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Mrazek, Wolves reject Griffins

Chicago 5 | Grand Rapids 2
Wolves win fifth game in a row as Petr Mrazek stops 43 shots

Loaned to Chicago earlier in the day for a conditioning stint, goaltender Petr Mrazek stopped 43 shots to backstop the Chicago Wolves to a 5-2 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins Thursday afternoon at the Wolves Training Facility.

Forward Anthony Richard produced two goals in the final eight minutes while defensemen Frederic Allard and David Warsofsky and forward Tanner Jeannot also scored for the Wolves (13-2-0-1), who extended their winning streak to five games and took a nine-point lead over Grand Rapids (8-5-2-0) in the Central Division standings.

The 29-year-old Mrazek played his first game since Jan. 30, when he injured his right thumb playing for the Carolina Hurricanes. His first American Hockey League appearance since March 6, 2015 — when he played for Grand Rapids.

“He was really good,” said Wolves head coach Ryan Warsofsky. “I think he was fighting through traffic, which is something that his goalie coach was interested to see. I think he did a good job because it’s hard to emulate in practice — five or six guys in front of you.”

“I don’t think there’s anything better than facing 45 shots,” Mrazek said. “It’s a good conditioning game.”

Grand Rapids popped on top 2:56 into the game when veteran forward Turner Elson deposited a weak-side rebound into the net. The Wolves responded with a pair of goals 55 seconds apart midway through the first to seize the lead for good.

Allard knotted the score with a blast from the high slot at 9:37 that was set up by 19-year-old rookie Luke Evangelista, who earned his first professional point.

Then the Griffins’ Riley Barber was ticketed for running into Mrazek — and the Wolves needed just nine seconds to spin that power play into gold. Warsofsky accepted a Phil Tomasino pass at the point, sized up the defense and issued a rocket that ricocheted off goaltender Kevin Boyle’s pads, soared three feet above the crossbar and came down behind Boyle in the net at 10:32.

Chicago grabbed a 3-1 lead when Tomasino centered a pass from the right boards directly to Jeannot at the edge of the crease, but Grand Rapids answered with Barber’s blast two seconds after a power play ended.

While the Griffins kept piling up shots, Richard posted a pair of insurance goals for the Wolves. He drilled a goal from the left faceoff circle one second after a power play ended, then added an empty-net goal with 25 seconds to play.

Boyle (4-2-1) finished with 22 saves for the Griffins.

The Wolves face their archrival, the Rockford IceHogs, in their next two games. The Wolves host the IceHogs at 7 p.m. Saturday in Hoffman Estates before traveling to Rockford at 6 p.m. Wednesday.