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Wolves rush past Rockford

The Chicago Wolves stacked up four goals in a six-minute, 27-second stretch of the second period to spark a 5-3 road victory over Rockford IceHogs Monday afternoon.

Stefan Noesen produced two goals for the fifth time in his last nine games while C.J. Smith, Andrew Poturalski and David Gust added goals for the Wolves (24-6-2-1), who solidified their status as the AHL Western Conference’s top team.

Noesen, Poturalski and Smith recorded three points apiece as the Wolves outshot Rockford (14-13-1-1) by a 45-18 margin despite playing their seventh game in 11 days.

The Wolves jumped on top 4:38 into the game on Noesen’s 11th goal in the last nine games. Poturalski spun a pass back to the right point for new defenseman Derek Topatigh, who snapped a shot that got blocked by traffic. The rebound bounced to Noesen in the slot and he sizzled it over Arvid Soderblom’s blocker.

The IceHogs made it 1-1 on Ryan Stanton’s flick from the slot at 11:11 of the first, then took a 2-1 lead on Lukas Reichel’s goal 25 seconds into the second.

The Wolves responded with two goals in 67 seconds to seize a 3-2 lead at 9:14 of the second. After an extended offensive possession, Jack Drury battled two IceHogs along the right half-wall to force a turnover back to defenseman Eric Williams at the right point. He whistled a shot toward the net that Smith stretched to deflect home.

Chicago then scored just seven seconds into a power play as Poturalski started and finished a play that featured all five Wolves skaters touching the puck. Poturalski won a faceoff back to Max Lajoie, who whizzed a pass from the right point to Smith on the left. Smith’s centering pass found Drury in the slot and he deflected it toward the crease for Noesen, who spied Poturalski rushing toward the net to set up his 18th goal of the year.

After Dylan McLaughlin’s breakaway pulled Rockford into a 3-3 tie at 9:54 of the second, Gust and Noesen gave the Wolves some breathing room by staking the team to a 5-3 lead at 15:59.

Williams lobbed a long pass from the defensive zone toward Smith at the far blue line. Smith dropped to his knee to catch the puck, then slid it ahead to Gust for a breakaway that beat Soderblom high.

Rockford received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after the goal, which led to Noesen’s second score of the day. Poturalski fired a low centering pass toward the crease toward Noesen, who had his back to the goal yet redirected the puck while airborne.

Alex Lyon (10-2-2) posted 15 saves to pick up the win while Soderblom (5-6-0) stopped 40 shots.

The Wolves wrap up their five-game road trip with 2 p.m. games at Manitoba on Saturday and Sunday. Chicago returns to Allstate Arena for big home games on Jan. 26, 28 and 29. To get the best ticket deals, contact a Wolves representative at [email protected].