HOUSTON — In the heat of the playoff race, the Chicago Wolves were frozen out by the Houston Aeros with a 5-2 loss Friday night at Toyota Center.
Darren Archibald and Bill Sweatt tallied scores for Chicago (33-25-5-4), which is tied with Midwest Division rivals Milwaukee and Rockford in the chase for the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference playoffs.
Goaltender Matt Climie stopped 9 of 13 shots for the Wolves before being replaced by Joe Cannata as Houston (35-24-5-5) scored four times in the second period.
The Aeros jumped out to the early lead when center Zack Phillips batted a puck out of the air and into Climie’s net on an Aeros power play at 5:35 of the first period.
In rapid succession, the Wolves fired back with a score of their own off Archibald’s stick. He rifled a shot past Aeros goaltender Cody Reichard’s short side at 6:07 to tie the game.
Both sides enjoyed plenty of go-ahead opportunities, but it wasn’t until the second frame that scoring started again — in a big way.
The Aeros notched three straight scores from Steven Kampfer, Jason Zucker, and Dan DaSilva in the span of eight minutes. Following DaSilva’s wraparound goal, produced on a net left empty by Climie as he tried unsuccessfully to poke away the puck, Wolves coaches replaced Climie with Cannata at the 13:09 mark of the period.
The change sparked a brief charge from the Wolves as left wing Sweatt pounced on a huge rebound 20 seconds later and fired it through Reichard at 13:29 to make it 4-2 Houston.
The momentum wouldn’t stay in the Wolves favor, though. As the clock wound down on the second frame, Zucker came calling again on the power play. He went on a breakaway and scored through the five-hole to put the Aeros up 5-2 heading into the third.
The Wolves continue their season-high six-game road trip with a 7 p.m. Saturday at Oklahoma City. The team returns to Allstate Arena on Saturday, April 13, to welcome the Charlotte Checkers.
— Chicago Wolves