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Friday, December 28, 2007

Kwiatkowski hat trick in 4-3 win over MAds

Milwaukee—A hat trick by Joel Kwiatkowski allowed the Chicago Wolves to hold on and win, 4-3 win over the Milwaukee Admirals at the Bradley Center Friday night. It was the 23rd win this season by the Wolves.

Kwiatkowski scored his eighth, ninth and tenth goal of the season on Nashville Predators prospect Pekka Rinne in a matter of just nine minutes of the second period to lead the Wolves from a 2-1 deficit to a 4-2 lead.

The defenseman was backing up the Wolves first line of Darren Haydar, Jason Krog and Brett Sterling. All three goals were power play goals. The Wolves went three for seven on the power play against what Coach John Anderson called the best penalty kill in the American Hockey League.

“The guys played well, especially against the third period final onslaught,” Anderson said, “and the power play worked well tonight.”

The Wolves penalty kill worked well too, breaking the Admirals power play in six of seven attempts including a 5:3 in the second period. But a third period fight in front of the Milwaukee goal almost turned the tide on the Wolves as Scott Lehman was given a minor and a game misconduct, Chad Painchaud was given a major and Jesse Schultz was given a minor, allowing the Admirals to go on the power play. [Edit: originally this sentence had stated that Lehman had received a major and a game misconduct. A tip of the hat to Milwaukee Admirals fan and eagle eye Steve (CreedFeed) Caponetto for spotting the error.]

The Wolves started the penalty kill disorganized and only leading by a single point. However, a key save by Ondrej Pavelec that was cleared to the Milwaukee end of the ice revived the team and it was able to hold on.

But other problems plague the Admirals. The Milwaukee set play for power plays of bringing two men forward on the goalies right as the puck man moves through them to behind the net and attempts to drop pass it in the slot seemed too complicated. Plus, Rinne still seems to be having problems with the upper glove portion of the net.

Further, this is a team known for finishing its checks. Many of the same players are on the ice. But the physical play has left town.

Anderson, who received a penalty at the end of the game said he was upset that the referee, Chris Ciamaga did not call Nolan Yonkman during the third period fight. “No penalties were called on Milwaukee in the third period,” Anderson said, “I don’t mind the calls, it’s the missed calls that bother me.” [Milwaukee player Kelsey Wilson received a minor and a major due to the fight in the third period.]

Chicago 1 3 0 -- 4
Milwaukee 1 1 1 -- 3

First Period---1, Milwaukee, Santorelli 8 (Langfeld, O'Reilly), 11:40 pp; 2, Chicago, LaVallee 9 (Martins, Crabb), 19:39. Penalties---Sterling, Chicago (hooking), 0:18; Sulzer, Milwaukee (holding), 2:12; Peverley, Milwaukee (slashing), 5:40; Niskala, Milwaukee (hooking), 9:12; Pilar, Chicago (holding), 10:16.

Second Period---3, Milwaukee, Peverly 7 (Sulzer, Vigilante), 1:59; 4, Chicago, Kwiatkowski 8 (Pilar, Haydar), 7:40 pp; 5, Chicago, Kwiatkowski 9 (Krog, Haydar), 10:12 pp; 6, Chicago, Kwiatkowski 10 (Haydar, Krog), 16:40 pp. Penalties---Fahey, Chicago (fighting), 2:33; Wilson, Milwaukee (fighting), 2:33; Peverely, Milwaukee (tripping), 6:35; Yonkman, Milwaukee (roughing), 9:29; Fahey, Chicago (holding the stick), 10:58; Kwiatkowski, Chicago (hooking), 12:11; Thuresson, Milwaukee (tripping), 14:53; Bench, Milwaukee (too many men), 18:14; Fahey, Chicago (tripping), 19:44.

Third Period---7, Milwaukee, Langfeld 5 (Niskala, O'Reilly), 4:11. Penalties---Lehman, Chicago (roughing, game misconduct), 8:19; Painchaud, Chicago (fighting), 8:19; Schultz, Chicago (roughing), 8:19; Wilson, Milwaukee (roughing, fighting), 8:19; Fahey, Chicago (cross-checking), 19:09; Bench, Chicago (game misconduct), 20:00.

