29 March 2012

Wolves Beat Heat In Shootout; Boost Midwest Lead To 6 Points

Photo courtesy of Abbotsford Heat

Abbotsford, B.C. --- The Chicago Wolves overcame three deficits and earned a victory for the first time this season after entering the third period trailing with a 5-4 shootout win Thursday night at Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre.

Wolves forward Mark Mancari scored the lone goal in the shootout and goaltender Eddie Lack thwarted all five Heat shooters to give Chicago a season-high eight wins in the month of March and extend their Midwest Division lead to six points over Peoria and Charlotte. Chicago (39-25-2-3) now sits two points behind Toronto for second place in the AHL’s Western Conference.

Center Jordan Schroeder collected two goals for the Wolves while forward Tim Miller and defenseman Brad Hunt also scored. Steve Reinprecht and Nolan Baumgartner earned two assists apiece.

Despite matching two squads ranked in the AHL’s top seven in goals-against average, the Wolves and Heat combined for eight goals in regulation in a see-saw battle that saw Chicago outshoot their seventh straight opponent 35-23.

Schroeder scored twice in 25 seconds in the second period and British Columbia native Brad Hunt scored his first professional goal on the power play with 7:23 remaining in regulation to send the game to overtime.

Lack (19-18-3) stopped 19 shots, snapping his two-game losing streak and earning the Wolves their fifth victory in six games. Leland Irving (20-13-3) made 30 saves in the loss.

Abbotsford center Paul Byron opened the scoring 4:02 into the first period. Heat left wing Dustin Sylvester picked the pocket of Wolves defenseman Mark Matheson at center ice and entered the zone on a two-on-one against Hunt. Sylvester outwaited Hunt, who went down to the ice attempting to take away the passing lane, and found Byron at the left side of the net for a tap-in score.

The Wolves evened the score despite being down a man when Miller fired a shot over Irving’s right shoulder and into the top shelf for the club’s 11th shorthanded tally of the season. Reinprecht and Baumgartner picked up assists while Miller extended his point streak to three games with his second shorthanded goal of the season.

Abbotsford regained the lead 53 seconds later just as a Wolves too many men penalty expired. Heat right wing Hugh Jessiman beat Lack short side, stepping out from the right side of the net and ripping a shot through a screen and over the right shoulder of the 24-year-old Wolves netminder.

Schroeder then tied the game 5:15 into the second period following a good stretch of Wolves puck possession in the Abbotsford zone, deflecting Hunt’s shot from the point into the back of the net.

Moments later Schroeder gave the Wolves their first lead. The 21-year-old received a pass from forward Michael Davies in front of the net and patiently moved to his right and slid the puck through a moving Irving for his 18th goal of the season.

Chicago wasn’t able to hold Abbotsford at bay for long. The Heat tied and retook the lead with goals by defenseman Joe Piskula and center Kyrs Kolanos less than three minutes apart late in the second period. Both goals came off shots from the point and through screens, with Kolanos’ goal coming on the power play.

The Wolves fought to tie the game for the third time, this time on the power play when Hunt redirected a centering feed from Reinprecht for his first career AHL goal to even the score 4-4.

The Wolves wrap up their regular-season series with Abbotsford at 9 p.m. on Friday. Chicago’s next appearance at Allstate Arena is Saturday, April 14, against Milwaukee for the final Amtrak Rivalry contest of the season. For tickets, visit ChicagoWolves.com or call 1-800-THE-WOLVES.

Chicago 1 2 1 0-- 5
Abbotsford 2 2 0 0 -- 4

First Period--- 1, Abbotsford, Byron 5 (Sylvester), 4:02; 2, Chicago, Miller 18 (Reinprecht, Baumgartner), 12:23 sh; 3, Abbotsford, Jessiman 25 (Nemisz, Carson), 13:16. Penalties---Chicago (bench minor - too many men; served by Davies), 11:16.

Second Period--- 4, Chicago, Schroeder 18 (Hunt, Matheson), 5:51; 5, Chicago, Schroeder 19 (Davies, Sweatt), 6:16; 6, Abbotsford, Piskula 3 (Carson, Aliu), 11:43; 7, Abbotsford, Kolanos 23 (Howse, Walter), 14:17 pp. Penalties--- Henry, Chicago (holding), 9:09; Hunt, Chicago (hooking), 14:13.

Third Period--- 8, Chicago, Hunt 1 (Reinprecht, Baumgartner), 12:37 pp. Penalties--- Nemisz, Abbotsford (holding the stick), 8:41; Testwuide, Abbotsford (tripping), 12:23.

OT Period--- None. Penalties—None.

Shootout---Chicago: Schroeder NG, Haydar NG, Davies NG, Mancari G; Abbotsford: Byron NG, Kolanos NG, Walter NG, Nemisz NG, Sylvester NG.

Shots on goal---Chicago: 10-11-10-3-1---35; Abbotsford: 9-9-2-3-0—23. Power plays---Chicago 1-2; Abbotsford 1-3. Goalies---Chicago, Lack (19-23); Abbotsford, Irving (30-34). A---4,088. Referee---Marcus Vinnerborg. Linesmen---Kiel Murchison and Chris Carlson.