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Sunday, January 13, 2008

3 Up, 3 Down. Top Western teams, goalies meet in 2 contests

The American Hockey League’s North and West division leading teams, the Toronto Marlies and the Chicago Wolves, met at the Allstate Arena Saturday night leading to the third straight loss for the Marlies against West Division teams, a season high, and the third straight win last week for the Chicago Wolves.

With a 2-1 lead entering the second frame, it appeared that the battle of the two leading Western Conference teams would be won by the superior defense of the Marlies over the superior offense of the Wolves. Then, three unanswered second period Wolves goals in under five minutes reversed the fortunes of the Wolves. Bryan Little had a goal and three assists in the win. Toronto had entered the game trailing the Wolves by a point in the Western Conference. However its Western swing is earning it no respect, with losses so far in Milwaukee, Rockford and now Chicago.

“Our line played really well tonight, it seemed that every shift the bounces were going our way,” Little said. “A game like tonight gives me a lot of confidence… it all seemed to change tonight.”

With nearly half the season behind it, the Wolves are winning 75 percent of their games and have the second best power play in the AHL. They are in second place overall in the league, trailing only the Providence Bruins, who are in a bit of a slump, but are winning 78.2 percent of their games overall.

In Milwaukee, the Rockford IceHogs made their first visit to the Bradley Center this season, pulling out a 3-2, come from behind win over the Milwaukee Admirals in a shootout. Milwaukee’s Antii Pihlstrom opened the scoring with a short-handed goal. Hogs goalie Corey Crawford faced Ads goalie Pekka Rinne in the bout. Both goalies are listed as top winners, with 17 notches each. However, Rinne is also listed as topping the losing column with 14 losses this season.

The Admirals stifled the Hogs offence through two and half periods. Troy Brouwer brought the Hogs within one at the 11:26 mark of the third period. Then, pulling the goalie, the Hogs were able to send the game into overtime with a goal by Derek Nesbitt. Martin St. Pierre received two assists in the game. He has received points in every Hogs goal this weekend.

Despite a 4:3 power play in the overtime period, the Hogs were unable to convert their strength to a goal and had to win the game in a shootout.

The Wolves host the Milwaukee Admirals in a game Wednesday.

Toronto 2 1 1 -- 4
Chicago 1 3 1 -- 5

First Period---1, Chicago, Giroux 11 (Oystrick, Little), 11:28; 2, Toronto, Newbury 13 (Oreskovic), 11:47; 3, Toronto, Mitchell 12 (Williams, Earl), 13:12. Penalties---Foster, Toronto (holding), 7:47; Sterling, Chicago (hooking), 7:56; Haydar, Chicago (interference), 8:41; Mitchell, Toronto (holding), 9:26; Mitchell, Toronto (cross-checking), 15:59; Battaglia, Toronto (interference), 19:55.

Second Period---4, Chicago, Little 4 (Crabb, Lehman), 2:29; 5, Chicago, Schultz 14 (Little, Giroux), 7:08; 6, Chicago, Martins 14 (LaVallee, Crabb), 7:26; 7, Toronto, Boyce 8 (Leveille, Harrington), 14:57. Penalties---LaVallee, Chicago (tripping), 2:52; Crabb, Chicago (high-sticking), 7:32; Newbury, Toronto (roughing), 8:51; Desbiens, Chicago (roughing), 8:51; Aubin, Toronto (boarding), 10:42; Valabik, Chicago (hooking), 12:56; Ondrus, Toronto (hooking), 15:56; Haydar, Chicago (slashing), 17:16.

Third Period---8, Chicago, Fahey 9 (Schultz, Little), 12:02; 9, Toronto, Harrison 5 (Newbury, Harrington), 16:27 pp. Penalties---Battaglia, Toronto (hooking), 1:23; Newbury, Toronto (hooking), 10:09; Sterling, Chicago (slashing), 11:09; Earl, Toronto (tripping), 12:08; LaVallee, Chicago (roughing), 15:51; Sifers, Toronto (slashing), 18:51; Newbury, Toronto (game misconduct), 20:00

Shots on goal---Toronto: 14-11-8--33. Chicago: 12-10-14--36. Power plays---Toronto: 1-8. Chicago: 0-10. Goalies---Toronto, Clemmensen (31-36). Chicago, Pavelec (29-33). A---9,118. Referee---Nygel Pelletier. Linesmen---Peter Cichy and Al Stensland

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