Shots on goal---Chicago: 9-9-11--29. Milwaukee: 7-9-15--31. Power plays---Chicago: 3-7. Milwaukee: 1-7. Goalies--Chicago, Pavelec (28-31). Milwaukee, Rinne (25-29). A---6,504. Referee---Chris Ciamaga. Linesmen---Chris Allman and Roger Behling.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Gordie Howe hat trick in up and down night; 4-3 OT win over Hogs

Chicago—Chicago Wolves defenseman Nathan Oystrick was credited with a Gordie Howe hat trick in a 4-3 overtime win over the Rockford IceHogs Thursday night at the Allstate Arena. Oystrick had a hot and cold performance that threatened to sink the Wolves at one point.

Rockford, with seven players called up by the Chicago Blackhawks, more than meets the definition of a decimated team. Five of the team’s six top point producers were not on the ice Thursday. The team captain, Jim Fahey, and a leading blue liner, Prestin Ryan, sat the game out. And winger Kris Verteeg was a scratch.

The IceHogs depended on a number of players who were just signed to professional tryouts, not even calling up their own players from the Blackhawks ECHL affiliate.

Yet, the IceHogs, behind Corey Crawford’s 35 saves, forced the Wolves into overtime, nearly stealing the game due to defensive blunders. Although the Wolves dominated the first period, putting ten shots on goal compared to just five for the Hogs, second period power plays by the Wolves seemed to break the game open.

The Wolves scored on three of seven power play opportunities. Finally winning the game on a power play in the overtime period. A Wolves 5:3 led to two goals in the second period. However, the Hogs answered late in the period, putting the score at 2-1 Wolves.

Then, as Oystrick made a behind the net pass, it was picked off by Derek Nesbitt in the slot, playing on a professional tryout, for a quick Rockford goal, his first in the American Hockey League; and, a tie score at the end of the second frame.

Whether Oystrick would have been credited with an unofficial Gordie Howe hat trick at that point was rendered mute in the third period as he assisted the Wolves to go ahead again. Then, the Wolves held the Hogs till a goal by Danny Richmond forced the game into overtime with under four minutes to play. It was the second time in the game a Rockford player had scored their first goal in the AHL.

An overtime penalty against Gavin Morgan gave Chicago a 4:3 advantage. Chicago put its first line out along with blue liner Joel Kwiatkowski in an effort to win. Brett Sterling, sitting on the goal, received a pass from Jason Krog for the game-winning goal.

"We should have put this game away in regulation, but it's a positive that we still found a way to win,” Sterling said.

The Hogs lead the Wolves by three points in the Western Division, with the Wolves having four games in hand against the Hogs.

Rockford 0 2 1 0 -- 3
Chicago 0 2 1 1 -- 4

First Period---None. Penalties---Hobson, Rockford (kneeing), 2:06; Brouwer, Rockford (hooking), 8:15; Domish, Rockford (hooking) 13:04; Deveaux, Chicago (charging), 17:35.

Second Period---1, Chicago, Martins 11 (Schultz, Little), 8:19; 2, Chicago, Oystrick 6 (Krog, Sterling), 9:52; 3, Rockford, Skille 8 (Richmond, Brouwer), 16:42 pp; 4, Rockford, Nesbitt 1 (unassisted), 17:42. Penalties---Richmond, Rockford (fighting), 3:30; LaVallee, Chicago (fighting), 3:30; Morgan, Rockford (slashing), 6:50; Fraser, Rockford (fighting), 11:24; Oystrick, Chicago (fighting), 11:24; Sterling, Chicago (tripping), 14:38; Kwiatkowski, Chicago (high-sticking), 15:08; Fahey, Chicago (hooking), 18:45.

Third Period---5, Chicago, Krog 13 (Oystrick, Haydar), 12:12; 6, Rockford, Richmond 1 (Fraser, Nesbitt), 16:10. Penalties---Stokes, Rockford (tripping), 6:47.

Overtime---7, Chicago, Sterling 19 (Krog, Haydar), 4:06 pp. Penalties---Morgan, Chicago (hooking), 2:34.

Shots on goal---Rockford: 5-15-7-3--30. Chicago: 10-10-14-5--39. Power plays---Rockford: 1-4. Chicago: 3-7. Goalies---Rockford, Crawford (35-39), Chicago, Pavelec (27-30). A---8,131. Referee---Jamie Koharski. Linesmen---Peter Chichy and Al Stensland. notched an assist on the tally to complete the Gordie Howe Hat Trick (goal, assist and fighting major). - tied the game at three apiece with 3:50 remaining in regulation.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Wolves back on track; Beat Peoria 7-4, Iowa 10-2

The Chicago Wolves overpowered the Peoria Rivermen 7-4 at the Allstate Arena Wednesday night as Darren Haydar joined fellow Atlanta Thrashers prospects Jason Krog and Brett Sterling in a relaunch of the 2007 first line. The line was responsible for six of the Wolves goals on Wednesday, with Krog scoring five points in the contest.

