CLEVELAND – Oliver Bjorkstrand scored in the ninth round of the shootout to push the Cleveland Monsters past the Chicago Wolves 3-2 Saturday night at Quicken Loans Arena in the Wolves’ final game before the AHL All-Star Break.
The Wolves (25-15-3-3) jumped out to a 2-0 advantage in the opening frame with goals from former Monster Andrew Agozzino and defenseman Morgan Ellis. However, Cleveland (20-17-1-3) evened the game 2-2 in the second session.
In his first game since being returned on loan to Chicago from the NHL earlier this week, Pheonix Copley (11-4-3) turned aside 30 shots through 65 minutes of play and four of nine skaters in the shootout.
The Wolves leaped into the lead at 4:08 of the first period. Magnus Paajarvi led the offensive rush and fed Ellis, who was trailing on the play. From the hash marks in the slot, Ellis wired a chance past Cleveland netminder Joonas Korpisalo (6-5-2) for the 1-0 lead.
At 14:21 of the same stanza, Chicago doubled its lead when Agozzino, quarterbacking the 5-on-3 power play, took a one-timer from the top of the slot.
In the second period, the Monsters cut the Wolves’ lead to 2-1 just 2:14 into the frame when Justin Scott buried a chance.
Chicago rookie Vince Dunn took his third penalty of the game – a delay of game – in the final three minutes of play in the second period, and Cleveland capitalized when captain Ryan Craig netted the game-tying marker at 18:16.
In the scoreless third period, Korpisalo turned aside 10 Chicago shots and Copley stopped 7 Monsters chances. Each netminder made three saves in the overtime.
During the shootout, the teams matched each other round for round until Bjorkstrand sailed a shot past Copley on the blocker side to start the ninth round. Veteran Brett Sterling tried to keep the shootout going but his chance rolled up Korpisalo’s right pad and arm before settling on top of the net.
Korpisalo made 25 saves through 65 minutes of play and stopped five of nine skaters in the shootout for the victory.
Following the AHL All-Star break, the Wolves return to action at Allstate Arena for a pair of Central Division contests. First, the Central Division-leading Grand Rapids Griffins visit Allstate on Friday, Feb. 3. Puck drop is 7 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on The U Too.
On Saturday, Feb. 4, the Rockford IceHogs come to Rosemont for an Illinois Lottery Cup tilt at 7 p.m. The game will air on CW50. For ticket information or complete 2016-17 game and broadcast schedules, visit ChicagoWolves.com.