ROSEMONT, Ill.—The Chicago Wolves matched a franchise record for goals in a single period but it wasn’t enough as they fell to the Grand Rapids Griffins 8-7 in overtime Thursday night at Allstate Arena.
The defending Calder Cup champion Wolves lit the lamp six times in the opening period before the Griffins rallied to hand Chicago its second loss in a row.
“It’s really frustrating,” Wolves forward Joseph LaBate said. “It’s a maturity thing, playing in this league with a lead. It’s definitely a certain way that you have to play – you have to play simple, get pucks deep and wear them down.”
Noel Gunler lead the Wolves’ offense with two goals and an assist while LaBate, Griffin Mendel, Zack Hayes, Tuukka Tieksola and Max Lajoie also scored. William Lagesson, Malte Stromwall and Vasily Ponomarev each added two assists.
Mendel got things going when the defenseman stepped into a shot from the top of the right circle and powered it past Griffins goaltender Sebastian Cossa for his fourth goal of the season.
Gunler followed with his first goal of the game – and fifth of the season – when he knocked in a rebound of a Lagesson shot.
Grand Rapids got on the board with an Alex Chiasson goal, but the Wolves kept coming as LaBate scored his second goal of the season. The winger banged home a shot after a nifty backhanded pass from behind the net from Logan Lambdin to give Chicago a 3-1 advantage.
Gunler struck again with the Wolves holding a two-man advantage. Stromwall sent a cross-crease pass that Gunler redirected past Cossa.
Later in the period, the Wolves were on another power play when Tieksola notched his second goal of the season. The forward sent a one-timer off a pass from Ponomarev that eluded Cossa to the glove side and the lead was 5-1.
Grand Rapids’ Danny O’Regan scored to cut the advantage to 5-2 but Chicago wasn’t done in the first as Hayes tallied his first goal in a Wolves uniform. The defenseman’s shot from the top of the left circle eluded Cossa to the stick side and the Wolves had soared past their highest goal output in a game (five) in the opening period alone.
The six-goal period was the Wolves’ fifth in franchise history and the first since they scored a half-dozen in the first period of a game against the Houston Aeros on Feb. 20, 2010.
“We were playing direct and playing the right way,” LaBate said. “When we do that things open up. It pushes the ‘D’ back and our skill takes over and we were able to make plays.”
The Griffins changed goalies to start the second, with Jussi Olkinoura taking over. That seemed to spark Grand Rapids as it pulled to within 6-4 on goals by Chiasson and Tyler Spezia.
Early in the third, Lajoie’s blast from the high slot sailed by Olkinoura for the Wolves captain’s first goal of the season and a 7-4 Chicago lead.
Again, the Griffins kept coming and cut the Wolves’ advantage to one on scores by O’Regan and Spezia found the back of the net a short time later.
Grand Rapids tied it while on the power play on a goal by Joel L’Esperance and won it in OT on Austin Czarnik’s score.
Cale Morris (24 saves) suffered the loss for the Wolves while Olkinoura (13 saves) earned the win for the Griffins.
The Wolves fell to 8-14-3-0 on the season Grand Rapids improved to 11-14-1-0.
Up next: The Wolves will host the Rockford IceHogs on Friday at Allstate Arena (7 p.m.; My50 Chicago, AHLTV).
For information on Wolves ticket plans for the 2022-23 season — everything from single-game tickets to Flex Packs to group outings — visit ChicagoWolves.com or call 1-800-THE-WOLVES.