ROSEMONT, Ill.---The Chicago Wolves fell into an early 3-1 hole, but after watching teammate Jared Ross taken off the ice on a stretcher, rallied and fired off five unanswered goals to hand the Grand Rapids Griffins a 6-3 loss and give Head Coach Don Lever his 300th career American Hockey League victory at the Allstate Arena Monday night.
Chicago center Jason Krog became the third player in Wolves history to record 300 points with the team as he paced the club with three assists, while defenseman Paul Postma (G, A) and forwards Darren Haydar (G, A) and Nigel Dawes (G, A) also added multiple points.
“We said ‘we have to win this for Ross,’ and we got ourselves back in it,” said Lever. “If we can play with that much emotion all the time, this could be a season-changing game for us.”
Grand Rapids (15-15-1-4) got on the board first, 5:49 into the first period. Right wing Willie Coetzee attempted to stuff a backhanded shot between Wolves goaltender Peter Mannino’s legs and the puck slipped behind him, where center Joakim Andersson reached around and pushed it over the goal line.
The Griffins made their lead 2-0 at 11:36 of the first period when defenseman Brendan Smith ripped a shot down the slot that evaded traffic in front of the net, clanked into the back post and ricocheted out again.
Grand Rapids took a 3-0 lead with a shorthanded goal from right wing Jamie Tardiff. Tardiff stole the puck at center ice and broke down into the Wolves zone with Andersson, before taking a centering pass and firing a shot past Mannino at 3:49 of the second period.
Mannino (11-7-1) posted 24 saves in the win.
The Wolves answered on the power play 72 seconds later, when Ross flipped a shot past MacDonald from the left face-off circle to make the score 3-1. Just over a minute after the goal, Ross collided with Griffins defenseman Greg Amadio and was taken off the ice in a stretcher.
Chicago (17-15-2-1) rallied to pull within one, 3-2, when center Andre Deveaux sent a pass back to defenseman Mark Matheson at the point and he hammered a shot past MacDonald at 9:07 of the second frame.
Four players were escorted off the ice at 13:33 of the second period following a series of fights, but 13 seconds later, the Wolves tied the game, 3-3, when Dawes came streaking in on the left side of the net, bent his knee and flicked a shot past MacDonald.
Chicago took a 4-3 lead, 15:02 into the second period when Haydar walked in and wristed a high shot past MacDonald from the right face-off circle.
The Wolves made their lead two, 5-3, with a power-play goal 58 seconds into the third period. Postma took a slapshot from high in the slot that flew past MacDonald, stick side.
Defenseman Boris Valabik sprung right wing Akim Aliu out on a breakaway and the forward deked and deposited a shot past MacDonald’s glove side to bring the score to 6-3 at 10:52 of the third period.
MacDonald (8-5-1) turned aside 34 shots for the Griffins.
The Wolves hit the road for a four-game swing through Canada, beginning with a matchup against the Hamilton Bulldogs on Tuesday at 6 p.m.
Grand Rapids 2 1 0 -- 3
Chicago 0 4 2 -- 6
First Period---1, Grand Rapids, Andersson 4 (Coetzee, Owens), 5:49; 2, Grand Rapids, Smith 8 (Andersson, Pare), 11:36. Penalties---Aliu, Chicago (cross-checking), 10:58; Postma, Chicago (tripping), 12:59; Owens, Grand Rapids (roughing), 17:25; Valabik, Chicago (roughing), 17:25.
Second Period---3, Grand Rapids, Tardiff 12 (Andersson), 3:49 sh; 4, Chicago, Ross 11 (Dawes, Krog), 5:01 pp; 5, Chicago, Matheson 2 (Deveaux, Krog), 9:07; 6, Chicago, Dawes 14 (Esposito, Machacek), 13:46; 7, Chicago, Haydar 13 (Zubarev, Postma), 15:02. Penalties---Pare, Grand Rapids (slashing), 3:12; Tatar, Grand Rapids (holding), 4:08; Amadio, Grand Rapids (fighting), 6:14; Kulda, Chicago (fighting), 6:14; Ehrhardt, Grand Rapids (interference), 10:02; Amadio, Grand Rapids (fighting, misconduct), 13:33; Straub, Grand Rapids (fighing, game misconuct), 13:33; Valabik, Chicago (fighting, misconduct), 13:33; Deveaux, Chicago (fighting, game misconduct), 13:33; Davies, Chicago (tripping), 17:28; Ehrhardt, Grand Rapids (roughing), 19:34; Owens, Grand Rapids (double-minor roughing), 20:00; Aliu, Chicago (roughing), 20:00.
Third Period---8, Chicago, Postma 4 (Haydar, Krog), 0:58 pp; 9, Chicago, Aliu 4 (Valabik), 10:52. Penalties---Davies, Chicago (tripping), 13:47; Pare, Grand Rapids (hooking), 18:06.
Shots on goal---Grand Rapids: 14-6-7--27. Chicago: 15-15-10--40. Power plays---Grand Rapids: 1-4. Chicago: 2-6. Goalies---Grand Rapids, MacDonald (34-40). Chicago, Mannino (24-27). A---7,681. Referee---Ian Croft. Linesmen---Mike Hamilton and Peter Cichy.