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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.

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