ROSEMONT, Ill. – Sixteen of eighteen skaters registered at least one point as the Chicago Wolves scorched the Rockford IceHogs, 7-2, Friday night at Allstate Arena. With the victory, Chicago pushed its win streak to seven games for the first time since March 21-April 2, 2015.
Andrew Agozzino and Magnus Paajarvi each collected a goal and an assist for the Wolves (20-11-3-2) while the American Hockey League’s leading scorer, Kenny Agostino, extended his point streak to nine games with a third-period assist.
Forwards Ivan Barbashev, Samuel Blais, Conner Bleackley, Alex Friesen and Mackenzie MacEachern all scored as Chicago scored four third-period goals to assure the victory. Pheonix Copley (9-4-2) stopped 38 of 40 shots, matching a team season-high in saves.
“Copley was the player of the game,” said Wolves head coach Craig Berube. “He kept us in the game for two periods. We started to play our game in the third, going north toward the goal.”
The teams traded chances through the first half of the opening period. Rockford (11-18-2-3) got on the board first at 13:34 when a Robin Norell shot from near the half wall hit Tyler Motte camped in front of Copley for the 1-0 lead.
However, the Wolves came back on the power play just over three minutes later when Blais weaved through the IceHogs defenders in the slot and snapped a shot over Rockford goaltender Lars Johansson’s shoulder to knot the game, 1-1.
Chicago took the lead just 1:14 later when Morgan Ellis blasted a chance from the right point and Friesen poked in the rebound for his first goal of the season.
In the second period, Motte won an offensive-zone faceoff and the puck slid to Nick Schmaltz lined up on the slot side of the circle. He chipped the puck past Copley for the equalizing tally at 12:38.
The Wolves answered right back as Ellis shot the puck on net from the right offensive wall. Standing in front of the net, Bleackley redirected the puck past Johansson (7-11-1) for his first professional goal and the 3-2 go-ahead marker.
In the dying seconds of the middle frame, Schmaltz was awarded a penalty shot which Copley stopped to keep the Wolves’ lead in tact for the third frame.
Just 2:24 into the third period, Chicago extended its lead to 4-2. Wade Megan led the rush and took the initial shot from near the middle of the left circle. Appearing in his first game since Nov. 22, Paajarvi wrangled the rebound in the opposite circle for the Wolves’ fourth marker.
At 7:09, Paajarvi narrowly stayed onside, catching a pass flipped from Chicago’s side of center by Jordan Schmaltz. He then dropped a between-the-skates pass to Mackenzie MacEachern rushing up the left wing for a shot that found the back of the net.
Agozzino netted his ninth goal of the season on a cross-slot drop pass from rookie blueliner Vince Dunn at 9:30 of the final frame.
Later, Agozzino stole the puck off a Rockford player at the Wolves blue line and rushed up ice with Barbashev. He zipped a pass through the slot to Barbashev for an easy tap-in to push the Wolves’ lead to five goals.
Johansson turned aside 19 saves in the loss.
The Wolves return to action Saturday (Jan. 7) for game two of a three-in-three weekend against the Charlotte Checkers at Allstate Arena. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m., and the game will be broadcast live on CW50 in the Chicago area. For ticket information or complete 2016-17 game and broadcast schedules, visit ChicagoWolves.com.
During that contest, Chicago will don its latest specialty jerseys – red and white Animal Adoption Awareness sweaters – for the first of three home games in January. The uniforms are part of the Wolves’ ongoing efforts to raise awareness for animal adoption in the Chicago area. The jerseys will be available through various raffles and auctions beginning Saturday. For more information about the initiative or the fundraisers, visit ChicagoWolvesStore.com.