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Wolves fall in shootout

Rockford 4 | Chicago 3
Rookie forward Cole Smith records first two-goal game as pro

Despite rookie forward Cole Smith’s first two-goal game as a professional, the Chicago Wolves suffered a 4-3 shootout loss to the host Rockford IceHogs Saturday night.

Rookie forward David Cotton also scored and defenseman David Warsofsky handed out two assists as the Wolves (15-4-0-2) dropped their first game of the year when leading at either intermission.

Wolves goaltender Connor Ingram (0-1-1) rejected 37 of 40 saves during regulation and overtime while 27-year-old Russia native Ivan Nalimov (1-1-0) posted 23 saves to earn his first win in North America.

Rockford (8-13-1-0) recorded the game’s first goal when Reese Johnson finished off a 2-on-1 rush with a top-shelf blast at 5:56 of the first.

The Wolves answered shortly after Nalimov lost control of his stick and flipped it into the corner. Defenseman Joey Keane ripped a shot from the point that Smith redirected between Nalimov’s skates for a 1-1 knot at 14:11.

Chicago received a power play moments later and, 10 seconds into the power play, defenseman Frederic Allard ripped a wrister from the top of the right circle and Cotton battled to swat home the rebound to give the Wolves a 2-1 lead at 14:46.

The IceHogs forged a 2-2 tie on Andrei Altybarmakian’s rebound goal at 15:47 of the second, but Smith responded again with a pinpoint one-timer with 11 seconds left in the second. Center Sean Malone took a pass in the neutral zone, glided down the right wing, circled behind the net and flipped Smith a perfect backhand pass in the slot to set up the Wolves’ 3-2 lead.

Rockford removed Nalimov with 3:00 left to get an extra attacker on the ice and it paid off when MacKenzie Entwistle was credited with the tying goal with 2:11 remaining in regulation.

After a scoreless overtime, Rockford’s Tim Soderlund and Brandon Pirri converted their shootout attempts while the Wolves’ Patrick Harper and Cotton were stopped by Nalimov.

The Wolves host their first home game in 18 days at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 21, when Rockford visits the Wolves Training Facility in Hoffman Estates.

The Wolves are hosting a Food Drive to help Chicago’s Common Pantry on Saturday, April 24, at Allstate Arena. Skates will lead a group accepting donations of canned goods and other non-perishable items from noon to 2 p.m. in the parking lot.