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Wolves rally in historic fashion

Chicago 4 | Cleveland 3
Noesen, Poturalski score in third and Wolves allow Monsters no shots in final period

Down by one entering the third period, the Chicago Wolves received goals from Stefan Noesen and Andrew Poturalski and held the Cleveland Monsters without a shot to rally for a 4-3 triumph Sunday afternoon at Allstate Arena.

Forward Jack Drury and defenseman Artyom Serikov also scored for the Wolves (22-5-1-1), who won for the 14th time in 15 games to extend their Central Division lead to eight points.

Noesen assisted on Poturalski’s game-tying goal 24 seconds into the third period, then Poturalski helped set up Noesen’s game-winning power-play tally at the 9:53 mark. Meanwhile, the Wolves’ defense didn’t allow a shot for an entire period for just the second time in the franchise’s 28-year history. The only other blanking occurred against the Peoria Rivermen on Nov. 18, 2005.

“We challenged them to ‘Let’s just go out and work as hard as we can,’ ” said Wolves head coach Ryan Warsofsky. “To be a really good hockey team, we need to play full-speed. It needs to be tenacious on the forecheck, hounding pucks, hunting on pucks, holding on to pucks — and we did that in the third period. It was important for us to have that mentality.”

The rally made a deserving winner of goaltender Daniel Mannella (1-0-0), who earned his first AHL win. The Wolves signed the second-year pro from the ECHL’s Tulsa Oilers on Saturday — and he stopped 16 of 16 shots in relief Saturday and 24 of 27 Sunday.

Cleveland jumped on top 35 seconds into the game on Cole Fonstad’s third goal of the year. Tyler Sikura won a faceoff back to Trey Fix-Wolansky, who inadvertently banked a one-timer off Fonstad that changed direction and slowed down dramatically to sneak past Mannella.

The Wolves pulled even at 12:48 of the first on Drury’s power-play goal. Joey Keane steered the puck from the point to the right circle for Poturalski, who dished to Drury in the slot for a pinpoint redirect past goaltender Jet Greaves.

Chicago took its first lead on Serikov’s goal at 15:25 of the first. The Wolves worked to keep the puck in the offensive zone, then Spencer Smallman fed Serikov at the left point and he snapped a rising shot that sneaked through the traffic created by Dominik Bokk.

Cleveland (11-9-4-3) knotted things 2-2 on a fluke bounce at 2:33 of the second. Defenseman Billy Sweezey rifled the puck down the right boards intending to rim it around to the other side. Mannella went behind the net to intercept the puck, but it took an unlikely bounce from the corner into the crease for Jake Gaudet to tap home.

The Monsters regained a 3-2 edge when Brendan Gaunce spied Josh Dunne open just outside the crease for a redirect for a power-play goal at 9:44 of the second.

The Wolves forged the game’s third tie just 24 seconds into the third as defenseman Max Lajoie spun the puck toward the left corner for Noesen, who steered a no-look pass to Sam Miletic near the other corner. Miletic found Poturalski open by the crease and fed him for his 15th goal of the year to make it 3-3.

Then, moments after Cleveland defenseman Thomas Schemitsch punched Drury twice in the jaw to earn a roughing penalty and a 10-minute misconduct, the Wolves’ power play delivered the game-tying goal. Poturalski whisked a pass from the right circle to the left circle, then C.J. Smith’s slick stickwork forced a Monsters defenseman to sprawl the ice and the goaltender to lurch out of the crease. Smith dangled around them and fed Noesen for a tap-in and a 4-3 lead at 9:53.

Greaves (1-2-0) posted 30 saves in his first game since Dec. 4.

The Wolves complete their brief homestand against the Grand Rapids Griffins at 7 p.m. Wednesday on Craft Beer Night. For the best ticket specials, contact a Wolves representative at [email protected].