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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Power plays and shorthanded goals

The Wolves are stopping 88.1 percent of power plays, good enough for fifth in the league. Their power play, at 4 percent, however is dead last.

The Wolves have scored three shorthanded goals this season. That is tied with the Albany River Rats for second most in the league. The Hamilton Bulldogs lead the league with four short-handed goals so far this season.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wolves in 6-0 shutout of P-Bruins

The Chicago Wolves shelled Tuukka Rask from the net, winning a contest with the Atlantic division leader 6-0 in play this evening at the Allstate Arena.

It was nearly all Chicago Wolves, all night long, as scoring started early and ended late. With a power play to their advantage, the Providence Bruins gave up the puck to Colin Stuart who swept in to score on a P-Bruin goalie who looked out of his depth. Although there were nice body shots by the Bruins, they were unable to prevent numerous shots on goal in the period, with Rask deflecting the shots upward and out of his control.

Boris Valabik was on his game all night, starting with a boomer from the blue line that was deflected in by Junior Lessard through the five hole. Within a minute, Chicago was back with yet another scoring opportunity. A big check sent the puck skittering in front of the net and resulted in a 3:2 breakaway by the Bruins. But they could not convert it as they bungled the effort in front of Ondrej Pavelec.

Then, late in the period, with the teams playing 4:4, Joe Motzko fired a slap shot from the left circle, assisted by Valabik, for the third goal of the period.

The Bruins settled down in the second period, with Kevin Regan replacing Rask in net. Allowing the Wolves just ten shots on goal, they took a number of breakaway opportunities to attack Pavelec, yet failed to score.

In the third period, Motzko pops an easy wrister from center ice. It should have been stopped, but somehow finds the five-hole for another goal. Regan just looks pissed, he should have stopped it and he knows it. Seconds later, Valabik dings the goal posts in a boomer from the blue line. The Wolves are just dominating the Bruins now. A shutout looks likely. Bruins Levi Nelson hammers on the puck, trying to pound it through Pavelec’s leather. But Pavelec kneels on the puck, preventing it from moving.

Then, the Bruins get a man advantage, Pavelec is able to stop their shots in the goalmouth. A second power play follows. Again, Pavelec stops the Bruins. The Wolves are looking tired from all the penalty kills. The second PK is not as well orchestrated. And then a third PP by the Bruins. Pavelec is a wall. Nothing is getting past him.

Now, a breakaway by Matt Anderson. He skates through the right circle on the attack and blows a tire. On one knee, he fires backward toward the side of the goal. The puck finds a hole through the leather of Regan. As he looks around for it, the referee spots it, in the clear, just inside the goal line. The Baby Bruins just can’t get a break tonight.

Now, with just a little over two minutes to play, it is Valabik again. He booms another shot from the left side. He must be taking lessons from Denny. It is now 6-0. The P-Bruins appeared relieved that there are just two minutes to play.

What a change for Valabik. Three points. The score sheet credits him with three shots on goal, but you can read this narrative and see it was at least four shots on goal. Stuart is credited with eight shots on goal and Anderson with five shots on goal. Lessard, Anderson and Motzko receive two points each. Pavelec stops 35 shots for the victory. Both Rask and Regan stopped 15 shots each. I suppose the loss goes to Rask.

Hockey moms: Don't speak for me...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Wolves-- Less bang for the buck

The fireworks at the Chicago Wolves have always been one of their draws. Now complaints from fans that they are too quiet. Unlike at other arenas that use horns, the Wolves celebrate goals with fireworks, usually a brief three or four bangs. However, the bang is softer, according to fans.

Leading to a new marketing theme for the Wolves, Less Bang for the Buck.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

IceHogs take Wolves 3-2 in shootout

The Chicago Wolves fell 3-2 in a shootout to the Rockford IceHogs in Sunday matinee action at the Allstate Arena. Wolves Joe Motzko and IceHogs Jack Skille had two goals each in the regulation periods. Skille also scored a shootout goal, along with fellow Hog Tim Brent and Wolf Junior Lessard.

Petri Kontiola panned a pass to Skille in front of the Chicago crease for the first of the goals and again from Kontiola to Skille for the second goal. Kontiola had two shots of his own on goal, while Skille and Mike Brennan had four shots on goal each. Brent and Pascal Pelletier each took three shots on Ondrej Pavelec in the contest. Brennan and Bryan Bickell received assists in the contest.

