CHICAGO – Head Coach John Anderson hopes to bring back the winning tradition back to the Chicago Wolves that he has seen in earning four league championships in eleven seasons. The team comes home for its 20th home opener with high expectations and a new parent club in that of the St. Louis Blues. And the Anderson lead team did not disappoint in winning a tough and physical battle against the San Antonio Rampage by the score of 3-1.
“Well, wins are always awesome. We were playing a good team in San Antonio,” said Anderson. “They are good hockey team and I know that every time we are going to play them it is going to be very difficult to win.”
How did he feel about coming back to Chicago? “I never left here, I’ve always lived here so coming back here is pretty easy. All the people I work with are still here. It is a comfortable fit.”
The game started off pretty even going shot for shot but the Wolves had plenty of quality shots in the opening stanza but Ramage starting goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris stood to task in stopping a flurry of shots that should’ve went in. Coach Anderson didn’t give all the credit to Morris, “I thought this team would have more natural scorers but you know it is still early and the ice wasn’t that good. it was bouncing around a little bit just because it is so warm out. This is why it is so very hard for our guys. You know that they are working their (butt off) getting better than that. I know that it is going to get better as it cools down a bit and I think that will lend to our scoring.”
But early in the second period the Wolves got the first goal of the season on the power play. Right wing Mark Mancari, who is doing his second tour with the Wolves, took a shot wide to the left of Grumet-Morris. Left wing Dmitrij Jaskin then took the puck around spinning the goaltender and fired a shot that was saved but was sitting between the pads of a prone Grumet-Morris allowing center Corey Locke to easily sweep the puck on in.
With 6:59 in the Wolves added to the lead as right wing Ty Rattie scored on a deflected shot from defenseman Evan Oberg. Rattie, who was the St. Louis Blues first selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, was asked about his first professional goal, “Awesome, first pro goal, it is the coolest thing ever and one of the best feelings ever. I got some family here too which is cool. Great overall game, and it is a bonus that I got my first one.”
But just under a minute later the Rampage cut the lead in half as the fore-checking contributed to the goal as right wing Jed Ortmeyer battled the puck along the boards and popping it out to traffic between center Drew Shore allowing right wing Bobby Butler to take a shot on Jake Allen but allowing a rebound back to Ortmeyer giving him a backhand shot that skipped in on Jake Allen.
Chicago took a two goal lead and made it last in the third as forward Nathan Longpre, who also returns to the Wolves for another tour, broke up a play in their defensive zone allowing a breakaway pass to Mancari who had all the time in the world to deke in a shot on Grumet-Morris 1:22 in.
With the goal, Mancari earned the game First Star.
Grumet-Morris suffered the loss saving 29 shots by the Wolves while Allen moves to 2-0 in the season facing a total of 31 shots and allowing one. His effort earned him the games Second Star.
And for the Third Star of the game, it goes to Rattie with his first professional goal. So how nervous was he in his first home game, “The nerves were a little bit crazy. I think that the first shift you rather to be cautious and not give up anything but after that we have such great vets to keep us calm and obviously John Anderson behind the bench so we calm down and you get more bounces to the puck and we go from there.
Anderson had much praise for the right winger, “He got double shifted in the third period. I’m trying to get him acclimated, and he seems to really respond with his chances in the night. He blocked a shot and doing a lot of things and I know he is going to get better.”
Rattie returned the favor when asked about the “Triple A” veteran coaching staff of John Anderson, Dave Allison, and Scott Allen, “Unbelievable, I think you can’t ask for much for being a first-year pro, and them showing you so much. You just got to be a sponge and soak it all up. I’m excited to be here, I’m happy to be here and I am learning a lot so far.”