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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Chicago perfect 6-0 with 4-1 win over Rampage

The Chicago Wolves went 6-0 for the season, defeating the San Antonio Rampage 4-1 at the AllState Arena Friday night. Wolves Center Alexandre Giroux potted two goals in a span of just 2:15 early in the first period to push the Wolves to their win.

Steve Martins and Joel Kwiatkowski each earned three points in the game, with a goal and two assists each. Fred Brathwaite, the Wolves goalie, meanwhile, stopped 30 Rampage shots on goal and backstopped a defense that shut down nine power plays, including two 5:3 power plays in the second frame.

San Antonio could not find any traction in their effort against the Wolves and although they largely kept up with the Wolves in the shots on goal, they could not find the back of the net.

Lack of discipline early in the first period created a series of three power plays for the Wolves in the first half of the first frame. Giroux potted his first puck during a power play and returned to the ice shortly to pot a second.

And, still the Rampage penalties continued to mount, with Kwiatkowski taking advantage of a power play to make the score 3-0 Wolves. Despite a television timeout just a whistle away, Rampage coach Greg Ireland called his guys together to try to regroup after the Kwiatkowski goal. Whatever Ireland said must have worked, in part, as the Wolves finally stopped lighting Rampage goalie David Aebischer like a Christmas tree, but continued to take penalties too.

After scoring a goal with less than three minutes in the period, and putting the game back in play, Rampage wing Peter Vandermeer started chasing Jordan LaValle. A line brawl ensued, but one in which most of the Wolves skated away from the roughing. Karel Pilar, who was on the ice when the brawl started, skated to the bench before realizing it. His return to the ice from the bench violated the rule prohibiting leaving the bench in a brawl and he was given a game misconduct. LaVallee, despite refusing to fight, was given two minutes in the sin bin.

However three San Antonio players were given time in the bin giving the Wolves an advantage through the end of the frame and into the next period too.

Starting the second period with the score 3-1 Wolves, it appeared as though San Antonio would repeat the first period’s lack of discipline: Steve Martins scored a goal in the period shortly after a power play expired. However, it was the Wolves who began visiting the sin bin in the second half of the frame. First Kwiatkowski was called for tripping. Then, about 17 seconds later, Nathan Oystrick was called for hooking.

When the Wolves had killed that penalty, they were given a penalty for too many men on the ice. About a minute later Kevin Doell was called for hooking, another 5:3 penalty kill. Rampage Center Joel Perrault had a terrific slap shot that caught Brathwaite on the wrong side of the net. Brathwaite sprawled on the ice as the referee looked through the back of the net.

As Perrault celebrated, Brathwaite opened his glove to reveal the puck inside. Replays showed clearly he never crossed the goal line. No goal!

As the period bell sounded, the pressure became too much for the Rampage. Josh Grafton and Andre Deveaux started to dance in the Wolves right circle. A full line dance started, with Wolves pairing up with Rampage players for a Texas two-step. When it was all straightened out Grafton and Deveaux were each given 10-minute misconducts to start the next period. Despite the two 5:3 San Antonio advantages, the score was now 4-1 Wolves.

Vandermeer made himself known again in the third period first with a high sticking call at 5:40 that, along with a penalty on a fellow player, created a 5:3. And then, at 11:21 into the period he charged Boris Valabik, striking him in the face with his gloves still on. This is a violation not only of the rules but also of the Code. His actions did put Valabik in the sin bin for five minutes, but generated two minors on himself for instigating and high-sticking, a game misconduct for instigating and a major for fighting. That put the Wolves on a 5:3 again for two minutes.

The Wolves could not score on either power play attempt.

In total there were 114 minutes of penalties called, Vandermeer receiving 33 minutes of the total. Brathwaite, who had brought the crowd to its feet several times, stopped 30 shots and received the win. Aebischer stopped 34 shots and received the loss.

“There were so many penalties that it was hard to get a rhythm out there,” Coach John Anderson said. Anderson said he was happy with the team’s efforts. The Wolves are the last team in the American Hockey League with a perfect record. It will be tested tonight at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee against the Milwaukee Admirals on the start of a season high seven-game road trip.

San Antonio 1 0 0 -- 1
Chicago 3 1 0 -- 4

First Period---1, Chicago, Giroux 2 (Kwiatkowski, Martins), 4:24 pp; 2, Chicago, Giroux 3 (Crabb, Martins), 6:39; 3, Chicago, Kwiatkowski 2 (Pilar), 7:48 pp; 4, San Antonio, DiSalvatore 2 (Helmer, Spina), 17:13. Penalties---Crabb, Chicago (tripping), 0:15; Yandle, San Antonio (hooking), 1:48; Bell, San Antonio (cross-checking), 3:27; Gratton, San Antonio (roughing), 7:25; Schultz, Chicago (highsticking), 8:38; Doell, Chicago (hooking), 10:38; Kwiatkowski, Chicago (hooking), 11:53; Yandle, San Antonio (holding), 18:48; Gratton, San Antonio (double-minor roughing), 18:48; Vandermeer, San Antonio (crosschecking, misconduct), 18:48; LaVallee, Chicago (roughing), 18:48; Pilar, Chicago (game misconduct), 18:48.

Second Period---5, Chicago, Martins 3 (Kwiatkowski, Crabb), 7:31. Penalties---DiSalvatore, San Antonio (closing hand on puck), 2:32; Durno, San Antonio (tripping), 5:28; Deveaux, Chicago (interference), 8:19; Helmer, San Antonio (holding), 10:49; Kwiatkowski, Chicago (tripping), 12:17; Oystrick, Chicago (hooking), 12:34; Bench, Chicago (too many men), 14:51; Doell, Chicago (hooking), 15:54; Gratton, San Antonio (misconduct), 20:00; Deveaux, Chicago (misconduct), 20:00.

Third Period---None. Penalties---Thomas, San Antonio (hooking), 5:40; Vandermeer, San Antonio (high-sticking), 5:40; Vandermeer, San Antonio (high-sticking, cross-checking, instigating, fighting, misconduct), 11:21; Valabik, Chicago (fighting), 11:21; Meyer, San Antonio (roughing), 15:14; Paddock, San Antonio (unsportsmanlike conduct), 15:34; Giroux, Chicago (unsportsmanlike conduct), 15:34.

Shots on goal---San Antonio: 13-9-9--31. Chicago: 12-12-14--38. Power plays---San Antonio: 0-9. Chicago: 2-14. Goalies---San Antonio, Aebischer (34-38). Chicago, Brathwaite (30-31). A---4,313. Referee---Chris Ciamaga. Linesmen---Al Stensland and Roger Behling.

Sightings-- Atlanta General Manager Don Waddell was seen leaving the AllState, accompanied to his car by Chicago Wolves General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff. The Atlanta Thrashers also had a number of former Wolves players in the stands and on the concourse. They play the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday night at the United Center.

Several things come immediately to mind, first a meeting between Waddell and Cheveldayoff was expected when the schedules were announced. Second, Waddell is expected to interview John Anderson this weekend for the Atlanta coaching job. Third, if the Atlanta Thrashers cannot win tomorrow against the Blackhawks, or worse, get stomped, there are going to be some big changes in the line-up in Atlanta and in Chicago. (What a great time for it, everyone will be packed as both teams are on road trips. Line them all up and assign them to either the Chicago bus or the Atlanta bus). And finally, why hasn't anyone mentioned Cheveldayoff as a coaching candidate?

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