Despite the absence of the big body of Alexandre Bolduc, the Chicago Wolves (9-7-0-2) managed to still control the physical play Saturday night at Allstate Arena against the Grand Rapids Griffins (13-4-1-1). Bolduc traveled to Montreal to deal with a family matter.
However, it was all for naught, as a late third period goal by Patrick Eaves proved to be the game-winner for Grand Rapids in a 2-1 victory. At the 17:52 mark of the final period, Chicago’s Ty Rattie slipped a pass to Dmitrij Jaskin in the offensive zone. Jaskin fired a shot that beat Griffins’ goaltender Petr Mrazek, but bounced off the left post. Mrazek went down to the ice after what appeared to be incidental contact from Rattie, whose skate clipped Mrazek on the play. After the referees consulted for a moment, Rattie was assessed a penalty for goaltender interference. Just over a minute later, with 49 seconds to play, Eaves would score off a big rebound.
“What really sucks is just the timing of the goal,” said Wolves defenseman Taylor Chorney. “It was a great hockey game and losing like that is tough.”
“I’m not happy right now, I’ll tell you that,” added Wolves head coach John Anderson
The Griffins dominated the opening five minutes of the game, but the Wolves seemed to wake up after Grand Rapids went ahead 1-0. After that point, Chicago started to win many of the board battles and races for loose pucks. Replacing the physicality of the 6-foot-3, 208-pound Bolduc was key.
“I thought we did a good job leading with our sticks first, controlling the puck, and finishing with the body,” said Anderson. “(Dmitrij) Jaskin was a big heavyweight out there and (Kyle) Beach had some big-time checks.”
The bottom line, however, was that the Wolves just could not find the back of the net.
“We’re getting physicality, but we’re not getting goals,” said Anderson.
“If we keep taking care of the puck and forechecking hard, the goals are going to come,” added Rattie.
Shane Harper scored the lone goal for Chicago late in the second period to tie the game at one. The Wolves dominated puck possession in the period and it finally paid off. However, the questionable penalty on Rattie in the third ended up costing the Wolves the game.
Even though the Wolves overcame the absence of Bolduc, his presence was missed.
When asked about the timetable for Bolduc’s return, Anderson said the team does not yet know.
“I’ll probably speak to him tomorrow, but we hope soon enough,” said Anderson.
The Wolves will continue their three-game home stand Wednesday night against the Iowa Wild.