ROSEMONT, Ill. — In a battle for first place in Central Division standings, the Chicago Wolves came back from an early deficit for a 5-2 win over the Grand Rapids Griffins at Allstate Arena on Wednesday night.
Now leading the pack with 50 points, the Wolves (23-13-3-1) jumped into first place with the help of Gage Quinney and the league’s leading goal-scorer, Daniel Carr, as the two combined for six of the team’s eight points on the night and helped bust the Griffins’ three-game win streak over Chicago.
To close out its Illinois road trip, Grand Rapids (21-13-3-4) will travel northwest to Rockford, where it’ll face the IceHogs on Friday at 8 p.m. EST. The following night, the Griffins will return to Van Andel Arena and host the Milwaukee Admirals at 7 p.m. to kick off the Great Skate Winterfest event.
The Griffins jumped out to an early lead barely two minutes into the first period. From behind goaltender Patrik Rybar’s net, Vili Saarijarvi chucked a pass off the right-wing boards to Matthew Fordnear the Wolves’ blue line. From there, Ford fed the puck to Dominic Turgeon, and the forward threaded it inside the right post of Oscar Dansk’s net to give Grand Rapids a 1-0 advantage.
Twenty-three minutes and 45 seconds later, the Wolves found twine for their first goal of the game while on a 5-on-3 advantage. At 5:52 of the second period, Carr passed the puck from the right-wing boards to the left-wing circle, where Dylan Coghlan cashed in on a one-timer to force the Griffins’ penalty kill to a 3-for-4 finish on the night.
Less than two minutes later, Gage Quinney knocked the puck out of Libor Sulak’s control near Chicago’s blue line and tucked it behind Rybar’s right leg on a breakaway, giving the Wolves their first lead of the game at 6:54.
At 14:13, with his second goal of the year, Givani Smith extinguished the Wolves’ lead and knotted the score at 2-2. As Axel Holmstrom battled for control of the puck off a faceoff in Chicago’s zone, it rolled out to the border of the right-wing circle where Smith picked it up and hurled it past Dansk to tie the two teams.
Just 15 seconds later, Tyler Wong regained the lead for the Wolves and closed scoring in the middle frame. Eric Brannstrom took a shot from the right point that flew through traffic, and Wong deflected it into the upper-right corner of Rybar’s net to give Chicago a 3-2 lead after forty minutes.
The Wolves pushed the score to 4-2 as Quinney notched his second goal of the night at 8:35 of the third period. Brooks Macek forwarded the puck to Quinney from behind the Griffins’ goal line, and Quinney sent it straight over Rybar’s right shoulder to extend Chicago’s lead to two.
With 19 seconds left, Carr tacked on an empty-net goal to finish the score at 5-2, while Dansk collected 28 saves for the win. Rybar finished with 22 saves on the night.
Notes: The power play finished the matchup 0-for-3...Grand Rapids’ record on the road slipped to 8-10-2-1...Griffins first-year head coach Ben Simon and assistant coach Brad Tapper won the Calder Cup as players with the Wolves in 2002, their second consecutive season capturing a league championship together after winning the IHL’s Turner Cup with the Orlando Solar Bears in 2001.
Three Stars: 1. CHI Quinney (two goals, one assist); 2. CHI Carr (one goal, two assists); 3. CHI Coghlan (goal)