The Chicago Wolves took over first place in the AHL’s Central Division with a 1-0 victory over the Rockford IceHogs in Illinois Lottery Cup action on Tuesday night at Allstate Arena.
Goaltender Max Lagace posted 27 saves for his first shutout of the season while forward Brooks Macek scored the difference-maker for Chicago (32-17-5-1), which swept its five-game homestand to climb over Grand Rapids for first in the Central.
“It was a huge win for our team,” said Wolves head coach Rocky Thompson. “And it was a huge feather in Max’s cap because he earned it and he deserved it.”
The win, which tied this season’s Illinois Lottery Cup series 5-5 with two games remaining, also marked the second time in the team’s 25-year history that the Wolves have swept a five-game homestand. In 2002-03, John Anderson’s team posted a five-game sweep from March 15-26.
Despite outshooting the Wolves 27-16, Rockford (26-23-3-6) couldn’t capitalize. IceHogs goaltender Collin Delia (7-6-4) saved 15 of 16 shots.
After a scoreless first period, Macek broke the stalemate with his 23rd goal of the year at the 6:26 mark of the second frame. Defenseman Zac Leslie intercepted a Rockford pass through the neutral zone and sent a quick pass between two IceHogs to center Gage Quinney.
Quinney hit Daniel Carr on the tape as he skated up ice in a 2-on-1 with Macek. Carr drew the defensemen and Delia to him before dishing a pass to Macek, who skated down the right wing and was all alone at the back door.
The Wolves hit the road for four games before returning to Allstate Arena on Saturday, March 9, to face the Iowa Wild on American Girl Night.