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Noesen, Wolves power past Griffins

Chicago 4 | Grand Rapids 1
Wolves score three power-play goals in second period to cruise to victory

Stefan Noesen scored a pair of goals for the sixth time in his last 11 games to spark the Chicago Wolves to a 4-1 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins Friday night at Allstate Arena.

Forward Maxim Letunov and defenseman Max Lajoie also scored for the Wolves (25-7-4-1), who defeated the Griffins for the seventh time in as many meetings this season as they outshot the visitors 40-16.

Andrew Poturalski and CJ Smith, Noesen’s linemates, added two assists apiece as all three continue to rank among the American Hockey League’s top four scorers.

“The power play was big tonight,” said Wolves head coach Ryan Warsofsky. “We needed it to come through. It was kind of stale the last two nights, but I think it’s just sticking with it. With power play, you can get really frustrated, so it’s just sticking with it and staying calm.”

Letunov delivered the game’s first goal at 13:29 of the first. After Sam Miletic chipped the puck out of the defensive zone, Ivan Lodnia fed Letunov on the move at the red line. Defenseman Jalen Chatfield joined the rush to give Chicago a 2-on-1 opportunity, but Letunov kept possession the whole way and fired a shot top-shelf from close range.

The Wolves outshot the Griffins 17-2 in the first period — including 16 shots in a row — but only led 1-0 at the first intermission. Chicago made up for lost time with three power-play goals during a six-minute, 19-second stretch of the second period to seize a 4-0 lead.

The Wolves’ push began with Noesen’s first goal at 6:18 of the second. Near the end of the man-advantage, Poturalski fed the puck to Noesen at the goal line just to goaltender Victor Brattstrom’s right. As soon as he took the pass, Noesen wheeled and stuffed the puck home for his 19th goal of the year.

Grand Rapids’ Josh Dickinson committed a high-sticking double-minor just 19 seconds later to set up Noesen’s next tally. Lajoie wristed a pass from the point to a spot just outside the crease for Noesen, who redirected it home to make it 3-0 at 10:33 of the second.

The Griffins (15-14-5-2) took another penalty to set Lajoie’s third goal of the year. Poturalski carried the puck behind the net, got the defense to commit and fired a pass to Lajoie in the high slot for a wrister that gave the Wolves a 4-0 lead at 12:37.

Grand Rapids got on the board when Matt Berry battled for a rebound goal at 6:13 of the third.

Wolves goaltender Alex Lyon (11-3-2) rejected 15 shots, including multiple breakaways, to earn the win. Brattstrom (2-6-2) finished with 36 saves.

The Wolves host the Rockford IceHogs at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Chicago Mid-Winter Classic, presented by Planet Fitness. The first 5,000 fans receive a Wolves rally towel courtesy of Planet Fitness. The Wolves also will wear their commemorative Healthcare Heroes jerseys, presented by Turtle Wax, for the final time. To get the best ticket specials, email a Wolves ticket representative at [email protected].