ROSEMONT, Ill.–The Chicago Wolves skated to a 4-0 lead and hung on for a 5-3 Illinois Lottery Cup victory over the Rockford IceHogs in front of 11,029 fans Thursday night at the Allstate Arena.
Forwards Tim Miller, Antoine Roussel, and Stefan Schneider and defensemen Kevin Connauton and Nolan Baumgartner lit the lamp for Chicago, which won its fifth straight home contest.
“We got off to a great start and I thought we would get a full 60-minute effort,” said Wolves head coach Craig MacTavish. “Give credit to Rockford. They swung the momentum and was able to come back, but we made the win a lot more difficult to achieve.”
Chicago (16-11-1-3) opened scoring 1:06 into the contest when right wing Darren Haydar carried the puck up the ice on a three-on-two break and slid a pass to the far post for Miller, who deflected the puck past Rockford goaltender Carter Hutton.
The Wolves doubled their lead on the power play at 14:29 of the first period. Defenseman Chris Tanev fed his defense partner Kevin Connauton at the far point and Connauton ripped a one-timer over the stick of Hutton.
Baumgartner’s first goal of the season enabled the Wolves to take a 3-0 lead into the first intermission. Working on the power play, he controlled the puck at the near point and cranked a one-timer that deflected off the stick of an IceHogs defender and sailed over Hutton’s glove at 17:36.
Hutton stopped seven shots in 19:49 of action before being replaced by Alec Richards at the start of the second period.
The Wolves inched ahead 4-0 at 15:42 of the second period. Forward Stefan Schneider skated the puck along the near boards and sent a shot on net that was kicked out by Richards, but the rebound bounced to Roussel in the slot. He tapped home the puck into the empty net.
Richards (5-8-1) kicked out 20 of 21 shots in 39:00 of relief duty.
Rockford (11-17-1-2) got on the scoreboard with 1:25 remaining in the middle frame. Defenseman Joe Lavin’s shot from the point was stopped by Climie, but the rebound went right to center Andrew Shaw in the slot and he snapped a wrister over Climie’s glove.
Shaw cut the Wolves lead to 4-2 with his second marker of the night when he picked up a loose puck behind Chicago’s net and snuck the puck between the post and Climie’s pads at 2:50 of the third period.
IceHogs defenseman Shawn Lalonde’s goal at 7:14 of the third period cut the Wolves’ lead to 4-3, but Climie shut the door the rest of the way and Schneider’s empty-net tally with 34 seconds remaining sealed the win for the Wolves.
Climie (9-4-0) posted 35 saves in his first action since Dec. 10.
The Wolves close out 2011 with a New Year’s Eve tilt against the Charlotte Checkers at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Allstate Arena.
(Recap from the Chicago Wolves)