The Chicago Wolves opened their brief preseason schedule with a 4-3 victory over the Rockford IceHogs on Friday night before a full house at Triphahn Ice Arena.
Brett Sterling’s late second-period goal held up as the game-winner for the Wolves, who also received goals from forwards Josh McDonald, Nelson Gadoury and Travis Ewanyk.
Rockford opened the scoring on center Luke Johnson’s power-play goal 17:09 into the first period. The Wolves needed just eight seconds to answer as McDonald beat Rockford goaltender Collin Delia with an assist from center Stephen MacAulay.
The IceHogs took a 2-1 lead with Matheson Iacopelli’s goal at 3:19 of the second, but the Wolves reacted swiftly again. Gadoury pulled the Wolves even at 5:28 with a one-timer set up by McDonald’s threaded cross-slot pass.
The Wolves seized their first lead on Ewanyk’s goal 10:43 into the second period. Sterling, the franchise’s No. 2 all-time goal-scorer, pushed Chicago’s advantage to 4-2 with a goal at 18:23 of the second.
Rockford’s Matthew Highmore received credit for a goal when he kicked home a rebound at 8:09 of the third, but the IceHogs couldn’t get any closer.
Wolves goaltender Oscar Dansk stopped 7 of 9 shots in the first two periods to pick up the win. C.J. Motte rejected 15 shots in the third.
Rockford’s Delia surrendered four goals in the opening 40 minutes before giving way to Matt Tomkins (6 saves) for the final period.
The Wolves play their second and final exhibition game at 6 p.m. Saturday against the Milwaukee Admirals at UWM Panther Arena.
Chicago hosts its 24th home opener on Saturday, Oct. 14, versus the Ontario Reign. The Wolves invite everyone to attend their free tailgate party from 4 to 6 p.m. in Allstate Arena’s West Lot. To find the best ticket deals, visit ChicagoWolves.com or call 1-800-THE-WOLVES.