Special teams powered the IceHogs to a 3-2 Illinois Lottery Cup victory over the Chicago Wolves Saturday night at Allstate Arena.
Captains Brandon Pirri and Paul Thompson scored as the Wolves’ all-time record on St. Patrick’s Day moved to 7-5-1-0. Rockford used one power-play goal and one short-handed goal to pick up the win.
“I was disappointed in our special teams entirely tonight,” said Wolves head coach Rocky Thompson. “I thought we got out-competed on the power play — got outworked.”
Less than five minutes into the contest, the Wolves (33-20-7-2) opened scoring when T.J. Tynan executed a clean zone entry on the right wing. He put the puck on net and after a scramble it came out to Keegan Kolesar on the left wall. He segued the puck over to Tynan at the top of the slot and he pushed the pass along to Pirri in his usual spot in the middle of the right-side circle for the 1-0 lead.
In the middle frame, Rockford (32-24-4-4) tied the game with 2:07 left in the session. Cycling the puck on the power play, Henrik Samuelsson teed up Matheson Iacopelli, who was alone in the slot and he sent a shot right into the top left corner for the 1-1 equalizer.
Skating short-handed, Tyler Sikura secured the go-ahead for the IceHogs just 4:11 into the third period. Goaltender Oscar Dansk (7-1-2) left his crease to chase down the loose puck near in the right circle — he whiffed on the clear and Sikura potted the puck into the wide-open net.
Two minutes, 19 seconds later, Anthony Louis increased Rockford’s lead to 3-1 with a goal from the top of the left circle.
At 8:41 of the third, Thompson pulled Chicago back within a goal, 3-2. Defenseman Jake Bischoff sailed a shot into the net-front crowd and it pinballed around before Thompson poked it past Jeff Glass (12-7-2).
Dansk made 33 saves but suffered his first regulation loss since retuning to the Wolves on Jan. 24. Glass stopped 27 of 29 shots in the win.
The Wolves return to action on Sunday, March 18, as they host the Iowa Wild and don their St. Patrick’s Day jerseys for the final time. Puck drop is set for 3 p.m. and the game will be televised on CW50.