AHL Central News: The Playoff Race Tightens Up

The temperature might be getting colder outside, but the heat is rising within the American Hockey League’s Central Division. An exciting week saw a winning streak get extended to double digits and a lengthy losing streak finally come to an end.

Admirals are Still Streaking

The Milwaukee Admirals (14-3-1-2) used another undefeated week to extend their lead in the Central Division. Their current 10-game winning streak has them sitting atop the entire AHL with 31 points.

The Nashville Predators were in need of some reinforcements so, on Monday, they recalled Mathieu Olivier and Steven Santini. The defense struggled a bit without them in the lineup Tuesday night, but the Admirals survived their big showdown at the Iowa Wild with a 6-5 shootout win.

Rem Pitlick continued his recent hot streak by scoring the lone goal of the first period while on the power play. The Wild drew even with a power-play tally of their own early in the second period. However, Pitlick struck again, while on the man-advantage, less than three minutes later. Yakov Trenin’s eighth goal of the season gave the Admirals a 3-2 lead, shortly after the Wild tied the game.

Rem Pitlick Milwaukee Admirals
Pitlick has been a scoring binge of late. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

The Wild scored three goals, less than four minutes apart, midway through the third period to open up a 5-3 lead. This set the stage for a dramatic late-game comeback. With goaltender Troy Grosenick on the bench for an extra attacker, Colin Blackwell cut the Wild’s lead to just one with less than two minutes to play. Alexandre Carrier’s first goal of the season tied the game, just 45 seconds later, with the Admirals’ net still empty.

After a scoreless overtime period, Daniel Carr scored the only goal of the shootout to give the Admirals their eighth straight victory. The goal also ended Milwaukee’s eight-game losing streak in Iowa. Their last win in Des Moines was way back on Nov. 28, 2017.

The Admirals ended their four-game road trip with a visit to the Grand Rapids Griffins on Friday night. Even with being outshot 15-6 and having to kill off three penalties, the Admirals took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission. Laurent Dauphin opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal from the left circle less than eight minutes into the game.

The Griffins fought back in the middle stanza to take a 2-1 lead into the third period. The Admirals’ scorching-hot power play evened things up less than three minutes after the break when Carrier’s shot from the point made through traffic and into the net. Carr scored the game-winner, about six minutes later, by tapping in a pass from Tommy Novak. Connor Ingram made 34 saves for the win.

The Admirals cruised to their 10th straight win with a 5-0 win in Saturday night’s rematch with the Griffins in Milwaukee. Eeli Tolvanen opening the scoring while on the league’s top-rated power play by burying a shot from the slot.

Eeli Tolvanen Milwaukee Admirals
Tolvanen found the back of the net twice on Friday. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Carr scored his 10th goal in the last 10 games just over a minute into the second period to double the lead. Late in the frame, Pitlick finished off a 2-on-1 rush for his fifth goal in as many games to extend the advantage to three goals.

Tolvanen added another goal, late in the third period, for his first multi-goal game of the season. Josh Wilkins capped off the scoring with his third goal of the season 29 seconds later. Grosenick made 19 saves for his first shutout this season.

Player of the Week

Carr won the AHL MVP last season despite missing the final month of the season because he put up points in bunches and that is exactly what he has been doing of late. He has at least one point in each and every game of the Admirals 10-game winning streak. He had two goals and five points last week. Carr trails Lucas Elevens of the Chicago Wolves by just four points for the AHL lead in scoring even though he has played in five fewer games.

On Monday morning, Carr was recalled by the Predators and was inserted onto their second line versus the St. Louis Blues.

The Week Ahead

Wednesday, Nov. 27 vs Manitoba Moose; Saturday, Nov. 30 @ San Antonio Rampage; Sunday, Dec. 1 @ Texas Stars

Wild Lose Ground Despite Big Week

The second-place Wild (11-4-2-2) took five out of a possible six points last week. However, despite their success, they still lost a point in the standing to the red-hot Admirals. Their 26 points have them five back of the division leaders.

The Wild hosted the first-place Admirals on Tuesday night, a team they hadn’t lost to on home ice in nearly two years. They looked to be on their way to a huge win but dropped a heartbreaking decision, 6-5, in a shootout.

The visitors took a 1-0 into the second period, but Sam Anas scored on the power play, just 1:36 into the frame, to even things up. Shortly after the Admirals regained a 2-1 lead, defenseman Matt Bartkowski scored a shorthanded goal to, once again, tie the game.

Sam Anas, Iowa Wild
Anas continues to chip in for the Wild. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

The Wild trailed 3-2 at the start of the final stanza and they scored three straight goals to take an apparent stranglehold on the game. Brendan Menell tied the game when his shot from the point deflected off an Admirals’ defender. Less than two minutes later, J.T. Brown fired a one-timer into the Milwaukee net for a 4-3 lead. Gabriel Dumont doubled the lead, shortly thereafter, by cashing in on the rebound off Brown’s shot from the left circle.

While the Wild looked to be cruising to a win, the Admirals scored two late goals, just 45 seconds apart, with their goaltender on the bench for an extra attacker. The game headed to a shootout when neither team could score in overtime. Anas, Gerry Mayhew and Menell were all denied in the shootout while Kaapo Kahkonen allowed a goal to drop the extra point.

The following morning, the Minnesota Wild recalled Kahkonen as Devan Dubnyk is on a leave of absence to attend to a family matter. Dereck Baribeau was recalled from the Allen Americans of the ECHL to take Kahkonen’s roster spot.

Kaapo Kahkonen Iowa Wild
Kahkonen will make his NHL debut Tuesday night. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

With Kahkonen in the NHL, Mat Robson got both starts in a weekend series versus the visiting Bakersfield Condors. Saturday night’s contest was scoreless until the visitors lit the lamp just over two minutes into the second period.

