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Wolves rally past Rockford

Chicago 3 | Rockford 2
McKenzie scores twice in third period, then Coghlan wins it in OT

Defenseman Dylan Coghlan rifled home a power-play goal at 3:24 of overtime to lift the Chicago Wolves to a 3-2 victory over the Rockford IceHogs in an Illinois Lottery Cup contest Sunday afternoon at Allstate Arena.

Forward Curtis McKenzie scored twice in the third period to rally the Wolves (27-26-5-3) while goaltender Garret Sparks produced 38 saves. The Wolves pulled into a tie with the IceHogs (29-30-2-2) for the Central Division’s last playoff spot at 62 points apiece, though Chicago holds two games in hand.

Through two periods, Rockford held a 1-0 lead on the scoreboard and a 29-9 advantage in shots – and the teams combined for one fight and several scrums during the second period.

“It was an emotional game,” said Wolves head coach Rocky Thompson. “You could see that. I said (to the team during second intermission), this game isn’t about structure. It’s going to be about who wants it more. So it was kind of like, just free yourself and go out there and prove you want it more. I loved the response of our guys.”

Rockford center Philipp Kurashev produced the opening goal 3:26 into the game. He spun in the right circle and launched a wrister that was blocked by a Wolves defenseman, but the puck returned to his stick. He steered it toward the crease and the puck banked off the toe of another Wolves defenseman’s skate into the net.

After a penalty-filled second period that featured one fight and several angry exchanges and raised the game’s intensity level, the Wolves battled to forge a 1-1 tie at 3:35 of the third.

Lucas Elvenes collected the puck in the corner and issued a short feed to Keegan Kolesar, who spied McKenzie edging past an IceHogs defenseman at the top of the crease. Kolesar slid a pass right on McKenzie’s stick, which was angled to raise the puck over goaltender Mark Tomkins’ right shoulder.

Chicago took the lead on McKenzie’s power-play goal at 6:55. Elvenes rifled a rising wrister from the top of the left circle and McKenzie, surging toward the top of the crease, raised his stick to waist level and used the heel to tip the puck between Tomkins’ glove and mask for a 2-1 lead.

Rockford made it 2-2 with 5:58 left in regulation as Brandon Hagel found MacKenzie Entwistle at the back door for a quick flip.

The Wolves earned a 4-on-3 power play after a Brandon Hagel hooking call at 2:36. Coghlan set up camp at the top of the right circle and rocketed home an Elvenes pass for the valuable extra point.

Sparks (8-14-4) finished one shy of his season-high for saves while Tomkins (5-7-1) posted 22 saves.

The Wolves continue their six-game homestand on Friday, March 13, against the San Antonio Rampage on Craft Beer Night, then they host Rockford on Saturday, March 14, and the Manitoba Moose on Sunday, March 15.