ROSEMONT, Ill.—The Chicago Wolves concluded a stretch of three games in three days with a 3-2 victory over the Rockford IceHogs on Friday night at Allstate Arena.
Alexander Pashin scored the game-winner in the third period and Nathan Sucese and Josh Melnick also had goals for the Wolves, who won for the third time in the last five games.
“That’s a huge statement right before the (holiday) break to show our team how we have to play night in and night out to give ourselves a chance and close out games,” said Wolves goaltender Zachary Sawchenko, who made 31 saves to record the victory. “I’m just happy that this group found a way to get that win.”
The Central Division rivals exchanged pairs of goals in the opening period with the Wolves striking first on Sucese’s tally early on. The forward cleaned up a rebound of a Stelio Mattheos shot for his sixth goal of the season. Mattheos and captain Max Lajoie earned assists on the play.
Rockford got the equalizer a short time later when Cole Guttman found the back of the net.
The defending Calder Cup champions came right back and took a 2-1 advantage on Melnick’s fifth goal of the season. The center won a draw in the offensive zone to teammate Noel Gunler, who then gave the puck back to Melnick in the slot and he beat Rockford goaltender Arvid Soderblom to the stick side.
The lead was again short-lived as the IceHogs’ Brett Seney scored to even things at 2-2.
After neither team scored in the second period, Pashin put the Wolves in front early in the third after converting from in close following a cross-crease pass from Anttoni Honka. It marked Pashin’s third goal of the season and Honka’s 11th assist.
The Wolves then clamped down defensively to secure the win.
“Guys just bought into the system,” Sawchenko said. “When you buy into the structure here and buy into the process that (Coach Brock Sheahan) and the staff have implemented it makes for easier games for us because we manage the game a whole lot better.
“It’s been kind of an emotional roller coaster the first half of the season but this is something to build off for sure,” Sawchenko added.
Soderblom (17 saves) suffered the loss for the IceHogs.
The Wolves improved to 9-14-3-0 on the season while Rockford fell to 15-10-1-2.
Up next: The Wolves will travel to Milwaukee to face the Admirals on Tuesday (7 p.m.; 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.