Veteran forward Riley Barber scored with 13 seconds left to derail a Chicago Wolves rally and give the Grand Rapids Griffins a 5-4 win Friday night at Van Andel Arena.
Forwards Anthony Richard, Phil Tomasino, Dominik Bokk and David Cotton scored for the Wolves (18-7-1-2), who produced two goals in an 86-second span late in the third period to forge a 4-4 tie.
Center Tommy Novak and defenseman David Warsofsky handed out three assists apiece for Chicago, which couldn’t reduce its magic number to win the Central Division crown. It remains at 7 heading into Saturday’s home game against Grand Rapids.
The Wolves seized the lead just 3:18 into the night as Novak collected the puck in the defensive zone and spied Richard sneaking behind the defense. He steered a pass through the neutral zone to set up a breakaway as Richard beat goaltender Kevin Boyle with a precise wrister.
Grand Rapids (13-10-3-1) pulled even on Barber’s rebound goal at 7:54 of the first, but the Wolves regained control on their first power-play chance of the night. Novak and Warsofsky worked the puck around to the right faceoff circle for Tomasino, who took two quick strides toward the net and whistled a shot bar down for a 2-1 lead at 18:47.
The Griffins forged a 2-2 tie late in the second period when Kyle Criscuolo stationed himself in front of goaltender Beck Warm and tipped home a Jared McIsaac shot for a power-play goal at 17:21.
Grand Rapids built more momentum on defenseman Dylan McIlrath’s blast from the top of the right circle 2:05 into the third. The Griffins earned the game’s first two-goal lead when Barber, on the rush, patiently dropped a pass back to Criscuolo for a quick snapper that made it 4-2 at 10:51.
The Wolves turned things around thanks to a 5-on-3 power-play opportunity with seven minutes left in regulation. Bokk cut the margin to 4-3 when Novak fed him just beyond the doorstep at 13:36, then Cotton redirected a shot by rookie defenseman Marc Del Gaizo two seconds after the power play expired to make it 4-4 at 15:02 of the third.
Barber and Criscuolo finished with two goals and two assists apiece for Grand Rapids. Boyle (7-3-1) stopped 20 shots to pick up the win while Warm (6-3-1) posted 22 saves.
The Wolves and Griffins meet again at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Wolves Training Facility in Hoffman Estates. To enjoy all the action, visit AHLTV.com.