ROSEMONT, Ill.—The Chicago Wolves opened a two-game homestand by thrashing the Rockford IceHogs 5-1 on Saturday night at Allstate Arena.
Zach Senyshyn had two goals and an assist, Max Lajoie a goal and an assist and Neil Shea and Joseph LaBate also scored to give the defending Calder Cup champion Wolves their 10th win in their last 14 games.
“It’s coming down to crunch time here and we’re putting together some really good hockey,” Senyshyn said. “The main thing that I’ve been focusing on is just doing everything I can to help this team win.”
Goaltender Zachary Sawchenko, who was the recipient of the offensive onslaught that included Shea’s first professional goal in his American Hockey League debut, made 24 saves to earn the win.
Lajoie got the Wolves off to a strong start with a terrific individual effort early in the opening period. The defenseman carried the puck from his own zone, through neutral ice and into the Rockford where he closed in on IceHogs goaltender Jaxson Stauber and stuffed the puck into the net from in close. The unassisted goal was Lajoie’s eighth of the season.
A short time later, the Wolves extended the lead to 2-0 on Senyshyn’s power-play goal. The winger took a pass from Jamieson Rees and wired a wrist shot from the top of the left circle that sailed past Stauber to the glove side. The tally was Senyshyn’s seventh of the season—but first since joining the Wolves in a trade with Utica in mid-February. Rees and Jack Drury were awarded assists on the score.
The Wolves kept coming in the second period and blew the game wide open. First, Shea scored his first career goal to give Chicago a three-score advantage. The forward, who signed an Amateur Tryout Contract on Tuesday after finishing his college career at Sacred Heart University, took a feed from Senyshyn, deked Stauber to the ice and flipped a backhander over the goalie’s left shoulder and into the top of the net. In addition to Senyshyn, Nathan Sucese also picked up a helper on the goal.
Senysyhn struck again just over two minutes later when he wheeled into the Rockford zone and unleashed a shot from between the circles that beat Stauber to the stick side. William Lagesson and Griffin Mendel each had assists on Senyshyn’s second of the night.
“I’m just trying to stick to the things I’ve been doing and kind of focus on the defensive side of the puck and then taking pucks to the net, using my speed and shooting the puck,” Senyshyn said.
With the Wolves shorthanded midway through the second, LaBate continued the rout when he broke in alone on Stauber and deposited the puck into the net for his sixth goal of the season. Lajoie and Mackenzie MacEachern picked up assists on the goal that gave the Wolves a 5-0 lead.
Midway through the third, Michal Teply scored for Rockford to spoil Sawchenko’s shutout bid.
Sawchenko improved to 11-16-1-1 on the season while Stauber (33 saves) suffered the loss for the IceHogs.
The Wolves improved to 25-25-3-2 on the season and Rockford dropped to 27-22-5-4.
Up next: The Wolves host the Grand Rapids Griffins on Sunday at Allstate Arena (3 p.m.; My50 Chicago, NHL Network, AHLTV). It will be Women in Sports Day and also Family Sunday.
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.