Rosemont, Ill. ---The Chicago Wolves built a 3-0 third-period lead and held off a Rockford charge to claim a 5-3 American Hockey League victory Sunday afternoon at Allstate Arena.
Wolves forward Nathan Longpre produced the second two-goal game of his professional career, including what proved to be the game-winner at 9:46 of the third period in the Illinois Lottery Cup contest.
Center Andrew Ebbett and left wings Brett Sterling and Bill Sweatt added goals for the Wolves, who earned the fifth 2-0 start in the franchise’s 19-year history. In three of the four previous seasons with a 2-0 start, Chicago went on to claim the league championship (1998, 2002, 2008).
“At one time it looked like we were on our way to a 3-0 win,” said Wolves head coach Scott Arniel. “We took some penalties, which made things interesting, but I like the way we responded and finished the game.”
Wolves goaltender Eddie Lack (2-0-0), who posted a shutout in Saturday night’s season opener, extended his shutout streak to 110 minutes and 36 seconds before Rockford (0-1-0-1) posted a power-play goal at 5:36 of the third period.
After Ebbett opened the scoring in the first period, Longpre extended the Wolves lead to 2-0 with a shorthanded goal at 7:45 of the second period. Longpre stripped the puck from Jeremy Morin in Rockford’s defensive end and went top shelf over Rockford goaltender Carter Hutton (0-1-1).
Sterling pushed the margin to 3-0 at 2:44 of the third. He wristed the puck from along the boards near the end line and ricocheted it off Rockford defenseman Dylan Olsen’s skate past Hutton (14 saves).
Rockford’s Jeremy Morin scored twice in the third period and Marcus Kruger added a power-play goal, but the IceHogs never pulled into a tie. Sweatt added an insurance goal at 17:16 of the third.
The Wolves wrap up their season-opening homestand on Wednesday with a 7 p.m. Illinois Lottery Cup contest against Peoria at Allstate Arena. For tickets, call 1-800-THE-WOLVES or visit ChicagoWolves.com.
Rockford 0 0 3 -- 3
Chicago 1 1 3 -- 5
First Period---1, Chicago, Ebbett 1 (Sterling, Connauton), 7:46. Penalties---Morin, Rockford (roughing), 2:02; St Pierre, Rockford (holding the stick), 9:38; Desbiens, Chicago (roughing), 19:54; Shaw, Rockford (tripping), 19:54.
Second Period---2, Chicago, Longpre 1 (unassisted), 7;45 sh. Penalties---Connauton, Chicago (tripping), 2:05; Morin, Rockford (diving), 2:48; Connauton, Chicago (roughing), 6:57; Pinizzotto, Chicago (hooking), 8:51; Bollig, Rockford (interference), 13:14; Pirri, Rockford (elbowing), 17:18; Hayes, Rockford (roughing), 19:19; Kassian, Chicago (roughing), 19:19.
Third Period---3, Chicago, Sterling 1 (unassisted), 2:44; 4, Rockford, Morin 1 (St. Pierre, Kruger), 5:36 pp; 5, Rockford, Kruger 1 (St. Pierre, Leddy), 7:28 pp; 6, Longpre 2 (Pinizzotto, Connauton), 9:46; 7, Morin 2 (Leddy), 10:15; 7, Chicago, Sweatt 1 (Kassian), 17:16. Penalties---Andersson, Chicago (interference), 3:49; Sterling, Chicago (slashing), 6:08; Olsen, Rockford (tripping), 7:41; Bench, Chicago, (too many men), 11:18; Connauton, Chicago (delay of game), 19:39.
Shots on goal---Rockford: 6-7-15—28; Chicago: 8-4-7—19. Power plays---Rockford 2-7; Chicago 0-6. Goalies—Rockford, Hutton (14-19), Chicago, Lack (25-28). A---5,113. Referees---Graham Skilliter and Shaun Davis. Linesmen---Peter Cichy and Alex Stagnone.