ROLLING MEADOWS, Ill. – The Chicago Wolves downed the Grand Rapids Griffins 5-1 during preseason action at West Meadows Ice Arena. Danny Kristo, Wade Megan and Gus Young each tallied a goal and an assist, and goaltender Pheonix Copley turned aside 19 shots for the victory.
“I just thought it was 60 minutes of what we wanted as coaches,” said Wolves head coach Craig Berube. “I think they did a lot of things that we worked on in practice. We were being aggressive and I thought we moved the puck well tonight.”
The first half of the opening period was scoreless, though the Wolves had a power-play opportunity under two minutes into the game and a number of good scoring chances. At 11:35 of the frame, Andrew Agozzino fed Megan across the slot on the rush to open scoring. Chicago continued to create chances but could not capitalize. The Griffins’ best opportunities came on two power plays, but Copley kept them off the scoresheet, stopping all eight shots he faced.
The opening 22 seconds of the middle frame weren’t enough time for Grand Rapids to convert with the extra man. But at the 3:51 mark, the puck bounced out from behind Chicago’s net and right to Shawn Szydlowski alone out front to knot the game 1-1. The Griffins sustained pressure until a fight between Gabriel Beaupre and Jared Nightingale gave the Wolves some spark. On the power play, Young slapped the puck in from the right side of the net for the go-ahead marker at 7:27.
Chicago continued to carry momentum and went up by a pair of goals when Nightingale rifled a point shot that deflected off a Griffin and past goaltender Cal Heeter. The final three minutes of the stanza featured end-to-end action with the teams trading scoring chances.
The Wolves extended their lead early in the first five minutes of the final frame when Kristo carried the puck out of the corner and slipped it past Heeter. Though Grand Rapids had some quality chances, Chicago kept pressuring and it paid off when Tommy Vannelli netted the fifth marker at 11:58. Grand Rapids had two more power plays in the latter half of the period but could not find the back of the net. The Griffins were 0-for-4 on the man advantage, while the Wolves notched two power-play tallies.
Chicago finishes its preseason schedule on Saturday at the Triphahn Ice Arena in Hoffman Estates with a game against the Milwaukee Admirals. Tickets are $8 and available at the door. Puck drop is slated for 7 p.m.
The Wolves open the 81st AHL regular season on the road Friday, Oct. 14, in Grand Rapids. Chicago returns home the following night for the back end of a home-and-home series with the Griffins, and its first game of the 2016-17 season at Allstate Arena. Join the team in celebrating its 23rd season with a free tailgate party in the arena’s West Lot from 4 to 6 p.m. To purchase tickets or get more information about the Wolves’ home opener, visit ChicagoWolves.com or call 1-800-THE-WOLVES.