ROCKFORD, Ill. — The Chicago Wolves moved into a tie atop the Midwest Division and claimed the Illinois Lottery Cup with a decisive 5-3 win over the Rockford IceHogs on Friday night at the MetroCentre.
Left wing Sergey Andronov, right wings Michael Davies and Tyler Shattock, forward Nathan Longpre, and center Alexandre Bolduc all tallied for the Wolves (44-21-5-5), who have 98 points heading into their regular-season finale Saturday night at Allstate Arena. Grand Rapids holds the tiebreaker, so the Wolves must do better against Milwaukee than the Griffins do against Lake Erie.
Goaltender Matt Climie (11-10-2) kicked out 32 of 35 shots for Chicago as he won for the second time in three days. Rockford’s Jason LaBarbera (15-16-3) posted 25 saves as the IceHogs (34-32-5-4) were eliminated from the playoff chase.
The Wolves again got on the board early with a score 1:07 into the game. Defenseman Joe Corvo’s breakout pass found right wing Tyler Shattock on the boards. Shattock carried the puck up ice and dished a pass to Andronov, who made a quick move from his backhand to his forehand for the 1-0 advantage.
Chicago continued to dictate play until late in the period as the IceHogs scored twice in 1:18 to claim the lead. Left wing Pat Mullane grabbed a rebound and sent it to center David Gilbert near the faceoff circle for a shot inside the far post to tie it. Rockford jumped in front at 15:27 as right wing Ryan Hartman collected his first professional goal, roofing the puck from in close.
Davies continued on a hot streak with his third goal in as many games to knot the score five minutes into the second period. Fresh off a line change, Davies used his speed to get behind the defense and threaded a shot inside the near post and behind LaBarbera.
Rockford went ahead once again at 9:42 in the middle frame as center Phillip Danault reached around Climie to one-hand his own rebound over the goal line while battling with Wolves defenseman Jake Chelios in front of the net.
The momentum swings continued as the Wolves again stormed back. Center Keith Aucoin backhanded a pass to Shattock at the top of the zone for a quick shot that eluded LaBarbera at 15:57 to enter the second intermission tied.
Longpre regained the lead for the Wolves midway through the third period, collecting his sixth goal of the season at 10:12. The forward chipped the puck past the defense and used his speed to break in on goal and score five-hole.
Chicago ended the game with a power-play tally at 19:42 as Bolduc iced the win with LaBarbera pulled for the extra attacker.
— Chicago Wolves
The Wolves close out their regular-season slate in an Amtrak Rivalry game against Milwaukee at 7 p.m. Saturday.