Teemu Pulkkinen and T.J. Tynan each tallied two goals to power the Chicago Wolves to their second consecutive Central Division title with a 6-4 victory over the Rockford IceHogs Friday night in Rockford.
The Illinois Lottery Cup win also locked in a first-round best-of-five Calder Cup Playoff matchup between the Wolves and IceHogs that begins Saturday, April 21, at Allstate Arena.
The Wolves opened scoring less than five minutes into the first frame. Stefan Matteau intercepted an IceHogs pass in the neutral zone and fed the puck to Kolesar, who zipped into the Rockford end and threaded a shot past Jeff Glass (15-9-2) for the 1-0 lead at 4:13.
Right at the 15-minute mark — with two Rockford (40-27-4-4) players in the penalty box — Pulkkinen rocketed a shot from the left point that sailed over Glass’ shoulder and under the crossbar for Chicago’s second goal.
Defenseman Philip Holm was serving a two-minute penalty when Tynan worked his short-handed magic. He whizzed up the right wing and snapped a shot past Glass to extend the lead 3-0 just 6:16 into the middle frame.
With 33 seconds left in the period, Rockford netted its first goal of the contest as William Pelletier was credited with the tally.
The teams combined for three goals in the first 4:10 of third-period action. Just 1:41 into the session, Pulkkinen registered his second goal of the game from the left faceoff dot as he fell to the ice.
Then just 1:05 later — with Adam Clendening serving a holding penalty — Leslie collected the Wolves’ fifth goal when he raced straight up center ice and leaned into a shot from the top of the slot. Goaltender Oscar Dansk (13-2-4) earned his second assist of the season on the play.
At 4:10 of the frame, Rockford countered on the power play. While bodies piled up in a net-front scrum at the top of Dansk’s crease, Cody Franson corralled the loose puck and chipped it in while sailing over the wreckage for the 5-2 score.
Rockford netted the next two goals — the latter with Glass on the bench for an extra attacker at with 2:24 to play — to make it a 5-4 game.
However 25 seconds later, Tynan potted an empty-net marker for the 6-4 final score.
Dansk make 32 saves for the win while Glass stopped 24 shots.
The Wolves and IceHogs wrap up their 12-game regular-season series as the Wolves hunt for another win Saturday, April 14, at Allstate Arena for their second consecutive Illinois Lottery Cup title. Puck drop is 7 p.m., and the game will be televised on CW50.