GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Chicago Wolves were in no mood to return the gifts they received on Saturday, capitalizing on several Grand Rapids Griffins turnovers and miscues to skate to a 7-4 win at Van Andel Arena.
Twelve different Wolves recorded points, led by Joey Crabb’s three-point night (1-2—3), as Chicago earned a regulation win in Grand Rapids for just the second time in the team’s last 11 visits.
The Griffins (18-13-0-1), whose five worst games this season in terms of goals allowed have all come against the bottom three teams in the Western Conference, will try to bounce back on Sunday when they host the Peoria Rivermen in a 4 p.m. matinee.
The goals came fast and furious early in the opening period, as the Griffins scored twice and were answered by the Wolves twice within a span of just 2:26. Jan Mursak’s slap shot from the top of the right circle snuck through Peter Mannino’s five hole at 4:15, before Riley Holzapfel’s one-timer from the right circle whizzed past the glove of Thomas McCollum 21 seconds later.
Grand Rapids went ahead 2-1 at 5:42 when Mattias Ritola sped down the slot to deflect home Cory Emmerton’s feed from the right boards, but Chicago took advantage of a power play to knot the score at 6:41, with Johnny Pohl camping out in the slot to redirect Tim Stapleton’s pass.
Crabb gave the Wolves their first lead at 8:32 when he stole the puck from a Griffins defender in the left circle and quickly blistered a shot past McCollum, making it five combined goals in 4:17. Then, with 3:36 left in the period, another turnover resulted in the fourth Chicago goal on just 10 shots, as Brett Sterling scored top shelf on an uncontested shot from just to the right of McCollum.
Daniel Larsson entered the game in relief to begin the second period, and Grand Rapids pulled within one on Mike Walsh’s shot from the point at 3:44. But Paul Postma’s blast from the high slot beat a heavily screened Larsson at 8:11, and Stapleton scored on a wraparound at 14:53 to make it 6-3 in favor of the visitors.
Chicago (15-14-0-2) had a great chance to go up by four when Sterling was pulled down during a breakaway and awarded a penalty shot with 35 seconds remaining in the period, but Larsson denied his try to keep the deficit at three through 40 minutes.
Matt Anderson, however, made good on an opportunity to put the Wolves up 7-3, tipping a shot past Larsson 5:30 into the third period. Patrick Rissmiller scored a power play goal on a rebound from the slot with 1:25 remaining for the final margin.
Larsson was saddled with the loss after stopping 16 of 19 in relief of McCollum, who turned aside seven of the 11 shots he faced. Mannino recovered from a shaky start to earn the win with 31 saves.
After the game, Ritola received his second callup to the Detroit Red Wings in a span of six days.
Three Stars: 1. CHI Crabb (goal, two assists); 2. CHI Stapleton (goal, assist); 3. CHI Oystrick (two assists)