Uggh! Another home loss for the Chicago Wolves. This time 6-3 against the North Division 2nd place team, the Hamilton Bulldogs. This makes the Wolves roughly 11-17 at home. Oh, yea, oh, yea, there have been overtime losses and shoot out losses but the operable word is losses.
With a slew of games at home to finish the season, the Wolves may be looking at a disappointing end to an exciting season.
The good news is Jason Krog is back. Why didn’t Courtney play the theme from “Welcome Back Kotter” for him on his first of two goals Saturday night? But then, I’m having a real problem with the selection of “Sweet Home Chicago” too.
Krog was the good news in an evening of hurt: two goals scored on the return of the third part of the triumvirate that dominated the Western Division through mid-December. And it was Krog, with an assist by Andy Delmore and line-mate Darren Haydar, who first drew blood. Krog played most of the past few months for the New York Rangers, having been seized off of the waiver wire by New York when Atlanta tried to send him to the Wolves.
There is a rule of thumb that players returning from the NHL take about ten games to get the NHL chip off of their shoulder. If that’s true for Krog, we are looking at an exciting month indeed. Krog’s power play goal, in the last minute of the first period, was off of a pass from Delmore. Krog buried the shot high in the net with his slap shot.
The bad news is our goalies are cold. Fred Brathwaite started the game in the pipes for Chicago. As I’ve previously discussed, he has cracked the top ten in AHL goalies during the season, but is currently a cold hand on the ice. Just 17 seconds into the second frame, Ajay Baines made a two-man breakaway on the face-off with Kyle Chipchura and sent a puck past Brathwaite with a wrister.
Less than four minutes later Hamilton scored again on Brathwaite. This time tossing the puck from side to side between Mikhail Grabovski, Matt Corey and finally Michael Lambert. It is hard to defend off such passing and no embarrassment that Brathwaite let the puck in. But, it was an indication of things to come.
Jaime Koharski should never even be mentioned in a game summary, but his poor officiating cost the Wolves at least two goals. Darren Haydar started a slew of calls against the Wolves that cost the team two goals in the middle frame. Haydar’s high sticking drew blood and a major penalty. No problem there. Then, there was a hooking call on Colin Stuart. Probably no problem there, the man was heading for the goal, Stuart spun him around. Then, a questionable slashing call on Derek MacKenzie. The Bulldogs capitalized on this extended power play, making two goals and putting themselves up 3-1.
As these penalties ended, Kevin Doell received a questionable major for high sticking, coincidentally at the same time Bulldog Jean-Phillippe Cote received an interference call. Although the Wolves turned this power play aside, the momentum of the game moved into Hamilton’s favor. A late period goal by Chicago’s Doell put the game back into question, but the damage was done.
In the final frame Bulldog Jonathan Ferland and then Lambert made the score 6-2. Koharski continued to show why his family has so little respect in hockey with a questionable call on Brett Sterling and an early end to a delayed penalty that was very questionable.
The final goal caused Chicago to call Brathwaite to the bench in favor of Michael Garnett. A final power play goal by Krog put the game at 6-3. Late period efforts by Chicago seemed more focused on having Krog score a hat trick then winning the game. Phillippe Sauve did an outstanding job for Hamilton in net, stopping 26 Chicago shots on goal for the win. Brathwaite received the loss with 21 saves. Garnett had 2 additional saves.
Hamilton has received a point in every game it has played against the Wolves this season. It was the second time this season Hamilton had doubled the score in a win against Chicago and the sixth time this season the team had lost by three or more goals. It was the team’s fourth loss in a row.
Krog picks up his string of points in games played at 26. During his time in the Thrashers and the Blue Shirts, he had just six points in 23 games played.