Fans were treated to some determined hockey on Sunday afternoon at Allstate Arena as the Chicago Wolves used a dominant first period and Jake Allen’s sound play en route to a 6-2 victory to pull two points closer to the Midwest Division-leading Grand Rapids Griffins. Following the win, Chicago (37-19-5-3) now trails the Griffins (41-19-2-4) by six points, but have two games in hand.
“We knew this was our last chance to play them and we wanted to send a message,” said Ty Rattie.
“We played very disciplined, held the puck, and did exactly what we wanted to do,” added Wolves head coach John Anderson.
Adam Cracknell opened up the scoring 4:19 into the game on a double-redirect in front of the net with Sergey Andronov. Minutes later, Michael Davies put a nifty deke on goaltender Petr Mrazek to give the Wolves an early 2-0 lead.
Rattie, Chicago’s rookie sensation, decided he wanted to get in on the action soon after. He showed tremendous patience on his first goal, waiting until he had Mrazek beat and then sliding the puck through traffic and into the back of the net. The damage was not done yet though for the opening period as Rattie would tally his second goal of the game and 27th of the season just over six minutes later to become the AHL’s leading goal scorer among rookies.
“We’ll see what happens,” said Rattie. “I know I’m in the running.”
Despite the five-goal gap on the scoreboard after Pat Cannone extended the Wolves’ lead further early in period two, Jake Allen needed to remain sharp to keep Grand Rapids at bay. The Griffins scored twice, but Allen turned away 17 shots in the frame to help Chicago maintain a fairly comfortable lead. Grand Rapids put 19 shots on net to the Wolves’ three.
“Jake stood on his head just like he’s done all year for us,” said Rattie.
A spectacular second period was followed by as good a third for Allen, who stopped all 16 shots he faced in the final 20 minutes to keep Grand Rapids from making things interesting. In the third, Allen was up to the task early, stopping a flurry of shots that extended Grand Rapids lead in the shot count to 39-18. Allen also shut down all three Griffins’ power plays during the period to preserve Chicago’s lead. He finished with 41 saves, tying his season-high.
“Just trying to play as consistent as possible every night and give the guys a chance,” said Allen. “You want to get that division, that’s our goal.”
“No question, Jake’s got the belt in the room,” added Anderson.
Cody Beach notched a goal for the third consecutive game to put the game away as the Wolves came out with the 6-2 win, although the score was not indicative of the play.
The Wolves will have a day off tomorrow after picking up five of a possible six points in a three-in-three stretch this weekend before preparing for Lake Erie Wednesday night.