Wade Megan collected three points (G, 2A) and Tomas Hyka registered two goals, including the game-winner, as the Chicago Wolves powered past the Rockford IceHogs 6-2 in Illinois Lottery Cup competition Saturday night at Allstate Arena.
Defenseman Chris Casto netted his first goal of the season and T.J. Tynan also earned his third short-handed tally of the year. Former IceHogs player Brandon Pirri also scored for Chicago (14-12-5-2), which has stacked up 18 points in the last 10 games.
“Every day, we just want to get a little bit better,” said Wolves head coach Rocky Thompson. “We just want to continue to improve. We like our 5-on-5 game. We think our goaltending is doing a great job for us and has helped solidify our team.”
The Wolves opened scoring just 7:29 into the first frame on the power play. Megan won an offensive-zone draw and pulled the puck back to Pirri at the center point. His shot hit Rockford goaltender Matt Tomkins (0-1-0) but still found the back of the net for the 1-0 lead.
In the second period, the Wolves were in the Rockford (18-13-1-1) zone short-handed and Mackenzie MacEachern chipped a shot on Tomkins that he snapped up with his glove. Tomkins then attempted to keep the play alive but couldn’t execute and, circling back on the play, Tynan intercepted Tomkins’ glove pass and found the back of the net at 3:24.
However, just 1:01 later, Tyler Sikura caught the Wolves on a line change and lasered a shot past Kasimir Kaskisuo (6-8-1) while streaking up the right wing to cut Chicago’s lead 2-1.
Twenty-one seconds past the midway point of the period, Stefan Matteau fed Hyka for a top-of-the-crease tap-in to put Chicago up by a pair of goals.
With 1:34 left in the second session and Rockford on the power play, Darren Raddysh saucered a pass from the right offensive boards to Luke Johnson streaking up the slot. Johnson slapped the puck in with a Wolves defender on his back to get Rockford back within a goal.
The Wolves pushed their lead back to two goals at 5:27 of the third period. Following a 3-on-2 rush, Rockford had trouble clearing the crease. Casto corralled the puck and took a shot, picked up his own rebound and slipped it between Tomkins and the near-side post.
Just 1:11 later, Beau Bennett made a pass from behind the IceHogs net and Hyka redirected it in as he cut diagonally across the slot near the top of the crease for Chicago’s fifth goal.
Megan potted a top-shelf goal with at 17:53 of the third for the 6-2 victory.
Kaskisuo made 29 saves for the win while Tomkins stopped 25 shots.
The Wolves ring in the New Year at 12 p.m. on Jan. 1, 2018, against the Iowa Wild at Wells Fargo Arena. The noon start will stream on AHLLive.com.