The Chicago Wolves dominated the Houston Aeros to win 4-1 Wednesday night at the Allstate Arena. Four Wolves lit the lamp while the team put 51 shots on the Houston net. Three other Wolves scored double points in the match. Michael Garnett looked in top form, making spectacular saves and stopping 35 Houston shots for his second straight win.
The road team took to the ice in the first period, blasting 17 shots at Houston goalie Miroslav Kopriva in a stunning exhibition of dominance. The Aeros entered the match with fire though. For the first several minutes putting Garnett and the Wolves blue line under cruel pressure. "Michael kept us in the game the first three minutes," head coach John Anderson said. "One of the stops he made could be the save of the year. He didn’t give Houston a chance."
The save in question was set up by a save by Garnett on the far right of the net. Aero Ryan Hamilton found the rebound with no traffic about 7’ from the goal. Wristing it into the net, Garnett’s glove appeared from nowhere to stop the shot—cold.
Kopriva also had some high points in the period, including stopping Cory Larose twice on breakaways and newcomer’s Niko Dimitrakos’ shot.
Turning the tide, the Wolves went on the offense. Although the outgunned Aeros held the Wolves off the board till the 16 minute mark, the control of the remainder of the period rested with an energized Chicago Wolves.
At that point the first line was on the ice, Darren Haydar and Jason Krog passed to Andy Delmore who put the biscuit in for the 1-0 lead. Two minutes later Mark Popovic on the power play found the back of the net with more assists from Haydar and Krog. And a minute after that Larose, also on the power play, put it in with just 55 seconds remaining in the period to make it 3-0.
The Aeros came out in the second frame with Dieter Kochan minding the iron. The Wolves in turn left something in the locker room as the period did not feature the dominance of the first frame. The teams fought back and forth as 20 minutes of penalties were called. At 11.31 past the start of the period Jordon LaVallee with Dimitrakos and Brian Sipotz assisting, fired past the glove of Kochan for a 4-0 lead.
Houston came back with just 50 seconds remaining in the period on a power play when Ben Thompson deflected a rebound by Roman Voloshenko past Garnett.
The third period was comparatively quiet until the 10.49 mark when Ryan Hamilton crossed the center line with the puck. Keeping his head down, he failed to see the oncoming Nathan Oystrick who gave him a hip check, sending Hamilton cannon balling into the offensive zone. Hamilton came up with fire in his eyes and a fight immediately ensued the most spectacular home check of the season.
The Wolves now have 13 wins at home. The record for fewest home wins is 19, established in two different seasons. Garnett received the win with 50 saves in the evening. Kopriva received the loss with 14 saves, all in the first period. Kochan had 33 saves in the second and third periods.
Houston is 0-12 in their last 12 matches in the month of March, going back to the 2006 season. It is also on a 12 game loss streak for road games. The team is in an unaccustomed last place in the Western Division.
Chicago took a three point lead in the Western Division over the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights with the win. The Knights have three games in hand on the Wolves.