ROSEMONT, Ill.—The Wolves kicked off a four-game homestand when they faced the Texas Stars on Saturday night at Allstate Arena.
Rocco Grimaldi scored twice—and brought an avalanche of stuffed animals onto the ice on Teddy Bear Toss Night with his first goal—and added an assist to propel the Wolves to a 6-2 victory over the Central Division-leading Stars. Vasily Ponomarev added two goals, Matt Donovan a goal and three assists and Nathan Sucese a goal and an assist to help the Wolves snap a three-game losing skid.
“Sometimes we’ve had really slow starts and that can kind of flattens us—we’re a team that needs to score first,” Grimaldi said. “Right away from first shift we were jumping and getting chances. We just need to be more prepared going into games and (Saturday night) was a good one.”
Just 3 minutes, 51 seconds into the game, Grimaldi took a cross-ice feed from Donovan and banged a shot past Texas goaltender Remi Poirier. In addition to Donovan, Sucese earned an assist on. The score extended Grimaldi’s goals streak to three games.
It also sent teddy bears flying as part of the Wolves’ Teddy Bear Toss. The stuffed animals were collected and will be donated to charities. After the game, Grimaldi talked about the emotions of scoring the goal a day after he and wife, Abby, held a gender reveal following practice that showed the couple is expecting a boy in late-March.
“Knowing what happened (Friday) with the gender reveal, that was the first thing that went through my mind,” Grimaldi said. “It made me a little emotional just thinking, ‘how ironic is that? You find out you’re having a little boy and then have the Teddy Bear Toss goal.’ It’s special for my family and Abby’s family.”
After Texas’ Curtis McKenzie notched the equalizer in the opening minute of the second period, Sucese put the Wolves back in front 4:02 later. The forward took a stretch pass from Tyson Feist, raced into the Texas zone and wired a wrist shot from the left dot that beat Poirier to the stick side. The goal was Sucese’s sixth of the season.
Midway through the second, Grimaldi struck again, this time scoring off a goal-mouth scramble during a Wolves power play. The score that gave the Wolves a 3-1 advantage was Grimaldi’s team-leading 13th of the season and his sixth in the last three games. Donovan and Max Comtois had helpers.
Texas pulled to within 3-2 on a goal by Alex Petrovic later in the third but Ponomarev’s fourth goal of the season again put the Wolves up by two scores. With Chicago on the power play, Ponomarev took a pass in the slot from Chris Terry and solved Poirier to the stick side. Grimaldi also assisted on the goal.
Ponomarev struck again a short time later when he wheeled into the Stars zone and solved Poirier with a wrist shot from the right circle. Donovan earned his third assist of the game on Ponomarev’s fifth goal of the season.
Donovan’s empty-netter with just under five minutes was the final margin. It marked the defenseman’s first goal of the season and was assisted by Cory Conacher.
“We came out with a good game plan and stuck with it,” Donovan said. “We were moving our legs and making simple plays. We kept the momentum going throughout the game.”
Keith Kinkaid (29 saves) earned the win for the Wolves while Poirier (24 saves) suffered the loss for the Stars.
The Wolves improved to 6-13-1-2 on the season while Texas dropped to 14-7-2-1.
Next up: The Wolves host the Rockford IceHogs on Sunday (3 p.m.) at Allstate Arena. It will be Family Sunday, presented by Scott Credit Union.
For information on Wolves ticket plans for the 2023-24 season—everything from single-game tickets to Flex Packs to group outings—visit chicagowolves.com or call 1-800-THE-WOLVES.