The game marked the return of Haydar, the Wolves Captain, from the Thrashers. The 2007 MVP joined a line that was already familiar to him. On a line with Sterling and Krog, he posted a franchise record number of consecutive goals in the previous season. Although Krog did not play in Atlanta this season, he played 23 games in the NHL last season.

Sterling played ten games in Atlanta this season. Other Wolves who have returned from Atlanta this season are Ondrej Pavelec, the top goalie prospect for the Thrashers, who played seven games; and Bryan Little, who played 29 games. Kari Lehtonen was assigned to the Wolves by Atlanta for a brief three game conditioning assignment following an early season injury.

Upheaval in the goaltender ranks may have led to the Wolves to drop three games earlier this month, culminating in a 4-3 loss against the league leading first-place Providence Bruins. However Pavelec who only lost one of the three games, got his feet under him and came back to keep the Wolves in a game against the Rochester Americans on the 13th in a 5-3 win in Rosemont, breaking the losing streak.

An unexcited Wolves turned around the next day and lost 4-1 to the Peoria Rivermen with Robert Gherson in net. Then, with Pavelec back in net, pounded the Iowa Stars 10-2, with Kevin Doell putting up a hat trick the next night.

That loss may have been enough for the Wolves to slip out of first place. Although the Chicagoans have two games in hand on the first place team and remain just two points behind in the standings.

It is the on and off nature of the Wolves this month that leaves fans wondering what is next. Wednesday’s game was no different, with the Wolves out playing the Rivermen, but unable to put the game away until late in the third period. Defensive faux pas are putting to much pressure on Pavelec, while the lines are juggled to handle the numerous veterans and top prospects being sent down by Atlanta, leading to big scoring games and still, close games.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

SLUMP! The Wolves drop three in a row

The Chicago Wolves dropped the third game in a row, and only their sixth loss this season in a 4-3 thriller in Providence, R.I. Friday. The Bruins, ranked first in the American Hockey League, and the Wolves, ranked second, were tied 1-1 through nearly 49 minutes of play when the Bruins broke the game open with three unanswered goals in a 2:13 span.

Although the Wolves put the game back into question with a goal in the last minute, the announcers in Providence were already chirping about the big win.

The chemistry that the Wolves have had through the first quarter of the season was disrupted by the return of Atlanta Thrasher goalie prospect Ondrej Pavelec, the departure of Atlanta Thrasher goalie Kari Lehtonen and the suspension of goalie Fred Brathwaite over a one-week period.

Brathwaite, who took the Wolves to the Calder Cup semi-finals in the 2007 season, was reported by the Daily Herald’s Scott Powers, to be suspended by the Atlanta Thrashers for not making the trip with the team. Cheveldayoff told the Daily Herald that it was his understanding that Brathwaite had accepted an offer to play in the Russian Super League.

The Atlanta Thrasher site, “Do the Thrashers have large talons?” said that foreign papers had confirmed that Brathwaite had broken his NHL contract to return to the Russian league that he had played in for two seasons. Brathwaite, and a number of other Canadian players, had been recruited by the Kazan Ak-bars to play in a bid to win the Russian league championship in 2004 and 2005.

The Russian league is currently the only major league in the world without an agreement with the NHL regarding honoring player contracts. “Do the Thrashers have large talons?” says other leagues are considering terminating their agreements with the NHL, raising the possibility of a worldwide bidding war for players.

Brathwaite had started recently in the Iowa Stars’ 3-2 comeback win over the Wolves December 1st. His 2.5 goals against average and 10-2 record ranked him 14th in the AHL among goalies on Saturday morning.

In addition to the one goal loss Friday against Providence and the one-goal loss against the Stars last Saturday, the Wolves lost a one-goal game, 3-2, versus the Syracuse Crunch at home on Tuesday.

The Syracuse Crunch loss featured Pavelec’s return to net for the Wolves. Pavelec had spent most of October and part of November in net with the Atlanta Thrashers following the injury to lead goalie Lehtonen. While in Atlanta, Pavelec had 3-3 record with a GAA of 3.11. With the departure of Brathwaite, Pavelec is cleared to be the chief net-minder for the Wolves.

Pavelec also lost the game against the Bruins Friday.

Despite the losses, the Wolves retained first place in the Western Conference and second place overall.