Chicago Wolves thrash the Rockford IceHogs
Cotton and Lajoie score in first 44 seconds to trigger rout
David Cotton and Max Lajoie scored in the opening 44 seconds to set the tone for the Chicago Wolves’ 6-3 victory over the Rockford IceHogs Saturday night at the Wolves Training Facility.
Cotton scored twice while Lajoie, Tanner Jeannot and Tommy Novak notched three points apiece as the Wolves (11-2-0-1) won their third game in a row and extended their Central Division. Lajoie, Jeannot, Dominik Bokk and Ryan Suzuki joined Cotton in the goals column.
“We thought we’d probably have to feel it out a little bit, just because we hadn’t played in a while,” said Wolves head coach Ryan Warsofsky. “Credit to the guys. We only had two team practices before this game and a week off (before that), so for us to start like that was definitely a positive.”
Cotton swatted home a rebound of a Cavan Fitzgerald blast to give the Wolves the lead just 27 seconds into their first game since March 14 due to COVID-19 protocols.
The Wolves maintained their hunger as center Tommy Novak set up defenseman Lajoie for a quick wrister from the left face-off dot to make it 2-0 at the 0:44 mark.
Lajoie and Cotton teamed up for a power-play goal at 15:48 of the first. Lajoie launched a blast from the high slot that was blocked, but the rebound ricocheted to Cotton on the doorstep and he flipped it home for the 3-0 lead.
Bokk pushed the advantage to 4-0 just 51 seconds into the second period as Novak spied him open in the slot and Bokk steered home the power-play goal — his fourth in as many games.
Rockford (6-10-1-0) got on the board at 2:04 of the second when veteran defenseman Cody Franson launched a blast through traffic from the right point. Evan Barratt’s breakaway pulled the IceHogs within 4-2 at 15:15 of the second.
The Wolves restored their three-goal lead when Anthony Richard set up behind the net, saw Suzuki open at the bottom of the circle and fed him for a quick blast past Rockford goaltender Ivan Nalimov to make it 5-2 with 2:13 left in the second.
Novak earned his third assist of the night 51 seconds into the third as he worked a give-and-go with Jeannot to give the Wolves a 6-2 advantage.
Antoine Bibeau (2-1-1) posted 23 saves in the win while the 27-year-old Nalimov (0-0-1) stopped 31 shots in his North American debut.
The Wolves and IceHogs meet three more times in the next 11 days — starting with a 4 p.m. battle Sunday in Rockford. The teams return to Hoffman Estates at 2 p.m. Thursday.
WOLVES 6, ICEHOGS 3
Rockford 0 2 1 — 3
Chicago 3 2 1 — 6
First Period—1, Chicago, Cotton 4 (Fitzgerald, Bokk), 0:27; 2, Chicago, Lajoie 3 (Novak, Jeannot), 0:44; 3, Chicago, Cotton 5 (Lajoie, Richard), 15:48 pp;
Penalties—Phillips, Rockford (cross-checking), 11:16; Kalynuk, Rockford (high-sticking), 15:08; Carlsson, Rockford (tripping), 19:47.
Second Period—4, Chicago, Bokk 4 (Novak, Jeannot), 0:51 pp; 5, Rockford, Franson 4 (Wilkie, Barratt), 2:04; 6, Rockford, Barratt (Mitchell), 15:15; 7, Chicago, Suzuki 4 (Richard), 17:47.
Penalties—Soderlund, Rockford (hooking), 4:37; Jeannot, Chicago (slashing), 18:37.
Third Period—8, Chicago, Jeannot 6 (Novak, Lajoie), 0:51; 9, Rockford, Johnson 3 (Kalynuk, Wilkie), 8:42.
Penalties—Kalynuk, Rockford (holding), 2:39.
Shots on goal—Rockford 9-6-11—26; Chicago 17-9-11—37. Power plays—Rockford 0-1; Chicago 2-5. Goalies—Rockford, Nalimov (31-37); Chicago, Bibeau (23-26). Referees—Shaun Davis and Peter Tarnaris. Linesmen—Tyler Gregory and Jeff Pacocha.