Forward Tomas Hyka notched a hat trick to lead the Chicago Wolves to a 6-3 victory over the Tucson Roadrunners on Friday night at the Tucson Convention Center Arena.
The win enabled the Wolves to vault over the Iowa Wild and regain first place in the AHL’s Central Division.
Hyka’s hat trick was the fifth of the season for Chicago (22-12-3-1) while forwards Daniel Carr and T.J. Tynan and defenseman Griffin Reinhart each added a goal for the Wolves. Goaltender Oscar Dansk (13-6-2-1) made 18 saves in the win.
Forwards Lane Pederson, Nick Merkley and Tyler Steenbergen scored goals for Tucson (19-10-3-1) while Hunter Miska (8-6-4-0) saved 20 of 22 shots in relief.
Prior to puck drop, Tucson had not give up a first-period goal in its last four games, but the Wolves surged to a 4-0 lead before the first intermission.
Forward Brooks Macek battled along the boards just inside the Tucson zone, winning the puck to linemate Gage Quinney just above the circle. All eyes were on Quinney, allowing Carr to camp out at the back door and tap in a quick pass from Quinney at the 7:03 mark.
Just eight seconds later the Wolves were up 2-0 after forward Curtis McKenzie picked a Tucson player’s pocket and dished a pass to Hyka, who deked around starting goaltender Calvin Pickard and scored at 7:11.
Tynan scored his goal at 9:40, tipping a shot from defenseman Jake Bischoff and prompting Tucson to bring goaltender Hunter Miska in for Pickard, who finished the night with four saves.
The Wolves pushed the lead to 4-0 when, during a battle in Tucson’s right corner, the puck slipped out to Carr on the goal line. Carr snuck a pass around the lone defenseman up to Reinhart alone in the slot and he popped the puck over Miska’s right shoulder.
Pederson scored the only goal in the second period, capitalizing at 16:28 from the high slot to make it a 4-1 game.
Merkley cut the Wolves’ lead to two at the 2:21 point of the third and Steenbergen scored at 7:04 on a quick shot off a turnover to close the gap to 4-3.
Hyka quickly answered with his second of the night at 8:23 on the Wolves’ first man-advantage. The Wolves’ puck movement kept Miska moving, so when a rebound landed right on Hyka’s tape in the slot, all he had to do was shoot it between Miska’s pads.
Hyka put the game out of reach with an empty-net goal at 18:45, sealing his hat trick and the Wolves’ victory.
The Wolves face Arizona again at 8 p.m. Saturday in a game being streamed for free on AHLTV at TheAHL.com/AHLTV. Chicago returns to Allstate Arena on Wednesday, Jan. 16, to face the Grand Rapids Griffins on a Craft Beer Arena Crawl night.