ROSEMONT, Ill. — Goaltender Joe Cannata stopped 36 shots and forward Michael Davies buried a pair of first-period goals to spark the Chicago Wolves to a 3-2 Illinois Lottery Cup victory over Rockford on Sunday afternoon at Allstate Arena.
Defenseman Kevin Connauton scored the game-winner at 16:55 of the second period as the Wolves (29-19-4-4) defeated the IceHogs for the sixth time in nine meetings this season.
“Those were two tired teams out there tonight,” said Wolves head coach Scott Arniel. “But at the end of the day we found a way to get out with a win.”
Rockford (30-27-1-1) broke on top with Jeremy Morin’s shorthanded goal at 9:06 of the first period. Morin claimed the puck near the blue line, used his body to shield the puck from a Chicago player while driving to the net and he slipped the puck between Cannata’s legs.
The Wolves evened the score at 12:57 of the first when Davies accepted a long pass from Devin DiDiomete behind the Rockford defense at the blue line. He raced in ahead of two hurrying IceHogs and flipped a backhander past Rockford goaltender Carter Hutton.
Davies added another goal 46 seconds later to give the Wolves a 2-1 advantage. Right wing Darren Archibald held the puck below the goal line and fed Davies zooming in from the far circle. Davies rifled the puck over Hutton’s shoulder for his 12th of the season. Mark Matheson also earned an assist on the play.
The IceHogs pulled into a 2-2 tie on defenseman Ryan Stanton’s slap shot from the left point at 2:59 of the second. Stanton zipped the puck over Cannata’s glove.
Chicago regained the lead at 16:55 of the second as Connauton accepted a sharp cross-ice pass from center Steve Pinizzotto and rifled a shot off the inside of the right post for his fourth goal of the season. Forward Eric Kattelus also picked up an assist on what turned out to be the game-winner.
Cannata (6-3-0), who made a handful of saves in the final 1:52 with Rockford on the power play, picked up the win in his first start since Feb. 5. Hutton (22-19-1) posted 18 saves in the loss.
The Wolves hit the road for a 6 p.m. game Wednesday against Midwest Division leader Grand Rapids. After a trip on Friday to Rockford, the Wolves host the IceHogs in an Illinois Lottery Cup game at 3 p.m. Sunday.
– Chicago Wolves