Wolves the first team outside of the Pacific Division to secure a spot. The Wolves will appear in the playoffs for the 21st time in its 28 year franchise history.

Defenseman Tarmo Reunanen, acquired from the New York Rangers organization, started his first shift in a Wolves jersey in epic fashion. Just 1:02 into the first period, Reunanen received a puck from Stefan Noesen and unleashed a powerful shot from the blue line which sailed past Monsters goalie Jet Greaves.

The Monsters scored the next two goals, first off of a rebound, and second off of a puck that deflected in off of a player’s shinpads. The Monsters held that lead until early in the third period, when the Wolves mounted their comeback.

Early in the third period, Leivo parked himself in front of the net and received a pass from Jamieson Rees which he easily shot in for the game tying goal. Just 19 seconds later, CJ Smith gave the Wolves the lead when he got sent on a breakaway thanks to Ivan Lodnia.

With the Monsters net empty with more than three minutes left in regulation, Leivo sealed the win for the team. Goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov recorded his eight AHL win in the game.

Scoring: Josh Leivo, 2 G; CJ Smith, 1 G; Tarmo Reunanen, 1 G; Ryan Suzuki, 2 A; Jack Drury, 1 A; Andrew Poturalski, 1 A; Stefan Noesen, 1 A; Ivan Lodnia, 1 A; Jamieson Rees, 1 A

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

Game 62: Wolves 1, Admirals 4

In the first game of a three-in-three set, the Wolves controlled play early, with the Admirals not taking their first shot until 6:47 into the game. Once again, they jumped to an early lead in a game, with Jamieson Rees opening scoring just 1:35 into the first period.

Two quick goals from the Admirals in the second period helped turn the tide of the game, however. Former Wolf Cody Glass tied the game midway through the second period, and defenseman Matt Donovan gave the Admirals the lead just 1:16 later.

A penalty-filled third period helped further disrupt the flow of the game, and the Wolves never quite managed to right the ship. The Admirals held an 11-7 shot advantage in the third period and scored twice, including an empty net goal with more than three minutes left to play.

Altogether, the teams amassed 78 combined penalty minutes, including 10-minute misconducts doled out to Spencer Smallman and Mathieu Olivier, and fighting penalties for Kyle Marino and Joseph LaBate.

Scoring: Jamieson Rees, 1 G; Jack Drury, 1 A; Josh Leivo, 1 A

In net: Alex Lyon, saved 21 of 24, 0.875 sv%

Game 63: Wolves 6, Admirals 1

Wolves coach Ryan Warsofsky preaches a strong response after a bad game and the Wolves delivered on Saturday, bouncing back easily from their lackluster performance the night before.

One way to get things started? With your enforcer absolutely rocking a guy just around three minutes into the game.

Stefan Noesen opened scoring for the Wolves shortly thereafter, collecting a puck seconds after stepping out of the penalty box after a tripping penalty. He and Jack Drury exchanged the puck, with Noesen eventually receiving it, coming down the slot, and firing on Connor Ingram.

David Gust scored later in the first period for the Wolves, collecting a loose puck after a shot from Stelio Mattheos clanged off the posts and fell into the blue paint. The Admirals got on the board a few minutes later on the power play, with Cody Glass banking a shot off of Wolves defenseman Jesper Sellgren. Glass’s goal came on just the third shot of the period for the Admirals, who did not get their first shot until more than halfway through the period.

That was the last time the Admirals even posed a threat to the Wolves, however, as the home team dominated the rest of the game. Noesen recorded his 37th goal of the season on a delayed penalty call against the Admirals, marking the only tally of the second period.

The third period featured goals from Josh Leivo, Jamieson Rees, and Jack Drury to secure a resounding win for the Wolves. Drury ended the game with a goal and three assists, a new career high for him. Rees’s goal came off of a particularly smart play from the young forward, as he picked up an Admirals turnover at the blue line, skated in alone on Ingram, and scored.

But, let’s be real: if you followed along with this game at all on social media, you want to hear about Pyotr Kochetkov.

The rookie netminder already endeared himself immediately to Wolves fans in his first game, when he seemingly challenged the entire visitor’s bench after being run over on a play. His fiery personality combined with his skill in net made him a quick fan favorite. But I’m pretty sure that just 10 games into Kochetkov’s North American career, he’s already cemented a legacy here in Chicago.

Midway through the third period, Admirals forward Tommy Novak cross-checked Wolves captain Andrew Poturalski into the glass behind the Admirals net. Predictably, everyone immediately joined in the fray, with Wolves players jumping in to defend their captain. Admirals goaltender Connor Ingram got involved himself, coming behind the net and throwing punches.

Kochetkov, 200 feet away, didn’t like that. Kochetkov quickly came out of the net and made a beeline for the other end of the ice. He discarded his stick at center ice and had to be intercepted by a referee before he could join in the melee himself.

For his adventure, Kochetkov picked up a minor penalty for leaving the crease. A well-earned two minutes for the young goaltender for an unforgettable sequence.

From Jack Drury’s perspective, he loves having a goalie with that much passion in net behind him. “I think since the day he got in the locker room, we’ve loved him,” Drury said. “He’s a great team guy. His play speaks for itself. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a goalie be so good at playing the puck. He makes the saves and he can do things like that.”

Warsofsky echoed Drury’s thoughts on Kochetkov’s importance and fit with the team: “He wants the net. He plays with some emotion. He wants to win, he’s a competitor. He’s got a great mindset when he comes to the rink and works and his teammates love him, and he’s fit in really well. He’s done a really good job and we got a really good goalie that I think we’re gonna see in the NHL for a long time here coming.”

Scoring: Stefan Noesen, 2 G, 1 A; Jack Drury, 1 G, 3 A; Josh Leivo, 1 G; Jamieson Rees, 1 G; David Gust, 1 G; Stelio Mattheos, 1 A; Joey Keane, 1 A; Cavan Fitzgerald, 1 A; Andrew Poturalski, 1 A; Artyom Serikov, 1 A

In net: Pyotr Kochetkov, saved 21 of 22, 0.955 sv%

Game 64: Wolves 3, Stars 5

The Wolves closed out their three-in-three with another game against the Texas Stars, but unfortunately they couldn’t sustain their level of success from the previous night’s Admirals game. The Stars jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period. That includes a sequence where the Stars took advantage of a major penalty issued to Josh Leivo to record two goals in 22 seconds at the end of the period.

A second-period comeback attempt was kickstarted by CJ Smith, who scored twice, including once on the power play. A late third period goal from Stefan Noesen, his 38th of the season, tied the game, but a little over a minute later, the Stars regained the lead off of a shorthanded goal from Ty Dellandrea. Dellandrea intercepted a puck at center ice and went in for a 2-on-0 against goaltender Jack LaFontaine. The puck trickled past LaFontaine and into the net. An empty-net goal for the Stars with 31 seconds left on the clock assured them the win.

The Wolves were outshot by the Stars in this game 39-32, making it the third time this season the Stars have had the edge there. The Wolves overall have outshot their opponents 55 times this season. The Stars and Manitoba Moose are the only teams who have outshot the Wolves more than once. (Manitoba has had the edge five times in eight games.)

Scoring: CJ Smith, 2 G, 1 A; Stefan Noesen, 1 G, 2 A; Andrew Poturalski, 2 A; Chris Bigras, 1 A

In net: Jack LaFontaine, saved 34 of 38, 0.895 sv%