ROSEMONT, Ill. – Goaltender Jordan Binnington made 28 saves and Kenny Agostino netted two goals to pace the Chicago Wolves to a 3-1 Illinois Lottery Cup victory over the Rockford IceHogs on Sunday evening at Allstate Arena.
The victory – coupled with the Grand Rapids Griffins’ 4-3 shootout loss to the Cleveland Monsters – gave the Wolves a two-point lead (96-94) on the Griffs for the Central Division title with three games remaining for both clubs.
“We were pretty solid,” said Wolves head coach Craig Berube. “‘Binner’ played well. We did what we had to do. This time of year, it’s a grind every game.”
Chicago (42-19-7-5) opened scoring less than five minutes into the first frame when Agostino chopped the puck out of the defensive zone and then chased it down to the left faceoff dot in the offensive end. He slid the puck along the boards behind the Rockford net to Andrew Agozzino, who popped it out front to Wade Megan and Agostino. Agostino slapped in the second chance for the 1-0 lead.
Rockford (25-36-9-3) countered at 14:15 when Matheson Iacopelli and Michael Latta had a 2-on-1 rush up ice. Iacopelli took the first shot from near the right faceoff dot that Binnington saved, but the rebound chance came right back to him. He flipped the puck to Latta in the slot near the same-side hashmarks for a shot that he wired right into the top left corner over Binnington’s shoulder.
Samuel Blais put the Wolves back in front, 2-1, just 2:43 later when he tipped a Kevin Tansey point shot behind IceHogs goaltender Jeff Glass (9-11-2).
After nearly two periods of scoreless play, the IceHogs pulled Glass for the extra attacker with 3:30 to play. Chicago was able to take advantage as Agozzino and James Wisniewski pumped the puck out of the Wolves’ end to Agostino skating up the right wing for an easy empty-net marker.
The victory marked the first in five games for Binnington (15-7-8) while Glass made 31 saves in the loss.
The Wolves begin their final three games of the regular season on Thursday (April 13) with the first of two games against the Iowa Wild at Wells Fargo Arena. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m., and the game will stream on AHLLive.com. Chicago and Iowa are again in action on Friday (April 14) for a 7 p.m. game that will air on The U Too in the Chicago area.
Saturday (April 15) is Chicago’s regular-season finale against the Charlotte Checkers at Allstate Arena as the Wolves host their annual First Responders Night, presented by Turtle Wax. Beginning at 5:30 p.m., fans can participate in the Touch-A-Truck event and the first 3,500 fans into the building receive a drawstring backpack courtesy of Turtle Wax. For more information about the regular-season finale or the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs, visit ChicagoWolves.com.