Grand Rapids scored three third-period goals to earn a 3-2 victory over the Chicago Wolves on Thursday afternoon and spoil the School-Day Game field trip for 14,664 at Allstate Arena.
Forwards Brandon Pirri and Valentin Zykov scored for the Wolves (25-23-3-2), who missed a chance to jump over the Griffins (26-22-3-4) for third place in the AHL’s Central Division.
Chicago came up empty on all five of its power plays, which included three in the first period.
“We did have the game on our stick, I felt, a few times when it was 1-0,” said Wolves head coach Rocky Thompson. “Missed opportunities, partial breakaways, breakaways and an empty net on the one in the second period. Could have been a good blow to put the other team down (2-0) starting the third period.”
The Wolves jumped on top just 70 seconds into the game as center Patrick Brown won an offensive zone faceoff and zipped it directly to Pirri for a one-timer from the high slot.
The Griffins evened the score 2:53 into the third period when forward Tyler Spezia swooped behind the net for a wraparound goal to make it 1-1.
Defenseman Kyle Wood gave Grand Rapids a 2-1 lead at 6:38. From just inside the blue line, Wood flung a rising wrister that avoided the heavy traffic in front of the crease and snuck in the net.
Grand Rapids pushed the margin to 3-1 at 8:44 when Taro Hirose swiped a pass along the back boards and fed it to Joe Veleno in the slot for a quick backhander.
The Wolves pulled goaltender Oscar Dansk with 2:18 remaining and Chicago promptly took advantage of the extra attacker. Curtis McKenzie claimed a Nic Hague pass behind the net and tried to jam it past goaltender Pat Nagle, but the rebound went right to Zykov for a quick flip that cut the margin to 3-2 with 2:05 to go.
Chicago maintained the pressure, but couldn’t find the equalizer. Nagle (8-5-1) posted 28 saves in the win while Dansk (18-9-2) stopped 22 shots.
The Wolves travel to Milwaukee at 7 p.m. Friday (My50 Chicago) before hosting the Rockford IceHogs for an Illinois Lottery Cup clash at 3 p.m. Sunday. The first 2,500 fans receive a Wolves Retro Lunchbox courtesy of ABC Plumbing, Sewer, Heating, Cooling and Electric.