ROSEMONT, Ill. – Sonny Milano registered three assists while Ryan Craig collected the game-winning goal and an assist to lead the Cleveland Monsters to a 5-2 victory against the Chicago Wolves Saturday night at Allstate Arena.
Wade Megan produced his league-leading 31st goal and 19-year-old rookie center Tage Thompson scored his first professional goal for the Wolves (39-19-7-5). However, the Monsters scored four consecutive goals between those markers to take control.
The Wolves finished the regular-season series against the Monsters with a 4-4-2-2 record. Five of the contests were decided by one goal and four games needed extra time. Alas, Chicago lost all four of those tilts.
“We didn’t execute very well,” said Wolves head coach Craig Berube. “The effort was there, but it wasn’t a clean game.”
At 8:46 of the first frame, Andrew Agozzino carried the puck up the right wing just inside the Monsters zone. He dished a pass to Megan rushing through the slot for an easy wrist shot that found its way behind Anton Forsberg (24-16-3) for the 1-0 lead.
However, Chicago could not hold off Cleveland. With less than 30 seconds left in the first period, Alex Broadhurst fed a pass from the top of the right circle to Sam Vigneault standing on just to the left of the crease. Vigneault handled the puck and poked it between Jordan Binnington’s pads to tie the game 1-1.
In the second session, Oleg Yevenko sprung Craig up the left boards into the neutral zone. Craig then lasered a pass to Justin Scott just onside and he got off a quick shot for the 2-1 lead at 8:04.
Less than two minutes later – with Agozzino serving a roughing penalty – Cleveland’s T.J. Tynan peeled off the right-wing boards at the offensive hashmarks and slipped a pass to Craig standing at the top of the crease. Craig handled the puck and chipped a shot past Binnington (14-7-8) to push the Monsters’ lead to 3-1.
Cleveland continued its run in the third period as Zac Dalpe snapped the puck behind Binnington at just 1:31 into the frame to extend the Monsters’ lead to 4-1.
However, 3:12 later, the Wolves took advantage of a failed zone entry by Cleveland and Ty Loney – with Thompson in tow – led the rush back into the Monsters zone. Loney held up near the center of the right circle and sent a pass through the slot to Thompson. Thompson sniped a one-time shot from his knee into the back of the net to pull Chicago within two goals.
Cleveland quickly regained its three-goal lead at 9:01 when Vigneault launched the initial shot from inside the left circle and Markus Hannikainen popped in the rebound chance from the top of the crease.
Though Chicago lost, it remains within one point of the Central Division-leading Grand Rapids Griffins, who dropped a 4-1 decision to the Rockford IceHogs.
The Wolves continue a four-game homestand with a 4 p.m. contest – airing on The U Too – against the Charlotte Checkers on Sunday (April 2). The first 2,500 fans will receive a Brett Sterling bobblehead courtesy of CW50. For more information about upcoming Wolves home games or the 2017 Calder Cup Playoff race, visit ChicagoWolves.com.