The Chicago Wolves had been beyond sensational at Allstate Arena entering the postseason. Their pure dominance at home was the primary reason as to how Chicago captured the Western Conference’s second-seed, as well as home-ice advantage in each of the first two rounds of the playoffs. The Wolves closed the season 22-1-3-2 at Allstate Arena.
After winning two of three games at home in the opening round of the AHL playoffs, Chicago fell flat on consecutive nights at home and dug themselves a 2-0 hole against the Toronto Marlies in the Western Conference semifinals. Toronto took game two by a score of 4-2.
“We’ve got to do the same in their building,” said Shane Harper, who scored the first of Chicago’s two goals.
Much like the first game of the series, Toronto built an early lead and was able to extend. Just one minute, four seconds into the opening period, Carter Ashton forced a turnover in behind Wolves goaltender Jake Allen and got the puck to the front of the net where Peter Holland finished it off for the game’s first tally.
“We made some tremendous blunders early and it’s just so hard to come back from that,” said Wolves head coach John Anderson.
“They’ve got a really opportunistic team,” said defenseman Taylor Chorney. “We’ve got to limit our mistakes early in the game.”
Brandon Kozun fed Trevor Smith on the doorstep during a three-on-two rush to open up a two-goal advantage for Toronto and Josh Leivo roofed one past Allen to make it 3-0 before the end of the first frame.
A stronger second period for Chicago yielded no reward despite the Wolves slowing down the pace of the game and opting for a possession-oriented approach.
“We’ve got to find a way to do that to start the game,” said Chorney.
Again, much like in game one, Chicago was able to battle back and pull to within a goal of the Marlies in the third period.
Harper burst into the offensive zone after being sprung by Chorney pass through the neutral zone and finished top shelf past Marlies netminder Drew MacIntyre to get Chicago on the board.
“We needed one to jump us into attack mode,” said Harper.
Dmitrij Jaskin redirected a point shot on the power play with the net empty to make it a one-goal deficit, but the Wolves could not complete the comeback as Jerry D’Amigo put one into a vacated net to seal the game two victory for Toronto.
“We’ve just got to find a way to come out and fly in the first five minutes like we’ve been playing in the third periods,” said Chorney.
The series now heads to Toronto for the next three games with Chicago needing to take two in order to keep their playoff run alive.
“They showed it’s possible to go into an opposition’s building and win two games in a row,” said Chorney. “That’s something we have to take in Toronto.”
Chicago is 2-6 in series when dropping each of the first two games of the series.