ROSEMONT – Maybe the Chicago Wolves (26-16-2-2) should play more games during the middle of the week in front of 11,000-plus in attendance. With today’s School-Day Game matinee win over the Utica Comets (16-22-2-4), it brings their early rise record to 9-3-0-0. The crowd was comprised mostly of school children on a field trip to expose themselves to all aspects of a hockey game while the Wolves threw in some educational videos during the breaks like geography and showing where each player is from across the globe.
This is the first appearance at the Allstate Arena since the Vancouver Canucks purchased their own franchise from Peoria and move their affiliation from the Wolves to a new team in upstate New York. The current team is comprised of seven players that a least one time in the careers played in Chicago and with the Wolves. Former player and assistant coach from last year’s team Nolan Baumgartner is now the assistant under Travis Green.
Both teams played a spritely game with great back and forth action. But the Wolves were much better overall on most fronts to take the 4-2 win. There weren’t too many mistakes in the game but those that did occur were covered up by the great play of the team mainly in the neutral zone.
The scoring started off just after the ten minute mark in the first period as center Keith Aucoin took the puck end-to-end, wound up to take the shot but got Comet netminder Joacim Eriksson frozen as he dished the puck to the red-hot right wing Ty Rattie for the score. This was Rattie’s fourth goal in three straight games.
Late in the period after a battle for the puck along the far corner, center Alexandre Bolduc took a simple centering pass towards the net the was stopped dead in its tracks as it hit left wing Chris Porter’s skate. After quickly realizing that the puck was right in front of him, Porter collected himself and the puck to score over the glove of Eriksson to give the Wolves a 2-0 lead.
The Wolves had an excellent chance to build on that lead as two penalties were called within the last minute of the period. With over 90 seconds on the 5-on-3 the Wolves couldn’t carry the score over three going into the middle frame.
The Wolves were called for a bench minor with too many men on the ice at the 4:45 mark giving the Comets a power play opportunity. On the road they are ranks 20th in the league but that did not deter right wing Benn Ferriero to take the puck from center ice and charge in and fire a shot from the far dot and in pass Jake Allen who blinked to give the team their first goal of the afternoon.
At the 12:17 mark, the puck bounced up from behind the net landing in the crease area leading to a rugby-like scrum in front of the net. The puck popped out and former Wolves Player Nicklas Jensen took it in to tie up the game at two goals apiece.
Just like how the Wolves had a two man advantage in the first two periods, Utica had their own with to start the final frame but as with the results from the Wolves the Comets could not capitalize on the opportunity.
The Wolves broke the tie as the team was on the power play as the Comets took a bench minor themselves for too many men on the ice. Porter notched his second goal of the game as the puck was bouncing all over the place. He took his own rebound and was able to arch the puck in and over the shoulder of the Comets netminder at the 10:12 mark.
The Wolves sealed the Comets fate as Chicago had great patience on the power play with pressure and crisp passing. The puck slid back into to the point where center Adam Cracknell slapped a shot in passed two defenders and the goaltender for the second man-advantage goal of the game with 2:38 left in the game. After playing 17 games with the parent club St. Louis Blues and scoring no goals, Cracknell was sent to the Wolves where in five games he has scored four goals for six points.
The win gives the Wolves nine wins in the last ten games at home and inches them within 6 points of division and Western Conference leader Grand Rapids.
The Comets Joacim Eriksson allowed four goals on 3 shots suffering the loss, while Jake Allen scored his 19th win putting him one away from former Wolves goaltender Drew MacIntyre for the league lead in wins who now plays for the Toronto Marlies.
Stars of the Game
3rd Star – Chicago Wolves center Alexandre Bolduc with two assists
2nd Star – Chicago Wolves right wing Ty Rattie with a goal and two assists
1st Star – Chicago Wolves left wing Chris Porter with two goals on five shots
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