The Chicago Wolves came into Saturday night having won six of their last eight games. To go along with the Wolves hot streak , they find themselves only three games out of the lead in the central division behind the Grand Rapids Griffins.
This year’s Wolves team is a lot different then last year’s team. From a new head coach in Craig Berube to the performance on the ice, the Wolves are only one win away from matching their total from last season with plenty of hockey left to play. This years squad is much younger and bring a lot of speed. And it’s the depth that has kept the team’s success afloat as well. Kenny Agostino and Ivan Barbashev, two of the Wolves main goal scorers, have spent some time with the St. Louis Blues this season. Their presence was missed but the Wolves depth kept the team winning while they were away.
Alex Friesen got the scoring going for the Wolves at 7:31 in the first period. Mackenzie MacEachmen and Scooter Vaughan picked up the assists. But it did not take the Wild too long to respond. Tyler Graovac scored his 4th of the season at 10:21 into the first period.
Both teams in the first period were unsuccessful on the powerplay. The Chicago Wolves are 6th in the AHL on the penalty kill while the Wild rank 13th.
Speaking of the penalty kill, the Wolves killed off all four penalties in the second period. Scooter Vaughan has been a staple on the unit all season long and coach Craig Berube speaks highly of him on the PK. “He will continue to be in that role for the long haul and has been a really good player for us there (on the PK),” Berube said back on February 10th after the Wolves big 7-3 win over the San Antonio Rampage.
Despite the Wild leading the shots on goal, 28-14 through two periods, the Wolves managed to keep it tied at 1.
After plenty of chances, the Wolves found the back of the net late in third period. Vince Dunn scored his 9th of the season after weaving through defenders on his way to the net. Dunn actually passed it off to LW Andrew Agozzino but Dunn crashed the net and put home the rebound, making it 2-1 Chicago. Dunn, one of many rookies on this Wolves team, leads all rookies with 30 points so far this season.
Dunn later dropped the gloves which led to multiple fights on the ice. “He got me in the face with his stick so I decided to go after him,” Dunn said after the game. But it did not stop there. Dunn heckled Wild Kurtis Gabriel in the tunnel and punches were thrown. “It was a matter of sticking up for myself, Dunn said. I said some stuff and we went after it.” And to no prevail, the cameras got it on the big screen and the crowd, and the entire Wolves bench, went crazy.
Morgan Ellis scored shortly after Dunn’s goal, his ninth of the season making it 3-1 Wolves with 3:56 left in period three. Ellis quickly added another goal to put the game out of reach. It was an empty netter and he shot it from the Wolves defensive zone.
Pheonix Copley was dominate in the Wolves 4-1 win. He made 29 saves, one being a acrobatic stop in the second period. Copley, who started in his first NHL game this season for the St. Louis Blues, improved to 14-7-3 on the season.
The Wolves and Wild face-off again tomorrow at 3pm at the Allstate Arena.