ROSEMONT, Ill. – The Chicago Wolves scored two goals in the final minute of regulation, but it was not enough to catch the Rockford IceHogs during a 4-3 loss Sunday afternoon before a crowd of 12,534 at Allstate Arena.
Wolves forward Shane Harper delivered his 27th and 28th goals of the year – second-most in the American Hockey League – but it was not enough to prevent Rockford from clinching the Illinois Lottery Cup with its seventh win in the rivals’ 12-game series.
“I like the fact that we didn’t quit,” said Wolves head coach John Anderson. “That’s something good that we can take away, but that’s another two points we didn’t get.”
Rockford (34-19-5-2) scored three goals in the second period, starting with Brandon Mashinter’s goal at 11:23, to claim a 3-0 lead. Defenseman Ville Pokka wound up and fired a rising slap shot from the left point that Mashinter redirected past Wolves goaltender Jordan Binnington.
Right wing Spencer Abbott pushed the margin to 2-0 when he intercepted a clearing pass near the blue line, deked his way past two Wolves and flipped a backhand top-shelf at 17:27 of the second. Rockford added a power-play goal from Ryan Hartman at 18:46 of the second period before the Wolves (29-24-6-1) mounted their rally.
Harper broke Antti Raanta’s shutout bid at 7:46 of the third when he set up in the high slot and deflected defenseman Joel Edmundson’s blast from the left point. Adam Cracknell also earned an assist on the play.
Anderson pulled Binnington with nearly three minutes left to give the Wolves an extra attacker, but Rockford appeared to clinch matters with 1:39 to play as Mark McNeill’s empty-net goal made it 4-1.
When the Wolves received a power play, Anderson removed Binnington again to set up a 6-on-4 situation and Cracknell cashed in the power play with 0:46 left on a one-timer from just outside the crease set up by Ty Rattie and Harper.
Harper then tipped home another Edmundson rocket with 31 seconds to play to slash the margin to 4-3. The Wolves had chances to tie, but Raanta blocked them. Raanta (3-0-1) finished with 26 saves in the win while Binnington (19-13-4) stopped 26 of 29 shots.
— Courtesy Chicago Wolves