The Chicago Wolves scored the first three goals and held off a late rally to eliminate the Manitoba Moose from playoff contention with a 4-2 victory on Saturday night at Allstate Arena.
Forwards Tye McGinn, Cody Glass and Keegan Kolesar and rookie defenseman Nic Hague each scored a goal for Chicago (44-21-6-4) while goaltender Oscar Dansk (27-9-4) stopped a season-high 39 shots in the victory.
“We had a tough travel day today,” said Wolves head coach Rocky Thompson. “Things didn’t work out with our flight (from Des Moines), so guys had to dig deep. The rest wasn’t there for us, but we grinded it out. Good goaltending today allowed us to have this opportunity to get a big win.”
The Central Division champions won’t learn their first-round opponent until Sunday night – the Wolves will face Grand Rapids or Milwaukee — but they clinched their home dates for the best-of-five Central Division semifinals: The Wolves host Game 1 at 7 p.m. Friday, April 19, and Game 2 at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 20. Then, if necessary, the Wolves host Game 5 at 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 28.
Cameron Schilling and Logan Shaw scored second-period goals for Manitoba (38-30-5-2) while netminder Mikhail Berdin (12-8-3) saved 18 of the 21 shots he faced.
McGinn opened the scoring late in the first period to give the Wolves a 1-0 lead going into the first intermission. Center T.J. Tynan battled in the Manitoba corner and won the puck out to McGinn at the left circle. McGinn ripped a shot and beat Berdin between the legs at 16:43 for his ninth goal in the last 17 games.
Hague doubled the lead 3:39 into the second period, one-timing a shot from the point that beat Berdin cleanly over his blocker.
Glass scored his first career game-winning goal at the 2:15 mark of the third period to give the Wolves a 3-0 lead. Berdin sprawled for a loose puck in front of his net, but Glass picked it up as he skated past and backhanded it into the net.
Schilling broke through for Manitoba at 11:49 on a 4-on-3 advantage and Shaw cut the lead to 3-2 with his power-play goal at 13:02.
The Moose pulled Berdin for an extra attacker in a late surge, but Kolesar put away an empty-net goal at 19:27 to seal the victory.
The Wolves wrap up the regular season with a 4 p.m. Family Sunday game against Manitoba. The first 1,000 kids receive a Raging Waves Waterpark admission ticket.