The Wolves played their last game before Saturday on March 14 thanks to COVID-19 related issues delaying their two games against the Grand Rapids Griffins. Despite the long lay-off, the Wolves responded well, sweeping both games of their home-and-home series with the IceHogs on Saturday and Sunday.
The pair of wins improved the Wolves’ record to 12-2-0-1 on the season. The Wolves have been the most dominant team in the AHL so far this season, with only the former Wolves, the Henderson Silver Knights, and the Laval Rocket keeping pace with the Wolves in the standings.
Both games had plenty of highlights for both sides, with new additions playing and staples having strong performances.
Wolves 6 IceHogs 3
The Wolves came out hot on Saturday night, wasting little time getting on the board. Chicago scored two goals in the first minute of the game, as David Cotton and Max Lajoie cashed in their fourth and third goals of the season, respectively.
Before closing the first period, David Cotton added his second goal of the period to give the Wolves a three-goal lead entering the first intermission.
The teams traded goals in the second period, with Dominik Bokk and Ryan Suzuki each scoring their fourth goals of the season and Cody Franson and Evan Barratt adding tallies for the visitors. Despite some response from the ‘Hogs, the Wolves took a 5-2 lead into the second intermission after a solid second period.
Reese Johnson scored the final IceHogs goal just before the halfway mark of the third period. However, his goal was all for naught, as Tanner Jeannot’s sixth of the season just 51 seconds into the period effectively iced the game for the Wolves.
David Cotton was named first start of the game with his two-goal performance. Tanner Jeannot added a goal and two assists and Tommy Novak added three apples of his own in the 6-3 win.
Wolves 5 IceHogs 4
Sunday’s contest proved to be a much closer affair than Saturday. Returning home, the IceHogs put up quite the fight against the powerhouse Wolves.
The IceHogs opened the scoring in Sunday’s matinee matchup, with Dylan McLaughlin picking up his third goal of the season. The power play tally came late in the first period, giving the IceHogs life with the first intermission looming. However, Tanner Jeannot scored an unassisted goal just 21 seconds before the intermission. Both teams entered the break tied at one.
The Wolves opened the second period scoring with Sean Malone’s first goal of the season. The IceHogs found a way to answer with two goals of their own in under four minutes. Despite the flurry of Rockford goals, the Wolves added two more to close the period with a one-goal lead.
Sunday’s third period saw IceHogs forward Josiah Slavin score his first professional goal in his AHL debut. Slavin’s collegiate season at Colorado College concluded in March, allowing him to sign with the IceHogs.
His goal early in the third tied the game for the IceHogs. However, Jamieson Rees’ second goal of the day, and fifth of the season, at the 4:41 mark gave the Wolves a lead they would not relinquish.
The Wolves win also meant a debut win for goaltender Devin Cooley, who was re-called to replace Beck Warm on the roster.
The weekend sweep was a huge momentum boost for the Wolves, who went two weeks without playing a game. Both the Wolves’ matchups with the Grand Rapids Griffins were rescheduled due to some COVID-19 issues. Now, the Wolves sit firmly atop the Central Division, with an excellent chance to make noise in AHL playoffs, if there are any in 2021.
The weekend was filled with great performances from Wolves players. Tanner Jeannot, Jamieson Rees, and Ryan Suzuki are just a few of the names who had strong performances against the IceHogs. Jeannot added four points to his team-leading 17, Rees added two goals, including the game winner on Sunday, and Suzuki scored a goal in each game of the weekend series.
The Wolves have quite the month of April ahead, playing 12 games over the course of the month. However, only four of those games will be at Triphahn Ice Arena, meaning the Wolves have to continue their road success in order to remain atop the division standings.
What’s On Tap Next?
The Wolves return to action on April 1 against the Grand Rapids Griffins. Puck drop is scheduled for 2:00 PM CDT at Triphahn Ice Arena. The Wolves will face the Griffins for the first time February 28 due to their two March matchups being rescheduled.