The Chicago Wolves returned from the All-Star break to take on the Iowa Wild in a home-and-home series. As we’ve seen multiple times this season, the game-to-game consistency for the Wolves has been a struggle, but they ultimately pulled out two wins.
On Friday in front of a home crowd, Pyotr Kochetkov stopped all 28 shots that he faced in order to record his first regular season AHL shutout. (He recorded two in last year’s playoffs and already had three in the NHL). After a slow first period, where Kochetkov only had to turn away five shots, the Wolves took over in the second, outshooting the Wild 16-9, scoring three times. Goals from Nathan Sucese and Jack Drury came just over a minute apart, and Vasily Ponomarev kept the good times going with a tally just 11 seconds into the third period. In the 5-0 rout of the Wild, only four Wolves failed to record a shot on goal: Griffin Mendel, Joseph LaBate, Alex Green, and Tuukka Tieksola.
On Saturday, the Wolves hit the road to Iowa, where they came back from a 4-1 deficit in the first period to win 6-5 over the Wild.
Yes, that’s right — a 4-1 deficit in the first period.
Zach Sawchenko, in net for the second game of the back-to-back, had a forgettable first period, but so did the rest of the team — the Wolves were outshot 13-7 and took three penalties. The Wild scored three goals in slightly over two minutes. If you’ve been paying attention to the Wolves this season, that’s around the point where you’d be tempted to turn the game off. Prior to this game, when the Wolves were trailing after the first period, they sported a record of 3-13-0-0.
Whatever was said in that locker room during the first intermission clearly inspired the Wolves, however. Sawchenko stayed in net and the skaters came out of the gate strong, scoring on their first shot of the period. They dominated in shots, outshooting the Wild 18-7 and recorded both a powerplay goal (Stromwall) and a shorthanded goal (Drury), in addition to two even strength goals. Although the Wild pushed back in the third, recording 14 shots and scoring once, Stromwall’s third period power play goal stood as the game winner.
Max Lajoie’s four point game appears to be the highest-scoring game of his career. Lajoie currently has a three-game point streak and 10 total points over his last 10 games. Malte Stromwall and Jack Drury also currently have active three-game points streaks. Joseph LaBate scored two goals in a game for the first time since April 2016, when he scored twice for the Utica Comets.
Game 43: Chicago Wolves 5, Iowa Wild 0
Drury goals? Phenomenal. pic.twitter.com/Ix7PQbzQgI— Chicago Wolves (@Chicago_Wolves) February 11, 2023
Jammin' in a loose puck @ Pono. pic.twitter.com/mCP9A9qbnd— Chicago Wolves (@Chicago_Wolves) February 11, 2023
Scoring: Vasily Ponomarev, 1 G, 1 A; Ryan Suzuki, 1 G; Jack Drury, 1 G; Nathan Sucese, 1 G; Josh Melnick, 1 G; Mackenzie MacEachern, 2 A; William Lagesson, 2 A; Logan Lambdin, 1 A; Max Lajoie, 1 A; Jamieson Rees, 1 A; Ronan Seeley, 1 A; Malte Stromwall, 1 A
In net: Pyotr Kochetkov, saved 28 of 28, 1.000 sv%
Game 44: Chicago Wolves 6, Iowa Wild 5
More JD goals, but this time make it shorthanded pic.twitter.com/duhWLmEK4V— Chicago Wolves (@Chicago_Wolves) February 12, 2023
Scoring: Max Lajoie, 1 G, 3 A; Joseph LaBate, 2 G; Malte Stromwall, 2 G; Jack Drury, 1 G, 1 A; Ryan Suzuki, 2 A; Ronan Seeley, 2 A; Cavan Fitzgerald, 1 A
In net: Zach Sawchenko, saved 29 of 34, 0.853 sv%