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Friday, April 27, 2007


The Chicago Wolves swept the Milwaukee Admirals in four games to advance in the American Hockey League Western Division playoffs. The Wolves now face the winner of the Iowa Stars- Omaha Ak-sar-Ben Knights playoffs. The Stars lead that series 3-0.

The game three victory came Tuesday night in the Bradley Center, a 3-2 win with Milwaukee scoring its only power play goal of the series. A late third period power play goal by Brett Sterling, however, won the game for the Wolves.

The game four victory, also at the Bradley Center, was a 3-2 overtime come from behind victory as Darren Haydar tied the game early in the third period, and Brian Fahey won it in the extra period.

Wolves coach John Anderson started Michael Garnett in the pipes for all four games in the series. Garnett held the Admirals to seven goals, including a penalty shot goal, in the series on 110 shots. The Admirals had 22 power plays, but only scored on one.

The Wolves beat Nashville prospect Pekka Rinne in each of the contests. He gave up 13 goals on 115 shots. Chicago had 26 power plays, but only converted three to goals.

The Wolves scored first in each game. The Tuesday night game was the only game in which they didn’t score in the first frame. Their win in game four was the first game in 18 outings, that the team was trailing, heading into the third frame, and came back to win.

After a number of great saves by both goalies in the first and second periods, the puck was stripped in the Admirals zone by Jason Krog, who poked it to Darren Haydar, along the boards and close to the circle. Haydar one-timed it to Jordan LaVallee between the hash marks who wristed it in past Rinne more than ten minutes into the second frame. Four minutes later Brian Sipotz interrupted a play with a great check on Pat Leahy into the near boards. The puck spun around the perimeter to Mark Popovic behind the Wolves goal, who sent it on to Haydar, near the blue line. Chasing the puck, Haydar caught it near the center line and found no one between him and Rinne. He quickly closed in and scored making the score 2-0 at the end of the second frame.

Milwaukee has outscored the Wolves 5-3 in the third periods of the series, with its best efforts coming then. Forty-eight of its 110 shots occurred in third periods of the series. Tuesday night, once again, Milwaukee dominated the third period, scoring. Rich Peverly set up the first Milwaukee goal, crossing the far end of the blue line, he brought the puck along the boards and into the far circle. Passing the puck cross ice to Leahy, Leahy fired a one-timer at Garnett who deflected it with his pads. The puck spun into the corner where Cory Larose picked it up and passed it to center ice where an Admiral deflected it to Chris Durno.

Durno passed it cross ice to Leahy, who was skating through the far circle toward Garnett. Leahy’s one-timer was a lovely shot that appears to have gone under Garnett’s pads, making the score 2-1. However, Leahy set-up the game winning goal, when he was called for high-sticking late in the period while Milwaukee was trying to put an extra man advantage against Chicago.

Instead, with less than three minutes to play, Chicago had a man advantage. Nathan Oystrick, entering the Milwaukee zone at the near blue line made a cross-ice pass that threaded through a number of defenders to Brett Sterling, who was moving through the far circle. Sterling’s one-timer beat Rinne cold to make the score 3-1. Minor penalties, first on LaVallee and then Popovic, with less than 90 seconds, gave Milwaukee a continuous power play till the end of the game. Although Durno was able to score, with just 22 seconds remaining, the Wolves held on to win 3-2.

With the Wolves leading the series 3-0, Wednesday was a do or die game for the Admirals. It looked like the Admirals were going to win and certainly dominate the first period, with a doubling of the shots on goal against the Wolves. However, Rinne came out of the net, to the far end of the circle to play a puck. He blew a tire and took down the only Admirals player nearby, leaving Brett Sterling alone in the zone with the puck. It was an easy goal for a 1-0 lead.

Moments later, Kevin Klein put one into traffic that struck the skate of a Chicago defender and deflected into the net, first reports had credited the goal to Ramzi Abid. In the second period, Cal O’Reilly made a screened cross-ice pass to Brandon Segal in the far circle. Segal made a one-timer that beat Garnett cold, giving Milwaukee its only lead in the series, 2-1.

Milwaukee held its lead into the third frame. With a little under six minutes remaining, Chicago got a power play. Working the boards, the puck found its way to Jason Krog, but was deflected by Rinne. Rinne and Krog fell in a heap outside the goal mouth, while the puck skittered away to Haydar, just to the near side of the goal line. He fired a shot that found its way under Krog and Rinne and into the goal to tie the game 2-2.

In the overtime, Guillaume Desbiens fought for a loose puck along the boards. He popped it out, centering it to Brian Fahey, who was between the hash marks. Fahey’s goal ended the Milwaukee season—just—like—that.

Rinne’s performance has to concern the Nashville Predators. He was unable to withstand the pressure of the playoffs. On the other hand, Michael Garnett is a much more valuable goaltender today, than a month ago. Although both goalies made great saves, the bottom line is one won four, one lost four.

Rookie Matt Anderson, who is not related to coach John Anderson, received a goal and an assist in three games, with a +1. Rookie Sterling is again keeping pace with his more experienced teammates with three goals and two assists. Haydar, who was on the Admirals last season, was responsible for four goals and three assists.

The Chicago top line of Haydar, Krog and Sterling were responsible for seven of Chicago’s goals. LaVallee joined the line for one goal in game three when Sterling was temporarily sidelined. Krog put himself on the line several times, notably in game four, to stop power play opportunities and finally setup a goal.

Now that the Gwinnett Gladiators and the Atlanta Thrashers are out of the playoffs, the reinforcements have arrived. Derek MacKenzie has not hit the transaction wire from Atlanta. However, three Gwinnett players are in the black aces seats: Dan Turple, Colton Fretter and Scott Lehman.

Looking ahead, here is how Chicago fared against each of its potential opponents in the regular season:

Wolves record against Omaha:
2006-11-03 Chicago @ 3 Omaha 1 Final
2006-11-22 Chicago @ 6 Omaha 3 Final
2007-01-05 Chicago @ 5 Omaha 1 Final
2007-01-26 Chicago @ 5 Omaha 0 Final
2007-03-16 Chicago @ 5 Omaha 4 Final OT
2006-10-15 Omaha @ 4 Chicago 2 Final
2006-12-15 Omaha @ 1 Chicago 9 Final
2007-02-24 Omaha @ 2 Chicago 0 Final
2007-02-25 Omaha @ 4 Chicago 2 Final
2007-04-15 Omaha @ 4 Chicago 2 Final

And against Iowa:
2006-11-14 Chicago @ 8 Iowa 2 Final
2006-12-12 Chicago @ 7 Iowa 3 Final
2007-01-23 Chicago @ 2 Iowa 3 Final SO
2007-01-27 Chicago @ 7 Iowa 3 Final
2007-03-23 Chicago @ 2 Iowa 3 Final
2006-10-28 Iowa @ 5 Chicago 4 Final OT
2006-11-26 Iowa @ 6 Chicago 3 Final
2006-11-29 Iowa @ 2 Chicago 5 Final
2006-12-05 Iowa @ 2 Chicago 5 Final
2007-04-14 Iowa @ 0 Chicago 5 Final

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