ROSEMONT, Ill. — The Chicago Wolves pulled within 3 points of first place in the Midwest Division with a 5-2 victory over division-leading Charlotte on Sunday afternoon before 6,096 at the Allstate Arena.
Wolves right wing Mark Mancari produced the game’s first two goals to increase his team-high total to 14. Forward Tim Miller added his ninth and 10th goals while goaltender Eddie Lack posted 32 saves as the Wolves (19-12-1-3) earned their 10th win in the last 13 games.
“It was a very good weekend for our team,” said Wolves head coach Craig MacTavish. “We are starting to dig ourselves out of the hole we got into at the beginning of the season.”
Mancari opened the scoring 3:12 into the game. Forward Nathan Longpre led an odd-man rush and tried to thread the puck to Steve Reinprecht driving toward the net. Charlotte goaltender Mike Murphy came out to break up Reinprecht’s one-handed tap just outside the crease, but that left him in no position to stop Mancari’s follow-up.
Mancari scored again at the 16:49 mark of the first as he found some operating room by the net and tipped home Longpre’s wrister from the right circle. Longpre and Reinprecht picked up their second assists of the period.
The Wolves pushed their advantage to 3-0 at 1:17 of the second period. Byron Bitz’s wrister from the top of the right circle deflected off Murphy’s pads directly to Miller and Victor Oreskovich. Miller tapped home the puck as Oreskovich and Bitz earned assists.
Charlotte (21-13-2-1) cut its deficit to 3-1 in the final minute of the second period on center Zac Dalpe’s breakaway with the Wolves on the power play. The Checkers pulled within 3-2 at 4:29 of the third when Nicolas Blanchard’s wrister in the high slot rang off the post past Lack (9-8-3).
The Wolves earned a crucial insurance goal at 12:01 of the third as Mancari, fresh from a stint in the penalty box, zipped past two Checkers to set up an odd-man rush. Rather than fire away in search of his second hat trick this season, Mancari fed Miller for a backhander that beat Murphy.
Darren Haydar added an empty-net goal at 18:08 of the third. Murphy (13-9-0) posted 22 saves.
The Wolves return to action at 11 a.m. Wednesday against Rockford at Allstate Arena. The Illinois Lottery Cup game serves as the first of two School-Day home games for the Wolves this season.
Charlotte 0 1 1 — 2
Chicago 2 1 2 — 5
First Period—1, Chicago, Mancari 13 (Reinprecht, Longpre), 3:12; 2, Chicago, Mancari 14 (Longpre, Reinprecht), 16:49. Penalties—Bellemore, Charlotte (elbowing), 17:26.
Second Period—3, Chicago, Miller 9 (Oreskovich, Bitz), 1:17; 4, Charlotte, Dalpe 7 (unassisted), 19:03. Penalties—Mancari, Chicago (roughing), 6:55; Terry, Charlotte (roughing), 17:54.
Third Period—5, Charlotte, Blanchard 5 (Sanguinetti, Dolan), 4:29; 6, Chicago, Miller 10 (Mancari, Baumgartner), 12:01; 7, Chicago, Haydar 11 (Parent), 18:08 en.
Penalties—Mancari, Chicago (tripping), 9:36; Rissanen, Charlotte (cross-checking), 13:28; Soryal, Charlotte (slashing; 10-minute misconduct) 19:04; Samson, Charlotte (10-minute misconduct), 19:04.
Shots on goal—Charlotte: 6-13-15—34. Chicago: 11-8-8—27. Power plays—Charlotte 0-2. Chicago 0-4. Goalies—Charlotte, Murphy (22-26). Chicago, Lack (32-34). A—6,096. Referee—Nick Krebsbach. Linesmen—Roger Behling and Mathieu Chenier.