The Chicago Wolves faced the Lake Erie Monsters at Allstate Arena. Coming into the series both teams had split the series at one game apiece. The Monsters had won three games in a row coming into the game. Meanwhile the Wolves had won six of their last 10 games. The game proved to be a real battle for both teams as soon as the puck was dropped.
The Wolves struck first when left wing Sergey Andronov found the back of the net. That put an end to Lake Erie goalie Sami Aittokallio’s shutout streak of two games. Then the Monsters regrouped and responded when left wing David van der Gulik put a wrist shot in the back of the net. Then just over a minute later Van der Gulik found the back of the net once again. Later in the first period Monsters defenseman Stefan Elliott squeezed the puck past Wolves goalie Jake Allen for another score. The Monsters scored three unanswered goals in the first period to make the score 3-1 at the first intermission.
When the second period began, Wolves defenseman Joel Edmundson scored on a beautiful backhand pass by forward Nathan Longpre. This cut the Monsters lead to one. Then four minutes later, defenseman Doug Janik scored on a slap shot from the blue line to tie the game. But toward the end of the second period the Wolves had a bad turnover in their own zone. Jake Allen was caught outside the crease and Monsters left wing Michael Schumacher shot the puck himself for an easy goal. This put the Monsters up 4-3 at the second intermission.
In the middle of the second period, Allen was hit in eye with a hockey stick by Monsters left wing Andrew Agozzino. Agozzino’s actions resulted in a double minor for high-sticking. Thankfully Allen was able to continue playing the game without missing a shift. When asked about the hit after the game Allen called it a “freak accident.” Later when asked about the thought of being pulled he said “I didn’t fear that coach would pull me and it’s my net.”
There wasn’t a whole lot of action in the beginning of the third period as it was a defensive battle early. But 14 minutes into the third Monsters right wing Guillaume Desbiens put a shot in just above Allen’s shoulder. This extended Lake Erie’s lead by two, but the Wolves still had one more rally left in them. Two minutes later Wolves center Keith Aucoin scored to cut the deficit to one. With just two minutes left in regulation right wing Michael Davies slipped the puck past Aittokallio to tie the game. In five minutes of overtime both teams couldn’t score. So the game was to going to be decided in a shootout.
The Monsters started the shootout first with center Joey Hishon and his shot was turned away by Allen. Then it was the Wolves turn to take a shot and they used right wing Michael Davies, but his shot was turned away by Aittokallio. Then van der Gulik of Lake Erie took his turn but his shot was turned aside once again by Allen.
The Wolves took their turn in round two of the shootout using their right wing and points leader Ty Rattie. Rattie was able to slip the puck past Aittokallio for the first point in the shootout. Needing a score to continue the shootout, the Monsters used center Colin Smith whose shot was again saved by Allen. In the Wolves turn in round three they decided to use center Keith Aucoin. Aucoin couldn’t capitalize on his opportunity in the shootout as the puck was covered up by Aittokallio.
Knowing very well that the Monsters still needed a goal to tie the shootout they put their faith in defenseman Stefan Elliott. But despite getting a good shot off, Allen made a diving save of the shot and turned it aside. The Wolves just needed one more goal in the shootout to take the victory in front of the home crowd. The Wolves used center Adam Cracknell in the final round of the shootout. Cracknell was able to come through for the Wolves and they won 6-5 in a shoot out.
After the game Chicago Wolves head coach John Anderson equally praised Allen for his performance behind the net. He said “He made a lot of big saves and was just excellent tonight. It was not his first rodeo.” When asked about removing Allen due to the cut on his eye Anderson said “I am not a puller. I had full confidence in him all game long. I would only pull him if he was affected mentally or he had to start the next night.” He later said “It’s not worth losing an eye for a win.” When asked about the playoff push Anderson said “Our push started in January and that the push starts early. I believe in this team and we will make it and try to get the highest seed possible.”
Despite the mistakes his teammates made during the game, Allen praised them for their performance. He said “They made up for their mistakes and it was a great performance to get us the win.” When asked about his own individual performance coming up with those big saves he simply said “It’s my job.”
With 11 games remaining until the end of the regular season the Wolves currently sit in fourth place in the Western Conference. They also are currently in the fourth seed in conference. They are just five points away from clinching a spot in the Calder Cup playoffs.