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PEORIA, Ill.– Chicago Wolves left wing Mike Duco notched his first career hat trick and right wing Bryon Bitz scored in his first game since March, 2010 to help the team to a 5-2 victory over the Peoria Rivermen Friday night at Carver Arena.
Forward Nathan Longpre also scored for Chicago, while right wing Mark Mancari dished out two assists.
Chicago (17-12-1-3) opened scoring with 1:38 remaining in the first period when Mancari held the puck behind the net and fed Longpre alone in the slot and he snapped a shot past Rivermen goaltender Ben Bishop.
The Wolves doubled their lead with Duco’s first goal of the night at 11:50 of the second period. He skated in on a three-on-two and wristed a shot over the glove of Bishop.
Peoria (17-16-2-1) cracked the scoreboard just 15 seconds later when left wing Stefan Della Rovere scooped up a loose puck in the slot and fired a shot that deflected of a Wolves defender and past goaltender Eddie Lack.
Bitz’s marker 1:33 later regained the two-goal lead for the Wolves. Forward Tim Miller held the puck below the goal line and found Bitz alone in the near circle, who flicked a shot under the bar and past Bishop.
Chicago inched ahead 4-1 with 50 seconds remaining in the middle frame. Duco and right wing Victor Oreskovich skated in on a two-on-one and Duco held the puck and fired a shot between the legs of Bishop, which the netminder got a piece of but the puck trickled over the line.
Bishop (15-10-0) posted 27 saves.
The Rivermen cut Chicago’s lead to 4-2 when right wing Tyler Shattock’s shot from the near boards was stopped by Lack but the rebound jumped to center Brett Sonne in the slot and he deposited the puck past Lack.
Lack (8-8-3) thwarted 30 of 32 shots.
Duco’s empty net tally at 18:49 of the final frame completed his hat trick and sealed the win for Chicago.
The Wolves open a six-game homestand with a contest against the Lake Erie Monsters at 7 p.m. Saturday night at the Allstate Arena.
– Chicago Wolves