PEORIA, Ill.---The Chicago Wolves came up short in their bid for a third Illinois Lottery Cup win in a 50-hour stretch as the Peoria Rivermen pulled off a 5-2 victory Sunday night at Carver Arena.
Defenseman Kevin Connauton and forward Mark Mancari produced their second goals of the season for the Wolves (2-3-0-2), who played their third game in as many nights. Goaltender Eddie Lack (1-2-0-2), making his first appearance since shutting out Rockford on Friday night, posted 32 saves.
The Rivermen (2-3-1-1), also playing for the third night in a row, received 2 goals from 2011 AHL all-star T.J. Hensick. He opened the scoring just 3:17 into the game when a fortuitous missed shot left him with an open net. Former Wolves standout Brett Sterling assisted on the goal.
Connauton evened the score 43 seconds later when he banked a wrist shot off a Peoria defender into the upper right-hand corner of the net. Jordan Schroeder and Victor Oreskovich earned assists on the play.
Peoria’s Adam Cracknell sat on the doorstep for an easy rebound goal to give the Rivermen a 2-1 lead after one period. Former NHL mainstay Jonathan Cheechoo, who led the NHL with 56 goals in 2005-06, pushed the margin to 3-1 when he received a pass in the slot and fired a shot so perfectly placed over Lack’s right shoulder it made the goalie’s water bottle pop into the air.
Hensick scored on another rebound at the 6:34 mark of the second period to put the Wolves down 4-1, but center Dean Strong set up Mancari for a close-range wrister to cut the deficit to 4-2 after two periods. Lombard native Bill Sweatt picked up an assist as well.
The Wolves had chances to get closer in the third period, but Peoria goaltender Ben Bishop (2-3-1-0) used all of his 6-foot-7 frame to make a diving save that denied Tim Miller. During a 4-on-4 stretch in the waning minutes, Connauton blasted a slapshot that clanged off the crossbar.
Peoria (2-3-1-1) wrapped it up on Cheechoo’s breakaway at the 17:50 mark. He raced down the right side and fed Anthony Nigro in front of the net for a tap-in.
The Wolves return to action at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Allstate Arena against Milwaukee in an Amtrak Rivalry game. For tickets, go to chicagowolves.com or call 1-800-THE-WOLVES.
Chicago 1 1 0 -- 2
Peoria 2 2 1 -- 5
First Period---1, Peoria, Hensick 3 (Sterling, Nesbitt), 3:17; 2, Connauton 2 (Schroeder, Oreskovich), 4:00; 3, Cracknell 2 (Syvret, Cheechoo), 12:09. Penalties---Cole, Peoria (high-sticking), 4:52; Clackson, Chicago (fighting), 7:37; Hagel, Peoria (fighting) 7:37; Ponich, Peoria (slashing) 16:25.
Second Period---4, Peoria, Cheechoo 3 (Cracknell), 4:15; 5, Hensick 4 (Cundari), 6:34; 6, Mancari 2 (Strong, Sweatt), 10:32. Penalties---Doell, Chicago (hooking), 10:55.
Third Period---7, Nigro 1 (Cheechoo, Cracknell), 17:50. Penalties---Cundari, Peoria (interference), 1:58; Fairchild, Peoria (interference), 7:55; Baumgartner, Chicago (tripping), 14:38; Barriball, Peoria (tripping); 14.58.
Shots on goal---Chicago: 11-9-9---29. Peoria: 11-16-10---37. Power plays---Chicago: 0-5. Peoria: 0-2. Goalies—Chicago, Lack (32-37). Peoria, Bishop (27-29). A---3,001. Referees---Terry Koharski and Jarrod Ragusin. Linesmen---Brian Oliver and Mathieu Chenier.