In his first professional game in North America, 22-year-old Finland native Eetu Makiniemi stopped 41 shots to lead the Chicago Wolves to a 3-2 victory over the Milwaukee Admirals Friday night at Panther Arena.
Forwards David Cotton and C.J. Smith and defenseman Jalen Chatfield scored for the Wolves (1-1-0-0) while captain Andrew Poturalski dished out two assists in Chicago’s first win of the year.
Cotton opened the scoring with 3:15 left in the first period. David Gust and Ryan Suzuki battled to win the puck in the corner, then Suzuki slid a short pass to Cotton at the bottom of the left circle for a one-timer that whizzed past goaltender Devin Cooley’s head for his first goal of the season.
The Wolves pushed their lead to 2-0 on Chatfield’s tally at 16:26 of the second. Chicago controlled the puck in the offensive zone for nearly a full minute, then Poturalski seized control, skated behind the net and flipped a perfect backhand pass to Chatfield at the right faceoff dot for a one-timer that picked the left corner.
The Wolves earned a crucial insurance goal with a perfect tic-tac-toe from Poturalski to rookie center Jack Drury to Smith for a power-play goal that made it 3-0 with 11:40 remaining.
Milwaukee (1-1-0-0) finally got on the board with 3:01 left in regulation on 20-year-old rookie Egor Afanasyev’s first professional goal in North America — a power-play tally that came after the Admirals pulled their goalie to have a 6-on-4 advantage. Milwaukee’s Matt Tennyson converted another 6-on-4 advantage with 11 seconds to go.
Midway through the second period, Makiniemi gave the Wolves a lift by rejecting back-to-back breakaways by the Admirals’ Anthony Richard.
Admirals goaltender Devin Cooley (1-1-0), who made his AHL debut with the Wolves last season, stopped 28 of 31 shots in the loss.
Saturday is Hockey Night in Chicago, which means the Wolves are hosting a rematch with Milwaukee at 7 p.m. Saturday at Allstate Arena. To get the best seats for Breast Cancer Awareness Night, which benefits A Silver Lining Foundation, visit ChicagoWolves.com or call 1-800-THE-WOLVES.