Wolves Continue To Own Ice Hogs, Win 6-3

Vengeance can be had in many forms. Sometimes it’s quite obvious, but other times it can be much more subtle and understated. In this particular instance, vengeance won’t truly come for Canucks fans until the Canucks and Blackhawks meet again. According to the "code" of hockey, Duncan Keith will likely have to atone for his sins; hopefully in the form of fisticuffs, and not a retaliatory cheapshot. After that, all will be good. Until the next chapter of the rivalry is inevitably written, at least.

This seems prevalent, because the Wolves beat the Rockford Ice Hogs by a score of 6-3, improving to 3-0 against them this season. I’m as invested in the Wolves as is possible, and even I won’t try to tell you that you need to take too much away from that.

But as a fan, you quickly learn that you need to take your victories wherever you can get them, and it’s nice to see the Canucks’ prospects having the upper hand against the prospects of the parent team’s most bitter rivals. We have yet to see any sort of bad blood come up between the two teams, though, as the AHL has seemingly filled its quota for rough stuff with the shenanigans unfolding between the Oklahoma City Barons and Houston Aeros. 

Read Past the Jump for Notes on the Game.

-Even Alain Vigneault thinks that Scott Arniel’s juggling is reaching epic proportions. But in this case, his hand is being forced. The Wolves have a plethora of able bodies, and 5 of them have to be sitting at all times. Unfortunately, Anton Rodin was a casualty of the numbers game once again tonight. It’ll be tough for him to score his first goal of the year while he’s wearing a suit in the press box.

Tanev was back in the lineup, though, after a minor injury sidelined him for two games. He showed no ill effects in this game, but was split up from his usual partner Kevin Connauton (with Peter Andersson taking his spot).

-The thing that really stands out about the Wolves as a team is their speed. They are remarkably quick to counter-attack, and break out of their own zone. The most impressive of the bunch in that regard is Billy Sweatt, who has been playing with a jet pack strapped to his back the past few games. He has been flying, and was among the best of the Wolves skaters once again. He’s still not finishing at the rate that you’d hope to see, but it’s not for a lack of effort. A partnership between him and Jannik Hansen would be a sight to behold.

-Schroeder continued his resurgence in this game, winding up with three points on the night. It’s tough to say if he meant to do what he did to set up the first goal of the night, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. He pulled off a no-look, backhand pass from behind the net that would make even Steve Nash jealous. Gordon was the beneficiary, burying it as he was left wide open in the slot.

-After the Ice Hogs tied it up, Brett Sterling single-handedly restored the lead for the Wolves with a spectacular individual effort. He came into the offensive zone by himself against three Ice Hogs, and tried to pass it through the primary defenders legs. After the puck took a weird bounce and got past the blueliner, Sterling skated around him like he was Mike Komisarek, and went five-hole on the Hogs goaltender.

-The Wolves managed to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission, after a thoroughly entertaining opening period. Even though they were outshot 15-10, they won the scoring chance battle 10-7, and were the better, more dangerous team. After watching that period, it’s hard to believe that these two teams played to a 0-0 draw through regulation (and overtime) earlier this season.

-After a strong individual effort by Tim Miller, Schroeder wired an impressive wrister past Carter Hutton, giving the good guys a 3-1 lead. Earlier in the season, Schroeder would have mangled that opportunity by trying to do too much. He kept it simple, knew what he wanted to do, and reaped the rewards.

-I feel obligated to report that Kevin Connauton and Kyle Beach "fought". And by that, I mean that Connauton had him in a headlock for 20 seconds, before they were broken up. 

-Chicago came into this game with just 2 power play goals on the season, which was rather concerning. But they broke out of their special teams funk in this game, scoring twice with the extra man. 

-Schroeder played a key role in a goal for the third time on the night, setting up Andersson, whose shot was initially stopped. Fortunately Billy Sweatt was jogging on the spot, and tapped it in to make it 4-1 for the Wolves. The Hogs wound up cutting it to 4-2 before the 2nd period was over with. After a fun opening frame, the second period’s purpose was to suck the life out of its viewers. There were just 7 scoring chances combined in the stanza, and even that seems rather generous.

-Halfway through the 3rd, the Wolves put the game away with a beautiful tic-tac-toe involving Pinizzotto, Kassian, and Tanev. Saying that the goal was a long time coming for Tanev would be quite the understatement. For more on that, check the ‘Fun with Numbers’ section below.

-The Wolves tacked on a 6th goal in the closing minutes of the game, as Michael Davies set up Andrew Ebbett. The Wolves outchanced the Ice Hogs 12-5 in the final frame, thoroughly dominating the play. They played a heck of a road game in this one, earning their 2 points.

You have been clamouring for highlight packages in recent game recaps, but clamour no more. Thanks to @WolfKeeper on Twitter, you can find an extended clip here for your viewing pleasure.

Fun With Numbers:

13: The Chicago Wolves have earned 13 points in 9 games this season, which has them atop the Midwest Division. They’re currently tied for the 2nd best record in the entire AHL, just a point behind Abbotsford and Lake Erie.

32: The Ice Hogs actually outshot the Wolves by a margin of 32-25 in this one, but it’s not always about the quantity of shots on goal. The quality matters, and the Wolves won the scoring chance battle 26-15. Which makes sense considering they were clearly the better team throughout the game. The individual leaders were Billy Sweatt (6), Kassian (4), and Davies (4).

133: Heading into this one, Chris Tanev had just 1 goal in 133 professional games. Obviously his game is all about helping the offense break out of their own zone, and preventing the other team from getting quality chances off, but it was nice to see him jump in on the rush and get one of his own.