Rookie goaltender Eetu Makiniemi stopped 25 shots for his first North American shutout as the Chicago Wolves earned a 3-0 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins Wednesday night at Van Andel Arena.
Forwards C.J. Smith, David Gust and Jack Drury scored for the Wolves (3-1-0-0), who won their third straight game to move into a share of the Central Division lead. Captain Andrew Poturalski added two assists as he produced points in all four games.
The Wolves needed just 5 minutes and 20 seconds to get on the board. After the Griffins (1-3-0-0) committed the game’s first penalty, Poturalski set up the power play and fed the puck to forward C.J. Smith at the point.
Smith spied Drury open on the doorstep and threaded a pass to the crease that Drury appeared to tip past goaltender Calvin Pickard for his first professional goal in North America, but Smith was credited with a goal for the fourth game in a row.
Chicago pumped its lead to 2-0 at 18:19 of the first when Ryan Suzuki won a faceoff in the offensive zone and drew it back to the top of the right circle for Gust, who immediately rifled a wrister past Pickard for the Orland Park native’s second goal in as many games. The Wolves have built a 2-0 lead in all four of their games this season.
Drury, a 21-year-old Winnetka native, finally earned his first pro goal in North America with 3:23 left in regulation. Poturalski cruised down the left wing with the puck, paused to open a passing lane and fed Drury in the slot for a missile past Pickard’s glove into the corner of the net.
Makiniemi (2-0-0) made several sterling saves late to preserve his whitewash. The 22-year-old from Vantaa, Finland, has yet to give up an even-strength goal this season while Pickard (1-2-0) finished with 29 saves.
The Wolves continue their three-game road trip with a visit to Milwaukee at 7 p.m. Friday. The team returns to Allstate Arena to face the Manitoba Moose at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 6, for Hockey Night in Chicago. To get the best seats for Military Appreciation Weekend, visit ChicagoWolves.com or call 1-800-THE-WOLVES.