The Chicago Wolves produced three goals in the final 96 seconds to cap a monstrous third-period rally that gave the Wolves a 5-3 win over the Grand Rapids Griffins Friday night at Van Andel Arena.
Forwards Josh Leivo, Maxim Letunov, Spencer Smallman, C.J. Smith and Andrew Poturalski scored in the final period for the Wolves (9-4-1-1), who authored their biggest rally in years and won their fourth game in as many trips to Grand Rapids this season.
Grand Rapids (7-6-2-1) opened the scoring at 12:19 of the first on defenseman Jared McIsaac’s first professional goal. Kris Criscuolo dragged a faceoff win back to McIsaac, who issued a wrister from the high slot.
After an extended break for Grand Rapids’ annual Teddy Bear Toss, the Griffins pushed their lead to 2-0 at 13:17 as Criscuolo knocked home a rebound.
The Wolves applied all of the pressure during the first half of the second period. After extended possession time in Grand Rapids’ zone, veteran forward Stefan Noesen thought he scored 10:41 into the frame, but the officials reviewed the video replay and declared no goal. Meanwhile, Chicago’s defense didn’t allow Grand Rapids any shots on goal until 11:49 passed in the period.
McIsaac picked up his second pro goal at 15:23 of the second when Criscuolo won another draw to the rookie defenseman. McIsaac carried the puck along the right wall and flicked a backhand that sneaked through traffic into the net.
The Wolves launched their comeback with Leivo’s power play 1:29 into the third. Dominik Bokk spun the puck back to the point for captain Poturalski, who spied Leivo open at the left faceoff dot for a pinpoint one-timer.
Just 57 seconds later, defenseman Jalen Chatfield and forward Sam Miletic pushed the puck into the offensive zone quickly. Miletic, working down the left wing, found Letunov as the late man on the rush and Letunov whistled it home from the high slot to cut the deficit to 3-2 at 2:26.
With the Wolves still trailing with two minutes to go, head coach Ryan Warsofsky pulled goaltender Eetu Makiniemi to get an extra attacker on the ice. That worked out immediately as Poturalski and Jack Drury set up Smallman for the tying one-timer at 18:24.
The Wolves won the subsequent faceoff and Stefan Noesen chased it into the corner and backhanded a pass toward the goal. The puck either went off Poturalski’s shoulder or hand toward the crease for Smith, who swatted it home for a 4-3 lead with 1:24 to play.
Poturalski provided an insurance goal — and wrapped up his four-point period —with an empty-netter from center ice with 42 seconds left
Makiniemi (6-2-1) earned the win with 29 saves while Grand Rapids’ Calvin Pickard (7-3-2) also posted 29 saves.
The Wolves carry this momentum into Thanksgiving Weekend home games against Rockford at 7 p.m. Saturday and Grand Rapids at 3 p.m. Sunday. To find specials on Wolves Howliday Flex Packs and merchandise, visit ChicagoWolvesStore.com or call 1-800-THE-WOLVES.