Rosemont, Ill. --- Left wing Bill Sweatt flew into the offensive zone and whistled a shot past Grand Rapids goaltender Tom McCollum’s glove 18 seconds into overtime to give the Chicago Wolves a 4-3 victory Wednesday night at Allstate Arena.
Sweatt was mobbed by his teammates along the boards as the Wolves celebrated their seventh win in the last nine games. Jordan Schroeder contributed one goal and one assist while Tim Miller and Michael Davies added goals as the Wolves set up a big weekend series with first-place Charlotte.
The Wolves (28-18-1-3) pulled within 2 points of Charlotte in the American Hockey League’s Midwest Division. The Checkers visit Allstate Arena on Saturday and Sunday.
“We had a pretty good start, lost momentum and then Billy rescued us,” said Wolves head coach Craig MacTavish. “We have to tighten a few things up heading into the weekend series against Charlotte, but we are looking forward to playing them.”
Jamie Johnson, Grand Rapids’ leading goal-producer, opened the scoring with a power-play marker at the 3:46 mark, but the Wolves answered with two goals in a 33-second stretch.
Forward Nathan Longpre opened the spree when he carried the puck into the zone, spun around as he approached Grand Rapids goaltender Jordan Pearce and fired a backhand pass to Miller in front of the goal. Miller flipped home the puck at the 13:45 mark for his 14th goal of the season. Longpre and defenseman Adam Polasek earned assists.
Moments later, the Wolves attacked the goalmouth again. Schroeder’s shot from close range was denied, but Davies collected the rebound just outside of the crease and lifted it over Pearce’s glove at 14:18 of the first for his fourth goal in the last six games. Schroeder and Sweatt notched assists on the play.
Chicago jumped ahead 3-1 at 1:23 of the second period as Mike Duco kicked the puck to Schroeder in the circle. Pearce got a piece of Schroeder’s elevated shot, but not enough to prevent his 15th goal of the year. Grand Rapids coach Curt Fraser sent in backup goaltender Tom McCollum at that juncture.
The Griffins (20-20-5-4) pulled within 3-2 with a power-play goal at the 10:59 mark of the second. Minard flew in from the right wing and was denied by Wolves goaltender Eddie Lack, but Joakim Andersson swatted the rebound in mid-air into the back of the net.
Grand Rapids tied it at 10:37 of the third when defenseman Brendan Smith rifled home a one-timer from just inside the blue line through traffic.
Lack (13-12-3) posted 36 saves to win for the fourth time in five starts. McCollum (6-7-0) took the loss despite stopping all 15 shots in regulation.
The Wolves host Charlotte on Saturday and Sunday at Allstate Arena with the Midwest Division’s top spot on the line. For ticket information, visit ChicagoWolves.com or call 1-800-THE-WOLVES.
Grand Rapids 1 1 1 0 -- 3
Chicago 2 1 0 1 -- 4
First Period---1, Grand Rapids, Johnson 18 (Minard), 3:46 pp; 2, Chicago, Miller 14 (Longpre, Polasek), 13:45; 3, Chicago, Davies 7 (Schroeder, Sweatt), 14:18. Penalties---Roussel, Chicago (tripping), 2:10; Callahan, Grand Rapids (slashing), 4:22; Smith, Grand Rapids (tripping), 9:43.
Second Period---4, Chicago, Schroeder 15 (Duco), 1:23; 5, Grand Rapids, Andersson 13 (Minard, Nyquist), 10:59 pp. Penalties---Pyett, Grand Rapids (hooking), 2:38; Duco, Chicago (cross-checking), 3:44; Ferraro, Grand Rapids (fighting), 7:59; Miller, Chicago (fighting), 7:59; Mancari, Chicago (slashing), 10:12.
Third Period---6, Grand Rapids, Smith 9 (Janik, Johnson), 10:37. Penalties---Connauton, Chicago (cross-checking), 0:59.
Overtime---7, Chicago, Sweatt 11 (Tanev, Connauton), 0:18. Penalties---None.