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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Wolves end first half, thrashing Iowa 7-3

The Wolves ended the first half of the season with a 7-3 thrashing of the Iowa Stars Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Arena. A game that ended in a pugilistic third period, was marked by a Wolves goal in the first minute of play.

Steve Martins returned to the ice in style Saturday night and with rookie call-up Jon Awe, assisted Chicagoan Colin Stuart as he put one past Stars goaltender Dan Ellis for an early lead. Joel Lundquist, whose family is already well represented in the NHL, hungrily showed he was ready to return to the NHL with an unassisted slapper from the high slot to even the score. It was the first goal given up by Wolves goalie Fred Brathwaite in 83 minutes of play.

The Stars dominated the first period and surged to their only lead less than five minutes later when an Iowa blueliner, Mark Ardelan, in a traffic jam, put the puck between Brathwaite and Wolves defender Guillaume Desbiens. The only penalty of the period was called on Colin Stuart less than a minute later, but the Wolves held the Stars off. With less than two minutes left in the first frame, Kevin Doell put a rebound by Ellis, tying the score 2-2. At the end of 20 minutes Brathwaite had already stopped 19 shots on goal, while Chicago had only put seven at the net.

In the second frame, Iowa got into early penalty trouble when Matt Nickerson was called for elbowing with less than 16 minutes on the clock. However, after holding the Wolves for less than a minute, Brett Sterling was called for hooking. Iowa was unable to capitalize on its short power play opportunity, in fact allowing Martins to breakaway and score a shortie.

Iowa received another power play opportunity with 12.40 left to play as Stuart was given four minutes in the sin bin for butt ending. Lundquist cut into the power play with a penalty, however the Stars maintained the momentum and scored on an even strength goal by Junior Lessard, tying the game at three each. Lundquist took another minor, although Chicago was unable to capitalize on it. Late in the period, with a minute and a half left Chicago scored the game winning goal which was passed from Darren Haydar to Sterling and on to Cory Larose. Larose put the puck above Ellis, but below the crossbar. Although Chicago finally ended the frame on top of Iowa, it was a near fought thing as Iowa had put seven shots and one goal on the Wolves, while the Wolves had responded with 11 shots and two goals.

The Wolves dominated the final frame, which started with coincidental minors called on Sterling and Marius Holtet. Less than a minute later Lessard bumped Brathwaite, getting a two minute visit to the sin bin. Less than six seconds after the expiration of the penalty, Martins, assisted by Troy Milam and Derek MacKenzie, put one past Ellis. Just 29 seconds later Alex Bourret, assisted by Desbiens put another home, leaving Iowa permanently behind now by 6-3.

Larose and Holtet danced about throwing punches and a minor on the Wolves and two minors on the Stars preceded another Bourret goal with less than 90 seconds to go. A final fight, this time between Desbiens and Francis Wathier marked the end of the contest. Brathwaite stopped 34 shots for his win, while Ellis stopped 22 for his loss.

The game, part of a nine game “Ice Capades” road trip, is interrupted by the American Hockey League All-Star game, played in Toronto this weekend. Three Wolves will take part in the All-Star game, Haydar, Sterling and blueliner Nathan Oystrick. Another Wolves player, Jason Krog, was also given the nod to play in the contest, but is now playing for the New York Islanders of the NHL, instead.

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