ROSEMONT, Ill. – The Chicago Wolves reeled off four goals in the opening 22 minutes to set the tone for a 7-3 triumph over the Rockford IceHogs on Saturday night in Illinois Lottery cup action at Allstate Arena.
Forwards Brett Sterling (G, 2A), Ivan Barbashev (G, 2A) and Jordan Caron (3A) notched 3 points apiece while defensemen Brad Hunt and Morgan Ellis and forwards Landon Ferraro, Kenny Agostino and Wade Megan also scored goals for the Wolves (3-4-0-0). Goaltender Pheonix Copley rejected 26 shots to earn the win.
“I liked the way we played a team game, the way we were assertive and moved the puck,” said Wolves head coach Craig Berube. “We checked really well tonight.”
Rockford (4-3-0-0) opened the scoring 3:38 into the game as the IceHogs took advantage of a 4-on-2 rush. Spencer Abbott slid a pass across the slot to defenseman Erik Gustafsson for a quick blast from the right circle.
The Wolves didn’t take long to even the score. Caron fought to work the puck free along the boards in the defensive zone and fed it ahead to Barbashev, who nudged the puck to Hunt at the blue line. Hunt skated into the right circle and lifted a wrister over Rockford goaltender Mac Carruth at 5:09 of the first.
Chicago seized the lead on Ferraro’s goal at 12:10 of the first. Agostino drove into the slot and backhanded a nifty pass to Ferraro, who collected it just outside the crease and chipped it over Carruth to give the Wolves a 2-1 edge.
The Wolves produced two goals in the opening 1:43 of the second period to force Rockford to change goaltenders. Agostino blasted a shot from above the right circle for a power-play goal at 0:54, then Barbashev tapped home a Caron rebound at 1:43 to push Chicago’s lead to 4-1.
Chicago delivered another power-play goal with 1:24 left in the second period to take a 5-1 advantage. After a mad scramble near the Rockford goal, the puck stopped in the crease and Megan punched it across the goal line.
Rockford pulled within 5-3 on goals by Tanner Kero and Gustafsson in the first 6:50 of the third period, but the Wolves answered with power-play goals by Sterling and Ellis. Chicago finished with 4 power-play goals in seven opportunities.
Carruth (1-2-0) stopped 8 of 12 shots before being lifted in favor of Lars Johansson at 1:43 of the second. Johansson notched 10 saves before Carruth (16 saves) returned for the third period.
The Wolves host the Cleveland Monsters at 4 p.m. Sunday with Pokémon GO Day activities starting at 3 p.m. To arrange your group outing, visit ChicagoWolves.com or call 1-800-THE-WOLVES.