Stefan Noesen scored his league-leading 36th and 37th goals and Winnetka native Jack Drury racked up a career-high four points as the Chicago Wolves knocked off the Milwaukee Admirals by a 6-1 count Saturday night at Allstate Arena.
Forwards David Gust, Josh Leivo, Drury and Jamieson Rees also scored goals for the Wolves (41-12-5-5), who dropped their magic number to 12 to clinch their fifth Central Division title in six years.
The 60-minute effort, in essence, was the Wolves’ response to suffering a 4-1 loss Friday night at Milwaukee.
“We’ve responded all year,” said Wolves head coach Ryan Warsofsky. “The guys did a great job. We challenged them tonight before the game to be a little bit better and we did that. We kind of approached it almost like a playoff Game 2 and we lost Game 1.”
After a brief but fierce bout between Chicago’s Kyle Marino and Milwaukee’s Tommy Apap — won decisively by Marino — energized the building three minutes into the game, Noesen amped up the crowd further by scoring the opening goal at 6:08 of the first.
Noesen jumped out of the penalty box, found the puck on his stick and backhanded it to Drury coming up the left wing. Noesen headed toward the middle of the offensive zone, accepted the return pass from Drury and ripped it past Milwaukee’s Connor Ingram.
Gust pumped the lead to 2-0 at 13:32 of the first. Cavan Fitzgerald sizzled a shot from the left point that Stelio Mattheos redirected off the post. The puck hit Ingram’s back, dropped into the crease and Gust battled to tap it across the goal line.
The Wolves controlled the first period as they fired the game’s first eight shots and Milwaukee didn’t put a shot on goal until 8:25 remained in the period. Nonetheless, Milwaukee (33-25-4-4) cut the margin in half on former Wolves center Cody Glass’ power-play goal at 16:51 of the first. Glass fired a shot from the right faceoff circle that wasn’t headed toward the goalmouth, but it banked off a defenseman’s leg into the net.
Noesen re-established momentum for Chicago with a snipe 7:34 into the second to push the lead to 3-1. The Admirals committed a delayed penalty, which allowed goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov to leave the ice in favor of a sixth attacker. Defenseman Joey Keane sauced a pass from the right point to the left for Drury, who fed Noesen between the left faceoff circle and the goal line. Noesen sized up the situation and threaded a shot through the tiny open space between Ingram’s head and the top corner of the net — and Ingram had no chance to move. For Noesen, it marked his ninth multi-goal game since Dec. 11.
Leivo earned his 19th goal of the year 9:45 into the third to make it 4-1. Drury cleared the puck from the defensive zone and Leivo outraced an Admirals defenseman down the right wing and roofed a shot over Ingram’s glove to make it 4-1.
Drury added a power-play goal at 14:18 of the third as he swooped in to grab a rebound and bang it off the iron for a 5-1 lead. With 3:30 remaining, Drury forced a turnover on the forecheck and Rees took it in for his fourth goal in the last five games.
Kochetkov finished with 21 saves as the 22-year-old rookie from Russia improved his record to 9-0-1. Ingram (27-15-6) stopped 27 of 33 shots.
The Wolves host the Texas Stars at 3 p.m. Sunday for Papa Johns Family Sunday, which features a plethora of fun activities for the whole family. To find the best ticket deals or learn more about Wizards Day on Sunday, April 10, visit ChicagoWolves.com or contact a team representative at [email protected].