ROSEMONT, Ill. – Recent trade acquisition Brad Malone tallied back-to-back goals while rookie right wing Samuel Blais registered four points – including the game-winning goal – to help the Chicago Wolves overcome the Cleveland Monsters 7-3 Saturday at Allstate Arena.
Chicago (34-17-3-4) extended its home winning streak to a season-high seven contests. Kenny Agostino, the American Hockey League’s leading scorer, tallied three points to push his season totals to 20 goals and 46 assists.
“I thought we were dialed in right from the get-go,” said Wolves head coach Craig Berube. “Malone is a big guy who wins faceoffs and is a smart player. He’s an all-around centerman who can do a little bit of everything. He’s a valuable guy.”
The Monsters (25-24-3-4) tallied just 2:40 into the first frame on the power play. The Wolves’ Reid McNeill took a hooking penalty just 1:20 into the opening period, and Cleveland’s Markus Hannikainen seized the opportunity to shelf the puck over goaltender Jordan Binnington (11-6-4) on the game’s first shot.
Just past the midway point of the same session, Chicago tied the game when Wade Megan – keeping pace with Lehigh Valley’s Greg Carey – netted his league-leading 26th goal of the year.
Newcomer Malone wasted no time contributing to the Wolves offense. With just 3:35 to go in the first period, he put the Wolves on top 2-1 with a snap shot from the middle of the left circle.
In the second period, Malone redirected a Morgan Ellis point shot for Chicago’s third goal at 5:27.
However, just 37 seconds later, the Monsters pulled back within a goal when former Wolves forward Akim Aliu notched an unassisted marker for his first goal of the season.
Then at 11:39 of the same frame, on the rush, Alex Friesen fed Blais and his shot snuck between Brad Thiessen’s pads to make it 4-2.
With just 1:16 left on the clock in the second period, Scooter Vaughan rifled a shot for the Wolves’ fifth tally.
Chicago continued to press with 33 seconds to go. Agostino shot through a screen of Cleveland defenders to give the Wolves a 6-2 lead after two periods.
Michael Houser relieved Thiessen (2-5-1) in net for Cleveland to begin the third frame.
The Wolves pushed their lead to 7-2 when Blais checked John Ramage, grabbed the puck and passed it out to Agostino rushing into the slot for an easy goal at 7:43 of the third period.
Cleveland made the score 7-3 when Ryan Stanton found himself alone in front of the Wolves net. He lasered a clean shot over Binnington’s shoulder.
Binnington made 25 saves while Houser and Thiessen combined for 29 saves on 36 shots.
The Wolves return to action on Sunday (March 5) at Allstate Arena for their final contest of the season with the Manitoba Moose. The game will be broadcast on CW50 and is set to begin at 3 p.m. For ticket information or complete 2016-17 game and broadcast schedules, visit ChicagoWolves.com.