Veteran left wing Brett Sterling netted his 238th career American Hockey League goal to snap the game’s final tie and give the Chicago Wolves a 4-3 victory over the Rockford IceHogs in the second Illinois Lottery Cup contest of the season Saturday night at Allstate Arena.
With the game-winning goal at 6:20 of the third period, Sterling entered the AHL’s top 50 all-time goal-scorers list. Defensemen Jason Garrison and Petteri Lindbohm along with center Stefan Matteau also tallied for the Wolves (5-9-3-1).
“It was a really gutty win tonight,” said Wolves head coach Rocky Thompson. “We were down there in the third period after having some momentum early. But our guys on the bench, you should have heard them. It was really good. They were positive.”
In the opening period, center Wade Megan won an offensive-zone faceoff and Teemu Pulkkinen helped the puck back to Lindbohm at the left point for a blast that found its way through a crowd for the 1-0 lead at the eight-minute mark.
At the opposite end of the ice — just 2:35 later — Rockford’s Tomas Jurco wired a shot from the point that beat Kasimir Kaskisuo (3-6-1) for the equalizer.
The Wolves regained the lead at 5:30 of the second frame when Garrison rocketed a point shot past Jean-Francois Berube (6-6-0) for the 2-1 go-ahead goal.
On the power play, Ville Pokka pulled the IceHogs (11-8-1-0) even again at 9:52 when he wristed a point through an open lane for Rockford’s second tally.
Less than four minutes into the third period, the IceHogs earned their first lead of the game as Matheson Iacopelli zipped into the Wolves zone and snapped a shot from the top of the left circle for the 3-2 score.
That lead was short-lived as 46 seconds later, the Wolves charged down ice, Paul Thompson protected the puck for a backspin pass to Matteau speeding up the slot for the tying tally.
Chicago jumped back into the lead 4-3 at 6:20 of the frame when Sterling lasered a shot from inside the left hashmarks.
Kaskisuo made 30 saves for his third win of the season while Berube turned aside 34 shots in the loss.
The Wolves wrap up a 3-in-3 weekend Sunday, Nov. 26, with their first contest of the year against the Iowa Wild. Puck drop is set for 3 p.m. at Allstate Arena and the game will be broadcast on The U Too.