The Chicago Wolves fell into a 5-0 hole in the game’s opening 25 minutes but staged a four-goal third period rally that saw them pull within one goal twice, before suffering an eventual 7-5 loss to the Grand Rapids Griffins at the Allstate Arena Wednesday night.
Forwards Nigel Dawes, Riley Holzapfel, Andrew Kozek, Ryan Garbutt and Darren Haydar provided the scoring for Chicago (26-23-2-4), while defensemen Mark Matheson (3A) and Paul Postma (2A) each added multiple assists.
“We played a very bad first period,” said Wolves Head Coach Don Lever. “It’s disappointing. We were able to come back in the third but it’s too little too late when you let in four goals in the first.”
Grand Rapids (23-23-1-5) drew first blood, 11:12 into the game when the rebound from a Sebastien Piche shot bounced straight up the slot to center Jamie Johnson, who knocked it past Wolves goaltender Drew MacIntyre.
The Griffins pulled ahead, 2-0, at 12:10 of the first frame when defenseman Jamie Tardif sent a pass across to Jason Lepine, who walked in to the right face-off circle before flicking a pass to left wing Jordan Owens at the top of the crease for a quick tap past MacIntyre.
Grand Rapids made it 3-0 with a marker from Cory Emmerton at 18:25 of the first frame. Right wing Francis Pare carried the puck into the Wolves zone and slipped a pass back to Emmerton alone in the slot for a quick rip into the open side of the net.
The Wolves fell into a 4-0 hole when Ilari Filppula jammed home the rebound from a scrum in front of the Wolves net with one second remaining in the first period.
MacIntyre made 15 saves during the first period, before being replaced by Peter Mannino to start the second.
The Griffins pulled to 5-0 when Pare sent a pass from behind the goal line out front to Tardif, who moved around a Wolves player and deposited the puck past Mannino at 4:42 of the second period.
A five-on-three power play late in the second period helped the Wolves crack the scoreboard. The puck became trapped under a Grand Rapids player after he blocked a shot and Postma hacked at it until it came loose and squirted out to Dawes, whose quick shot banked off goaltender Jordan Pearce’s pads and into the net at 17:35.
Chicago inched to 5-2 when Matheson’s shot from the point bounced off Holzapfel in front of the net and out of Pearce’s reach at 2:59 of the third period.
Kozek’s long blast from high in the slot brought Chicago within striking distance, 5-3, and sent Pearce to the bench in favor of backup Thomas McCollum at 7:04 of the third period.
Garbutt brought Chicago within one, 5-4, at 14:31 of the third period. Matheson fired a blast from the point and Postma got the rebound to Garbutt, who pushed it past McCollum, but the Griffins answered 49 seconds later when Pare’s shot from the right face-off circle slipped between Mannino and the goal post.
Mannino (12-13-3) made 11 saves in 38:36 minutes of relief duty before taking the loss.
Haydar responded to bring Chicago back within one goal, 6-5, when he took a pass from Fredrik Pettersson, walked in and buried a shot past McCollum with 2:42 remaining in the game.
McCollum (6-10-2) made eight saves on 10 shots in 12:51 between the pipes to collect the win.
Filppula slid the puck into an empty net at 18:50 of the third period to ice the win for the Griffins and round out the scoring, 7-5.
The Wolves travel to Wisconsin to face the Milwaukee Admirals in an Amtrak Rivalry game at the Bradley Center on Friday at 7 p.m.
Grand Rapids 4 1 2 — 7
Chicago 0 1 4 — 5
First Period—1, Grand Rapids, Johnson 6 (Piche, Pare), 11:12; 2, Grand Rapids, Owens 6 (Lepine, Tardif), 12:10; 3, Grand Rapids, Emmerton 7 (Pare, Tatar), 18:25; 4, Grand Rapids, Filppula 17 (Johnson, Minard), 19:59. Penalties—Keefe, Grand Rapids (elbowing), 7:25; Minard, Grand Rapids (cross-checking), 12:39.
Second Period—5, Grand Rapids, Tardif 16 (Pare), 4:42 pp; 6, Chicago, Dawes 24 (Postma, Haydar), 17:35 pp. Penalties—Postma, Chicago (slashing), 4:00; Lepine, Grand Rapids (high-sticking), 15:42; Raedeke, Grand Rapids (hooking), 15:42; Esposito, Chicago (slashing), 19:14.
Third Period—7, Chicago, Holzapfel 6 (Matheson, Machacek), 2:59; 8, Chicago, Kozek 7 (Miller, Matheson), 7:04; 9, Chicago, Garbutt 13 (Matheson, Postma), 14:31; 10, Grand Rapids, Pare 13 (Pyett, Lepine), 15:20; 11, Chicago, Haydar 19 (Pettersson, Krog), 17:18 pp; 12, Grand Rapids, Filppula 18 (unassisted), 18:50 en. Penalties—Tatar, Grand Rapids (interference), 7:17; Raedeke, Grand Rapids (high-sticking), 8:23; Mannino, Chicago (tripping), 10:12; Straub, Grand Rapids (holding), 15:58; Garbutt, Chicago (slashing), 20:00.
Shots on goal—Grand Rapids: 19-8-6–33. Chicago: 9-13-13–35. Power plays—Grand Rapids: 1-3. Chicago: 2-7. Goalies—Grand Rapids, Pearce (22-25), replaced by McCollum (8-10) at 46:53. Chicago, MacIntyre (15-19), replaced by Mannino (11-13) at 20:00. A—3,915. Referee—Jon McIsaac and Keith Kaval. Linesmen—Mike Hamilton and Peter Cichy.