Right now, nothing seems to be going the Chicago Wolves’ way. On breast cancer awareness night Saturday at Allstate Arena, the Wolves suffered a 3-2 defeat to the Grand Rapids Griffins, their fourth loss over their last five games.
The Wolves were in no shortage of chances, but could not find a way to get the job done. Chicago had four clear-cut opportunities to tie the game, but failed to find the back of the net.
“Four breakaways and we don’t score on any, that’s the difference in the game,” Wolves coach John Anderson said. “If we finish on some of our chances, the whole complexion of the game changes.”
Cory Emmerton opened up the scoring midway through the first period for Grand Rapids when he took a pass from Teemu Pulkkinen off a defensive zone turnover by Chicago and rifled it right past Wolves goalie Matt Climie. The goal was Emmerton’s third of the season.
Chicago’s leading scorer Corey Locke scored his third goal of the season as well late in the first period with a nifty move and quick wrist shot past Griffins goalie Tom McCollum.
Both goalies had to be on their feet early as the teams combined for 24 shots in the opening period. The Wolves (3-4-0-1) seemed to play very aggressive early on, creating some solid chances. However, multiple failed centering attempts in front of the net limited them to single-shot offensive rushes. Grand Rapids (3-2-1-1) on the other hand, played a more controlled game with excellent spacing.
In the second period, penalties were the theme, as Chicago went on the man advantage four times in the period while Grand Rapids did so twice. However, the Wolves only converted once on their four power plays, and were just one-for-five on the game.
Brent Regner’s power play goal off an offensive zone draw flew by McCollum, giving the Wolves a 2-1 lead. But just ten seconds later, the Griffins came right back. Tomas Jurco won a battle along the boards and fed Calle Jarnkrok right in front of the net. Jarnkrok’s shot squeezed just inside the right goalpost to tie the game at 2-2.
Climie came up big for Chicago with 4:45 to play in the second period when he stuffed a penalty shot by the Griffins’ Martin Frk, who was awarded the shot thanks to a penalty inside the crease on Mark Mancari for an illegal use of the hands.
Just forty seconds until the end of the period, Jurco whiffed on a wide open opportunity in front of the Chicago net, but made up for it later on the power play when he scored the game-winning goal off a big rebound from Climie. It has been a struggle for Climie this season, who has dropped his first three decisions and sits with a goals-against-average of 3.73.
In the final period, the Wolves outshot Grand Rapids 8-6, but could not find the equalizer despite a dominant time of possession and three breakaway chances.
“It’s frustrating,” Wolves center Keith Aucoin said. “We have the talent and skill to get the job done, we just have to find out a way to do it. It’s still early, but pretty soon you can’t say it’s too early.”