Chicago Wolves 5 at GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 3
Nov. 26, 2021
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Chicago Wolves scored five unanswered goals in the third period on Friday, including three in the final 1:36, to take a stunning 5-3 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins at Van Andel Arena.
The Griffins, who entered the night on a 5-1-2-0 roll, are now winless in their last five games against the Wolves dating to last season, with all games having taken place in Grand Rapids.
The result spoiled a strong early showing by the Griffins, who saw Kyle Criscuolo extend his goal streak to three games as part of a three-point night and Jared McIsaac pot his first two goals as a pro.
McIsaac struck first at the 12:19 mark of the opening period. Off Criscuolo’s faceoff win in the right circle, McIsaac picked up the puck along the right boards and maneuvered to the top of the circles before whipping a wrister past a screened Eetu Makiniemi.
That goal sparked a cascade of stuffed animals from the stands for Grand Rapids’ 21st annual Teddy Bear Toss and gave the Griffins their first lead against Chicago not only this season but over a span of 252:50, dating to their 3-1 win at Chicago on May 8, five meetings ago.
Following a five-minute delay to clear the ice of the plush toys, Grand Rapids needed less than a minute more to pad its cushion to 2-0.
Makiniemi denied consecutive tries by Taro Hirose and Criscuolo on an odd-man break, but Criscuolo continued to lurk outside the crease and poked Riley Barber’s feed from the end boards inside the left post at 13:17.
Consecutive Griffins penalties early in the second gave the Wolves a prime opportunity to put a dent in Calvin Pickard, but Grand Rapids’ penalty killers didn’t allow a single shot over the four minutes of Chicago’s advantage.
McIsaac’s second goal of the night with 4:37 remaining in the frame pushed the lead to three, as the defenseman’s sharp-angle backhand from the right corner slipped through Makiniemi while Criscuolo and Jack Drury jockeyed for position at the near post. The Wolves pleaded with the referees for a goaltender interference call to no avail.
Awarded a third power play early in the final period, the Wolves lit the lamp on their 22nd shot of the night, a Josh Leivo one-timer from the left circle at 1:29. Just 57 seconds later, and on their next shot, the visitors cut their deficit to one when Maxim Letunov finished off a 3-on-2 rush by sending a shot over Pickard’s glove from the high slot.
Following a timeout by coach Ben Simon, Grand Rapids stopped the bleeding and nursed its 3-2 margin into the final two minutes. But Spencer Smallman blistered a shot into the net from low in the right circle to tie the contest with 1:36 remaining, before C.J. Smith gave Chicago its first lead 12 seconds later off a fortunate bounce. Stefan Noesen’s feed out of the left corner popped into the air off the arm of Andrew Poturalski and landed at the unguarded backdoor for an easy tap-in by Smith.
Poturalski added an empty-net tally at 19:18, sealing a defeat that dropped the Griffins to 0-3-1-0 against Chicago this season and snapped Grand Rapids’ four-game point streak (2-0-2-0).
- Criscuolo’s three-game goal streak ties Jonatan Berggren (Oct. 30-Nov. 5) for the longest on the team this season. He has totaled eight points (3-5—8) in those games.
- Pickard made his fifth straight start and ninth straight appearance, both personal highs as a Griffin. He had led Grand Rapids to points in eight straight decisions (6-0-2).
- Poturalski has tallied 12 points (5-7—12) in four games against Grand Rapids this season.
Chicago 0 0 5 - 5
Grand Rapids 2 1 0 - 3
1st Period-1, Grand Rapids, McIsaac 1 (Criscuolo), 12:19. 2, Grand Rapids, Criscuolo 5 (Barber, Hillman), 13:17. Penalties-No Penalties
2nd Period-3, Grand Rapids, McIsaac 2 (Criscuolo), 15:23. Penalties-Sebrango Gr (delay of game), 4:26; Hillman Gr (high-sticking), 7:03; Smallman Chi (slashing), 11:50; Drury Chi (fighting), 16:18; Sebrango Gr (fighting), 16:18.
3rd Period-4, Chicago, Leivo 1 (Poturalski, Bokk), 1:29 (PP). 5, Chicago, Letunov 4 (Miletic, Chatfield), 2:26. 6, Chicago, Smallman 2 (Drury, Poturalski), 18:24. 7, Chicago, C. Smith 5 (Poturalski, Noesen), 18:36. 8, Chicago, Poturalski 8 19:18 (EN). Penalties-Barber Gr (tripping), 1:08; Jacobs Chi (high-sticking), 14:53.
Shots on Goal-Chicago 11-8-15-34. Grand Rapids 12-7-13-32.
Power Play Opportunities-Chicago 1 / 3; Grand Rapids 0 / 2.
Goalies-Chicago, Makiniemi 6-2-1 (32 shots-29 saves). Grand Rapids, Pickard 7-3-2 (33 shots-29 saves).
1. CHI Smith (game-winning goal); 2. CHI Smallman (game-tying goal); 3. GR McIsaac (two goals)
Record / Next Game
Grand Rapids: 7-6-2-1 (17 pts.) / Sun., Nov. 28 at Chicago 4 p.m. EST
Chicago: 9-4-1-1 (20 pts.) / Sat., Nov. 27 vs. Rockford 7 p.m. CST
Photo by Nicolas Carrillo/Griffins