Anthony Bitetto’s goal with 29 seconds left in overtime lifted the Milwaukee Admirals to a 3-2 victory over the Chicago Wolves in a battle of Midwest Division powers Friday night at Allstate Arena.
The game-winning goal came during the Wolves’ first encounter with the American Hockey League’s new overtime wrinkle, which calls for 3-on-3 action after the first stoppage with four minutes or less to play.
Forwards Ty Rattie and Jeremy Welsh scored for the Wolves in the Amtrak Rivalry contest while goaltender Matt Climie (3-0-1) rejected 18 of 21 shots.
“We had just as many chances in overtime as them. It made it exciting for the fans,” said Wolves head coach John Anderson. “A tight game as usual with Milwaukee. It’s going to be a great rivalry.”
Milwaukee (5-0-0-0) opened the scoring with a power-play goal at 5:52 of the first period. The Wolves staved off an extended Admirals possession in the zone until Miika Salomaki’s cross-ice pass found right wing Pontus Aberg open for a quick blast from the left faceoff dot with 11 seconds remaining on the man-advantage.
The Wolves (3-0-2-0) evened the score at 2:38 of the second period on Rattie’s third goal of the season. Chicago forced a Milwaukee turnover in the neutral zone and Terry Broadhurst fed the puck ahead to Rattie for a breakaway against Milwaukee goaltender Marek Mazanec. Rattie faked a forehand wrister before tapping a backhander between Mazanec’s pads as Broadhurst and Brent Regner earned assists.
The Admirals regained the lead at 3:43 of the third as the Wolves couldn’t clear the puck out of their defensive zone. Brendan Leipsic controlled it below the goal line and dished it to Austin Watson just outside the crease. Watson zipped it past Wolves goaltender Matt Climie for his fourth goal of the year.
Chicago needed just more than three minutes to pull into a 2-2 knot. The Wolves gained control in their end and Sebastian Wannstrom steered a pass to Welsh at the red line. Welsh raced around a Milwaukee defenseman along the right boards and wristed home a shot from the right circle.
After the Wolves’ Shane Harper had a go-ahead goal waved off with less than five minutes to go in regulation — the officials declared goaltender interference — Admirals defenseman Bitetto delivered the game-winner to close out continual back-and-forth action during 3-on-3 overtime play.
Marek Mazanec (5-0-0) stopped 26 of 28 shots to earn the victory.
The Wolves travel to Rockford at 7 p.m. Saturday for an Illinois Lottery Cup clash. The team returns to Allstate Arena on Saturday, Nov. 1, to face Milwaukee for a game celebrated as a Salute to Military Families, presented by Kia.