Chicago Wolves v Abbotsford, March 30, 2012 - Gamer and (some) data

Patrick Johnston
March 31 2012 06:49PM


Steve Reinprecht and the Wolves were in tough against Akim Aliu and the Heat this week
(Photo: Matt Hyndman)

Their man advantage was finally an advantage, but it wasn't quite enough to power the Chicago Wolves home from Abbotsford on Friday night.

Scoring goals on the powerplay has been a struggle all season for the Wolves, but their two-game Fraser Valley series was truly exceptional. Chicago's league-worst powerplay exploded for three goals against the Abbotsford Heat on Friday, nearly pushing them to a win.


After the game, Yann Sauve talked about how he uses his size on the ice. Didn't mention wanting to take out Anton Rodin, though.
(Photo: Matt Hyndman)

It was not quite to be, however. After a thrilling 5-4, come-from-behind, shootout win over the same Heat team on Thursday, the Wolves expressed some happiness that their season-long struggle on the powerplay was absent for at least a game.

"We've just got to keep shooting the puck," said Mark Mancari. The big winger had tied the game on a late 2nd period powerplay.

The first period ended in a tie, but few Heat shots were truly threatening. The home team managed a paltry 3 chances, compared to Chicago's 8. Darren Haydar scored Chicago's first goal on a fantastic wrist shot from the right side faceoff dot.


It may not look like it, but Mark Mancari loves talking power play
(Photo: Matt Hyndman)

Abbotsford's Greg Nemisz tied it up three minutes later.

In the second, though, it was a different story. Abbotsford fired in a pair of goals in the first 8-and-a-half minutes, and were dominating on the chance count too, running up 9 chances and yielding none. The ice was so tilted that Wolves coach Craig MacTavish needed a time-out to right the ship.

Krys Kolanos found some open space and wasted no time putting his team into the lead, powering an NHL-quality shot past Matt Climie. Minutes later, after a flurry of chances on a powerplay (six in total!), Clay Wilson scored an even-strength marker that seemed to be a long time coming.


Impressive: concentration. Also impressive: focusing on the game while mowing a hot dog. Not impressive: beer through a straw.
(Photo: Matt Hyndman)

Even with the tactical timeout from MacTavish, the Wolves were able to genearate just 3 chances in the second half of the period, all on the powerplay. One of those was Mancari's goal, the other was Kevin Connauton's equally impressive powerplay goal.

Whereas Mancari's goal was mostly about power, Connauton's goal was about precision passing and precision shooting. The puck was moved around quickly, and Connauton got off a fearsome slapper from the right side that caught the top right corner of the net.

The Wolves re-took control of the game in the third, out-chancing Abbotsford 7-3, but they weren't able to find the back of the net.

The Heat were the better team in overtime, generating a pair of chances before their late winner sealed the game. The Wolves managed one chance in the extra frame.


Byron Bitz is a big fella with the puck.
(Photo: Matt Hyndman)

Despite the loss, Wolves captain Nolan Baumgartner was happy how his team stuck with their system.

"We've been grinding it out for the last 20 games or so. We're playing at a great level out there right now," he said.

As for the powerplay's outburst, Baumgartner was philosophical.

"We're trying everything we can, we were the 30th ranked powerplay, we've probably jumped to 29th now," he said with a smile.

 

March 30th lines
Rodin Bitz Mancari
Miller Reinprecht Haydar
Sweatt Schroeder Davies
Roussel Schneider Clackson
     
Connauton Baumgartner  
Sauve Henry  
Hunt Matheson  

 

  Scoring Chances
  Wolves Heat
1st 19:18 16:01
  18:32 6:08
  17:52 3:23 Nemisz goal
  14:08  
  9:51  
  7:47  
 Haydar PPG 6:56  
 Miller SH 4:25  

 

2nd  
  9:03

15:20

Connauton PPG 3:35 15:14
 Mancari PPG 2:27 14:56
    14:55 G Kolanos
    13:42 PP
    13:22 PP
   

12:32 PP

    12:20 PP
    11:47 PP
    11:46 PP
    11:35 G Wilson
    3:11
 

3rd

 
  12:41 18:51
  12:37 16:58
  10:27 9:24
  8:47 5:08 PP
  8:44  
  1:40  
  0:35  
  OT  
  4:08 4:34
    3:34
    0:11 G Connelly

 

 Even Strength Zone Starts  
  Offensive Neutral Defensive
Schroeder 4 2 0
Reinprecht 3 4 6
Bitz 6 5 3
Schneider 0 4 4
Connauton 3 3 5

Sauve

6 5 4
Hunt 3 3 1

A couple things to note - Kevin Connauton missed the first 5 or 6 minutes of the third after being speared in the groin, late in the second. Yann Sauve picked up a bunch of extra shifts because of this.

You'll see that Jordan Schroeder's line didn't start once in their defensive zone, while Stefan Schneider didn't once start in the offensive zone. Normally the Wolves roll their top three lines pretty evenly, so that was an interesting thing to note. The other thing to consider is that means that Schroeder's line didn't ice the puck once.

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Patrick Johnston is a Vancouver journalist. In addition to regular contributions here at Canucks Army, his work has appeared in The Province, Hockey Now and on the CBC. Check out his blog and other writing at http://johnstonwrites.wordpress.com or follow him on twitter: @risingaction
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