Motzko scored his second goal during a battle in the crease, picking up a rebound for the goal. Motzko, this year’s go-to guy, had seven shots on goal in the game. Illinois native Colin Stuart had six shots on goal. Jordan LaVallee, Joey Crabb, Jamie Rivers and Grant Lewis notched three shots each.

Anderson was credited with two assists in the game while Lewis and Arturs Kulda received one each.

Antti Niemi was given the win, stopping 34 shots on goal, compared to the 29 stopped by Ondrej Pavelec of the Wolves.

Boris Valabik, the third year blueliner, showed grit, working on the four successful Chicago penalty kills. The Hogs killed one power play.

The Hogs offensive posture in the PP ended up almost costing them, as there were four serious shorthanded attacks during the power play, with turnovers in the defensive zone leaving Niemi open to a quick Chicago probe. In addition, the side to side weakness of Pavelec and the poor Wolves defense in the short area in front of the goalmouth led to the two Hogs goals.

The sudden defensive end change of possessions showed Niemi to be cool under pressure, with nice pad saves and good deflections of the puck to prevent rebound opportunities.

The Hogs had a line of Brennan, Skille, Bickell, Kontiola and Jean-Claude Sawyer out for each of their goals. The Wolves defensive line was different for the two goals, but the offensive line was Motzko, Matt Anderson and Spencer Machacek.

Wolves take MAds 5-3

The Chicago Wolves defeated the Milwaukee Admirals 5-3 at the Bradley Center last night. Joe Motzko and Colin Stuart, who had five shots on goal each, led the offence. Junior Lessard had two goals for the Wolves. Blue liner Chad Denny scored an unassisted goal in the first period. Motzko had a goal on a late power play. Grant Stevenson scored an empty net goal for the Wolves.

Ondre Pavelec stopped 18 shots on goal for the win.

For Milwaukee, d-man Alexander Sulzer had four shots on goal and an assist. Nick Spaling scored a power play goal. Geoff Peters and Josh Gratton also scored goals. Vet goalie Drew MacIntyre stopped 28 shots on goal for the loss.

IceHogs sink NAds 4-0

The Rockford IceHogs in action at the MetroCentre last night crushed the Norfolk Admirals. The 4-0 loss was the first meeting between the two clubs. The Norfolk Admirals were the AAA affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks prior to the 2007-8 season. The IceHogs are the current AAA affiliate of the Blackhawks.

Michael Blunden had seven shots on goal for the IceHogs, followed by Tim Brent and Rob Klinkhammer at five each. Blunden and Brent scored a goal and two assists each in the contest. Tim Hambly also had two assists. Jean-Claude Sawyer and Petri Kontiola had a power play goal each. Brent’s goal was a short-handed goal.

Antti Niemi stopped 26 shots for the shutout.

For Norfolk, Mike McKenna stopped 39 shots on goal for the loss. Jamie Heward had four shots on goal, Brandon Segal and Paul Szczechura had three shots each.

The IceHogs lead the Western Conference with 12 points in seven games. They are tied for first place in the league with the Hershey Bears.

Niemi is third among AHL goalies, with a 95.3 save percentage.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Politics and hockey don't mix well

Time for hockey to restart, in fact it has restarted. First though, how can anyone ignore the new connection of hockey and politics? Certainly not Manny Legace, who did ignore the connection, apparently tripping on the red carpet laid out by the St. Louis Blues for GOP Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

According to the AP writer Jim Salter and as reported in Salon, Legace was warned that the carpet hadn’t been rolled up yet, but proceeded onto the ice in any case and promptly tripped on the carpet. Now he is injured. The sense of the story is that he was injured in his fall on the carpet.

There aren’t that many opportunities to write about politics and hockey and I promise to try to keep these non-political. You can always look at the personal blog for a sense of how I swing, if that matters (google the name Patrick Kissane, I’m sure you’ll find it). But there is also a great political cartoon out there on Governor Palin that I think expresses every sports fan’s idea about the Philadelphia sports fan: http://content.cartoonbox.slate.com/?feature=38dc37300da25400d07b9f0387b43e9c

Due to copyright, I won’t reproduce it, but please, it is funny as hell and worth the click. (Slate has a great library of editorial cartoons, if you like that sort of thing. There have been several on the hockey mom issue that are worth a look: www.slate.com. Look for the editorial cartoon link).