Saturday night, the Chicago Wolves (28-16-4-2) fell to Milwaukee Admirals (23-15-6-5) by a score of 3-2 in overtime in game seven of the Amtrak Rivalry to drop their record to 5-0-1-1 in the season series. All seven games have been decided by a single goal, and this was the fifth that went past regulation.
“It’s my twelfth year coaching in Chicago, and whether one team is better than the other, games have always been close,” said Wolves coach John Anderson. “That’s just the way they are.
It was a tough loss for an injury-filled Wolves team, who were down to just four defensemen by second period.
“You never want to make excuses, but to play two periods with four (defensemen) against a team like that that grinds it out, it’s tough,” said Wolves captain Taylor Chorney.
Wolves’ goaltender Matt Climie was large early on, stuffing Michael Liambus with a quick left pad save nearly six minutes in. Climie needed to be sharp, as the Wolves managed just two shots on goal in the game’s first ten minutes.
However, with their eleventh shot, Milwaukee finally solved the Wolves’ netminder. Off a rebound, Filip Forsberg snuck the puck around the outstretched skate of Climie to give the Admirals a 1-0 lead at the 15:17 mark of the opening period.
Chicago responded quickly, taking just 31 seconds to find the tying goal. Ty Rattie’s point shot hit off the skate of Milwaukee’s Bryan Rodney, and Shane Harper found the loose puck as well as the back of the net. It was Harper’s seventh of the season.
Early in the second period, Ty Rattie channeled his inner baseball swing, batting a puck out of midair off the original shot from David Shields and into the net. The goal was Rattie’s team-leading 19th of the season.
“That was unbelievable,” said Chorney. “He does a lot of impressive stuff like that and scores a lot of goals for us, but I’ve never seen a guy bat one into the net from that far out before.”
“We expect that of him,” added Anderson with a smile.
Although Climie would allow the tying goal five minutes after Rattie’s tally, he came up key on two penalty kills in the period, eating up a couple of point-blank shots to keep the score 2-2.
After a scoreless third period, the game headed to overtime, and with just 21.1 seconds left in the extra frame, Austin Watson’s backhand centering pass slid right off Chorney’s skate and through Climie’s five-hole to end it.
“I thought we battled hard, got a point out of it, and we’ll get back at it tomorrow,” said Anderson.
After Grand Rapids lost earlier to San Antonio, the Wolves had the chance to pull within two points of the division leaders, but failed to do so with the overtime loss.
“We’re aware, we’ve got standings up in the locker room here and at our practice rink,” said Chorney. “We know exactly where we’re at and where they’re at.”
Chicago and Milwaukee will meet again Sunday afternoon at Allstate Arena.