Cleat Geeks

Hungry like the Wolves: Milwaukee Admirals vs. Chicago Wolves

ROSEMONT, Ill. – It was another Saturday night at the AllState Arena as the Wolves welcomed the Milwaukee Admirals to town on the second of a back to back home to home series.  The Wolves and Admirals take part in the Amtrak Rivalry every year, and so far this year, it’s been all Admirals.

Coming into tonight, the Admirals are 5-1-0-0 vs. Chicago this season.  For the Wolves, who said they cannot grab another win in this gut wrenching rivalry.HungryForMoreChicagoWolves

The Wolves have added a few players over the last week. One is Justin Crandall. Crandall, 23, has delivered 15 goals and 35 assists this season for the Reading Royals. The Lakeville, Minnesota, native leads all ECHL rookies in scoring. He turned pro late last season after amassing 40 goals and 39 assists in four seasons for the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Crandall has the skill and speed to contribute early and help this team get over the hump.

The Wolves are 3-6-2-0 in the month of February.  It has been a slow month as Jordan Binnington has really struggled.  Binnington is now 11-12-3 and has a GAA of 2.99.  It is unusual to see him play like this given all the success he has had in his career and recently being called up to the NHL. But even with the struggles, he is back in goal tonight looking to have a strong outing after giving up 4 goals on Friday night.

The Wolves were not going to let the Admirals run all over them again and it showed in the first period. The Wolves were aggressive from the start and played well on the boards. If you were to sum up the first in one word it would be: opportunities. Both the Wolves and the Admirals had a lot of quality chances.  Even though the Wolves led the shot category 11-4, the Admirals got pucks in deep and were aggressive on the boards. It was an entertaining first period to say the least.

EmersonClarkThe Wolves best shot came near the end of the first when LW Emerson Clark ripped a slap-shot from the left circle and almost got through the five-hole of G Marek Mazanec. Clark, just signed by the Wolves on February 13th, has one goal in seven games to start his AHL campaign.  Emerson is a young, fast skater with breakout potential as shown from his 15 goals in Tulsa earlier this year for the ECHL.

The Wolves could not have started the period any worse.  The Admirals scored right off the faceoff, 13 seconds in, to go up 1-0. C Colton Sissons of Milwaukee scored his 8th of the season with a forehand to backhand right over the blocker of Binnington. But it wouldn’t take long for the Wolves to put their foot in the ground and get themselves on the board.

Captain and All-Star Pat Cannone scored his 20th of the season 1:47 after the Admiral goal. That tied the game up and fans were getting into it.

Both teams had powerplay opportunities but failed to convert. The Wolves and Admirals both tacked on 11 shots in the 2nd period, but the Wolves lead the SOG 22-15.

And that was the end of the second period…..wait….no it’s not.  Emerson Clark of the Wolves and Jimmy Oligny of the Admirals dropped the gloves. Nothing like a good old fight to go into the locker-room fired up for the 3rd.

Didn’t I say this kid was going to come up big at some point!  Justin Crandall netted his first AHL goal, a beauty right over the shoulder of Mazanec, to put the Wolves up 2-1 with 14:53 remaining in the 3rd.  It panned out to be the game winner for the twenty-three year old. It only took him two games to score and now, already a game winner….living the dream if you ask me.

The Admirals would not go away. Their possession time and dump and chase kept them in this game but the outstanding goaltending and defense by the Wolves kept the 2-1 lead and eventually the victory. The final SOG total was 32-25 Wolves.ChicagoWolves

The Wolves move to 25-25-3-2 on the season.  With the addition of some very talented players, they will look to finish off the year strong and really work to gain a playoff berth.  With about a month and a half to go, it is very manageable for John Anderson’s young squad.

The Wolves will play their third game in three days as they travel to Grand Rapids to play the Griffins at 3pm on Sunday afternoon. The Wolves showed tonight that they can play some great hockey.  Now, it’s important to keep the momentum going, get the new guys going, and find a way to grind out the rest of the season in hopes of a playoff berth.

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