Wolves Take Wild One, Get Back in Win Column

Eddie Lack debuted his spiffy new gear tonight.

The Wolves came into this tilt against San Antonio with a two-game losing streak, which was a cause for no concern because of the manner in which they had lost both games. They had completely fallen apart in the final period, collectively imploding. Coming into this one the Rampage weren’t exactly lighting the world on fire, either, holding a 2-2-1 record (good for last place in a stacked South division). In hindsight, we should have expected them to struggle without the calming presence of Tim Duncan.

This was a wild game, which featured a flurry of goals from both teams. The Wolves blew a three goal lead in the third period, but a late goal from Jordan Schroeder – which made it 6-5 – allowed them to hang onto a much needed 2 points, getting back in the win column.

Read Past the Jump for Notes on the Game.

Given the lockout – and in turn, the presence of higher-end prospects – the AHL has been much more prevalent this fall. It can’t replace the void left by the NHL, but it’s doing a decent impersonation. Once the calendar came out, I circled a few teams to keep my eye on. Obviously the Oklahoma City Barons (who for all intensive purposes are the Oilers), and Rochester Americans (Cody Hodgson and Co.) were at the top of the list, but so were the San Antonio Rampage.

Even though I don’t believe Roberto Luongo will be granted his wish of going to Florida, they’re still one of the more realistic options around. Obviously if a trade were to happen, the Canucks would not be receiving any of the upper echelon prospects that the Panthers boast in their system.

But that’s okay, because they’re contain one of the deepest prospect pools in the entire league. The Rampage feature strong prospects such as Drew Shore, Quinton Howden (originally a Canucks pick, actually), Alex Petrovic, and Jacob Markstrom. And that makes them a team worth watching.

-As always, there were a handful of lineup changes for the Wolves from last night’s game. Yann Sauve, Chris Tanev, Tim Miller, Brett Sterling and Alex Mallet got the night off, while Anton Rodin, Alex Friesen, Brad Hunt, Peter Andersson, and Guillaume ‘The Anchor’ Desbens were put back in the fold.

-As the Wolves started the game with Pinizzotto-Longpre-Kassian, I sent out a tweet questioning the logic behind splitting up Kassian and Ebbett. They seemed to be developing a beautiful chemistry in recent games. I was reminded why I’m not the coach rather quickly, though, when Kassian opened the scoring less than a minute in. He came in off of the left wing, and fired the puck by Markstrom up high. 

Later on, Kassian had a beautiful sequence where he took the puck off the half board, and used a spin move to get position on the defender as he took the puck to the net. Every time I watch him play, I’m reminded more and more of Todd Bertuzzi. And it’s scaring me.

-Derek Joslin truly is to Scott Arniel what Aaron Rome used to be to Alain Vigneault. I can’t believe how much the Wolves are riding this guy. He’s fine, but he provides no real future value, and he really brings nothing to the table. I guess you could say I’m not a fan.

-Michael Davies made it 2-0 for the Wolves (in only his 2nd game since being called up from the ECHL), before the Rampage cut it back down to 1. Neither of the goals were all that noteworthy, so I won’t elaborate.

-Anton Rodin, my goodness. He absolutely lit up one of the opposing players, with a clean shoulder check. So far this season we have been pumping the fact that Rodin has looked much stronger so far this season, and it’s showing. There is no way he would have been able to do that last season.

-After a fast-paced, scoring chance-filled first period – which the Wolves dominated, winning the scoring chance battle 11-4 – the second period seemed like it was headed towards being an absolute snoozer. The Wolves repeatedly shot themselves in the foot, taking six consecutive penalties, and weren’t able to muster any sort of offense for a large chunk of the period.

Fortunately, the combination of an inept Rampage power play (for the time being), and a few key saves by Eddie Lack kept the game at a 2-2 score. Which proved to be huge, because the floodgates opened in the final four minutes. After Kevin Connauton got his first of the season, Billy Sweatt scored to make it 4-2. With time expiring in the second, Andrew Gordon scored a goal that was nearly identical to the one scored by Sweatt, proving that good things really do come in threes.

-The Wolves continued their poor third period play again tonight. Last night I mentioned that 13 of the 14 goals they had surrendered on the season had come in the final frame. It took the Rampage only 7 minutes to score three power play goals, tying the game back up.

Crisis was averted when Michael Davies set up Jordan Schroeder for the game winning goal with just under 3 minutes left in the game. Schroeder, who was scoreless in the first five games of the season, now has goals in back-to-back games. The Wolves avoided taking any penalties in the final minutes, and took the game by a score of 6-5.

The entire game was awfully weird, but hey, sometimes hockey is weird.  

Fun with Numbers:

1: Kevin Connauton and Andrew Gordon both scored their first goals of the season tonight. Connauton lit the lamp 13 times last season, while Gordon scored 65 goals from ’09-’11 for Hershey.

4: The number of power play goals the Wolves surrendered. They were a man short 10 times on the night, including a stretch in the second period where they committed six straight infractions. They won’t win too many games following that formula.

5: Is the number of times Jacob Markstrom and Eddie Lack had squared off prior to tonight, with Markstrom holding a 5-0 record against his former back-up at Brynas IF. I’m sure The Stork enjoyed this one.

30: The Wolves entered this game with the 30th ranked power play, going just 1-28, good for 3.6%. And nothing changed, as they failed to tally a power play goal once again.