Two days after the Grand Rapids Griffins handed the Chicago Wolves their first loss, the Wolves responded with an 8-4 triumph over the Griffins Sunday afternoon at the Wolves Training Facility.
Rookie forward Jamieson Rees scored two first-period goals while Phil Tomasino, Cavan Fitzgerald, Seth Jarvis, Rem Pitlick, Sean Malone and David Cotton also tallied for the Wolves (8-1-0-0), who share the best record in the American Hockey League.
Grand Rapids (4-3-0-0) entered the game riding a four-game winning streak and with the league’s No. 2 defense at 1.83 goals allowed per game.
“I thought it was a good response from our team,” said Wolves head coach Ryan Warsofsky. “We played a lot harder with more structure. Really a good effort. Obviously to score the eight is nice, but to be honest we were looking more for the response from really not skating, not showing up, the other night in Grand Rapids. So it was good.”
Tomasino, who missed the last two games due to injury, gave the Wolves a boost just 48 seconds into the game. He carried the puck into the offensive zone and patiently waited for his teammates to make it a 4-on-2 situation. He fed defenseman Frederic Allard, then got the puck back in the left circle and whistled it home.
Grand Rapids pulled even on Taro Hirose’s power-play goal at 10:29 — snapping the Wolves’ streak of 20 consecutive penalty kills — but Rees responded with a power-play goal at 12:49. Defenseman Jeremy Davies scalded a slap shot from the post and Rees, stationed in the slot, tipped it past Pat Nagle. Rees added another goal with a wicked dangle at 15:34 to stake the Wolves to a 3-1 lead.
“I just think we came out a lot stronger and ready to play,” Rees said. “I don’t think we showed up ready to play Friday night. I think we showed up tonight and we were ready to snap back and show them that’s not the team we are. And I think we did that exactly.”
The Griffins cut the deficit to 3-2 by the end of the first period, but the Wolves stacked up three more goals in the second. Ryan Suzuki fed Fitzgerald for a blast, Jarvis knocked home a rebound for his seventh of the year and then Sheldon Rempal fed Pitlick on the rush for his AHL-leading eighth goal of the season.
Grand Rapids got as close as 6-4 on Riley Barber’s power-play goal at 2:15 of the third, but Malone and Cotton provided insurance tallies to ensure the Wolves posted their best February winning percentage in their 27-year history.
Rookie goaltender Beck Warm (4-0-0) stopped 29 shots to maintain his perfect record as a pro. Grand Rapids’ Pat Nagle (2-2-0) allowed five goals in 20 shots during the opening 29 minutes before being replaced by Kevin Boyle (12 saves).
The Wolves host the Cleveland Monsters at 7 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday in Hoffman Estates. Wolves fans who want to be at the rink this season can purchase a personalized cutout and take their place in the Chicago Wolves Fan Gallery, presented by Hefty. To learn more, click here.