ROSEMONT, Ill. ---Despite the presence of 15,920 fans crammed into Allstate Arena, the Chicago Wolves surrendered two third-period goals and dropped a 3-2 decision Saturday night to the Rockford IceHogs.
Rockford center Byron Froese’s unassisted goal at the 10:01 mark of the third period made the difference as the Wolves dropped their fourth game in a row.
The Wolves (21-16-1-3) uncorked a season-high 39 shots, but only had goals from defenseman Kevin Connauton and forward Tim Miller to show for them. Rostislav Olesz and Brian Connelly also scored for the IceHogs (17-21-1-3).
“Sometimes in this game you don’t get what you deserve,” said Wolves head coach Craig MacTavish. “I thought we played one of our most complete games of the season tonight, but we didn’t walk away with two points.”
Olesz, who earned the game-winning goal in Friday night’s game at Rockford, opened the scoring on a breakaway 2:01 into the game. Olesz faked a shot at close range, forcing Wolves goaltender Eddie Lack out of the net, before skated behind the goal for an unchallenged wraparound.
The Wolves drew even at the 14:11 mark of the first. After Mike Duco won a faceoff in the offensive zone, Connauton gained control of the puck and appeared content to walk the blue line when he snapped off a wrist shot that beat Rockford goalie Carter Hutton high. Duco and Michael Davies earned assists on the play. Connauton’s 10 goals this season lead all American Hockey League defensemen.
Miller handed the Wolves a 2-1 edge at 13:53 of the second. Jordan Schroeder didn’t get much on his shot from the slot, but Hutton strayed too far from the crease in his bid to clear the puck. Miller retrieved it just above the goal line and fired from a sharp angle past Hutton for his 11th goal of the season. Schroeder and Byron Bitz picked up assists.
Rockford pulled even early in the third period as Connelly’s slapshot from just inside the blue line banked off a Wolves defenseman outside the crease and left Lack no chance to make the save.
The IceHogs delivered the game-winner at 10:01 of the third when Froese picked up a turnover at the blue line. He maneuvered away from two Wolves defensemen and threaded a shot past Lack’s attempted kick save just inside of the net.
Hutton (8-5-1) rejected 37 shots to earn his second win in as many nights over the Wolves. Lack (9-11-3) earned 17 saves.
The Wolves return to the ice on Tuesday as they face the Abbotsford Heat in British Columbia.
Rockford 1 0 2 -- 3
Chicago 1 1 0 -- 2
First Period---1, Rockford, Olesz 9 (Morin), 2:01; 2, Chicago, Connauton 10 (Davies, Duco), 14:11. Penalties---DiDomenico, Rockford (interference), 4:42; Stanton, Rockford (closing hand on puck), 11;21.
Second Period---3, Chicago, Miller 11 (Schroeder, Bitz), 13:53. Penalties---Haydar, Chicago (hooking), 6:42.
Third Period---4, Rockford, Connelly 5 (Lalonde, Pirri), 1:55; 5, Rockford, Froese 4 (unassisted), 10:01. Penalties---Pirri, Rockford (holding), 4:18; Davies, Chicago (high-sticking), 7:20; Bollig, Rockford (hooking), 15:53.
Shots on goal---Rockford: 4-9-7---20 Chicago: 14-14-11---39. Power plays---Rockford 0-2; Chicago 0-4. Goalies—Rockford, Hutton (37-39); Chicago, Lack (17-20) A---15,920. Referee---Brian Montsion. Linesmen---Aaron Mills and Dan Cohen.