ROCKFORD, Ill. — Like so many other Chicago-area commuters, the Wolves needed three times longer than normal to reach their destination Friday night and enjoyed little sense of satisfaction upon arrival.
After taking more than three hours to inch from Rosemont to Rockford during the snowstorm — requiring the opening faceoff to be delayed for an hour — the Wolves gave up the first goal 80 seconds into the game to set the tone for a 3-2 loss to the Rockford IceHogs in an Illinois Lottery Cup contest.
Rockford’s Rostislav Olesz registered the game-winning goal at 10:12 of the second period. His score came shortly after Jordan Schroeder (G, A) and Darren Haydar scored to pull the Wolves even.
Deprived of their normal pregame routine because the team bus didn’t arrive in Rockford until 7 p.m., the Wolves (21-15-1-3) got off to a slow start. Rockford center Rob Flick muscled his way through a check and flipped a backhander past goaltender Matt Climie just 1:20 into the contest.
Rockford center Brandon Pirri’s persistence pushed the margin to 2-0 at 12:41 of the first. Climie rejected Pirri’s initial shot with his left leg, but Pirri retrieved the rebound quickly and delivered a backhander through Climie (12-6-0).
Schroeder pulled the Wolves within 2-1 at 6:33 of the second. Tim Miller fed the puck from the goal line to Schroeder just outside the crease. Schroeder’s redirect flew straight up to waist-level, so he took a swing at the puck and banged it off the post. The ricochet bounced off Rockford goaltender Carter Hutton’s back and trickled into the net for his 11th goal of the year.
Schroeder needed less than two minutes to create another score for the Wolves. His clever stick-handling created room for a pass in the slot to Haydar, who tapped the puck off the inside of the post to make it 2-2 at 8:28. Haydar’s 12th goal of the year also served as the 99th in a Wolves sweater.
Rockford wasted little time regaining the lead. Olesz’ rebound goal after being stopped twice by Climie (22 saves) put the IceHogs ahead 3-2 at 10:12 of the second period.
Hutton (7-5-1) stopped 20 shots to pick up the win. The Wolves and IceHogs meet again at 7 p.m. Saturday at Allstate Arena in an Illinois Lottery Cup contest.