Mayhew became the first Wild player to score 10 goals this season when he tied the game midway through the sandwich stanza. Former Chicago Blackhawks draft pick Luke Johnson, who was making his season debut, picked up an assist on the play. The Condors regained the lead before the second intermission.

Connor Dewar’s second goal of season evened the game at 2-2, less than five minutes into the third period. Cody McLeod scored the eventual game-winning goal four minutes later by batting the puck out of midair during a mad scramble in front of the net. Johnson capped off his successful debut by scoring an insurance goal late in the game.

“Going into the third period, we knew we were playing well,” McLeod said after the victory. “Once we got the lead, everybody bore down and got the job done. We got the two points, that’s the most important thing.”

The Wild needed some late-game magic to win Sunday’s rematch in a shootout. For the second straight game, the Condors opened the scoring. McLeod scored his second goal in as many games, late in the second period, to tie the game. Bakersfield regained their lead by scoring a power-play tally with just 21.3 seconds left in the middle frame.

Dumont’s second goal of the week and seventh on the season tied the game early in the third period. The game remained even through the remainder of the third period and overtime. The shootout went eight rounds before Brown finally won it for the Wild. Anas and Nico Sturm had the other tallies. Robson made 29 saves for his second win of the weekend.

Gabriel Dumont Minnesota Wild
Dumont has been a huge addition to the Wild this season. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

This was the team’s sixth come-from-behind victory this season and the fourth when trailing after two periods, the most in the AHL.

Player of the Week

McLeod is not a player known for his scoring ability. The 35-year-old veteran has just 72 goals in 776 career NHL games while amassing 1630 penalty minutes. He had two huge goals versus the Condors over the weekend; the game-winning goal on Saturday and a game-tying marker on Sunday. This was the first time he had scored goals in back-to-back games since 2015 when he was a member of the Colorado Avalanche. He also had an assist to be one of six players to lead the way with three points last week.

The Week Ahead

Tuesday, Nov. 26 @ Stars; Saturday, Nov. 30 @ Stars; Sunday, Dec. 1 @ Rampage

Rampage Return to Their Winning Ways

The Rampage (8-6-4-2) recovered nicely from a six-game losing streak to earn five out of eight possible points last week. They currently find themselves in third place of the Central Division with 22 points.

The top line of Nathan Walker, Mike Vecchione and Jordan Kyrou is quite the dynamic trio and they flexed their collective muscle in the Windy City. This combination was responsible for all five goals in Tuesday night’s 5-3 win over the Chicago Wolves and combined for 12 points on the night.

The Wolves carried a 2-0 lead into the second period after scoring a pair of power-play goals during the opening frame. Vecchione got the comeback started with his 10th goal of the season just 88 seconds into the second period. He struck again, about seven minutes later, to tie the game by scoring while on his knees.

Walker joined the party with his 10th goal of the season just 53 seconds into the third period. The Wolves tied things up four minutes later and the game felt like it was heading to overtime. Walker made sure this game would end in regulation with another goal at the 15:54 mark. Kyrou iced the game with a 5-on-3 power-play goal in the final minute of the game.

Jordan Kyrou
Kyrou’s play has him on the fast track back to St. Louis (Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports)

Despite the two early power-play goals against, the Rampage dominated the 5-on-5 play and outshot the Wolves 40-19. Goaltender Adam Wilcox made 16 saves to end the team’s six-game losing streak.

The road trip continued with a visit to Grand Rapids and a meeting with the Griffins the following evening. For the second straight night, the Rampage gave up the first two goals of the game, including one just 23 seconds after the opening draw. Former Griffin Zach Nastasiuk buried the rebound off an Evan Polei shot to get his team on the board. Defenseman Derrick Pouliot tied the with a power-play tally with less than three minutes to play in the opening period.

The Griffins regained their two-goal advantage with a pair of goals during the sandwich stanza. The Rampage made things interesting by converting on a power play with just over four minutes to play. With goaltender Ville Husso on the bench for an extra attacker for a 6-on-4 advantage, Kyrou found Walker all alone at the back post for an easy tap-in goal. Unfortunately for the Rampage, that was as close as they would get.

The Rampage hosted their annual “Hockey Fights Cancer” night on Saturday and Husso fought off all 26 shots he faced in a 4-0 shutout of the Stars. The shutout was his second of the season and eighth in his AHL career.

Rookie Alexey Toropchenko scored the only goal the Rampage would need, early in the game, by redirecting a Joey LaLaggia shot into the Texas net.

Vecchione continued his big week with another goal just 31 seconds into the middle period. Kyrou and Walker picked up the assists on Vecchione’s 12th goal of the season. Before the second period ended, Jordan Nolan scored off a redirection to increase the lead to 3-0.

Jake Walman finished off the scoring with a power-play goal midway through the third period. Pouliot had the primary assist on the play and now leads the league with 12 assists and 14 points on the power play.

“I think we played a good hockey game,” said Husso after blanking the Stars. “The first period was tough, but the last two periods were pretty good. We managed the puck. That’s a good win for us. A good bounce back from a tough loss in Grand Rapids.”

They finished off their busy week by hosting the Rockford IceHogs on Sunday afternoon. It looked like the Rampage were well on their way to another victory, but the IceHogs rallied late to steal a 3-2 overtime win.

Ryan Olsen put the Rampage up 1-0, just 3:30 into the game, by hacking at a loose puck in front of the net and pushing it over the goal line. Pouliot doubled the lead with just six seconds left in the first period by blasting a slap shot right off of a Vecchione faceoff win. The defenseman now has a four-game points streaks and 10 points in his last 10 games.

The Rampage dominated the play for much of the game as the IceHogs had played the previous night. The visitors got their feet back under them in the third period and got on the board midway through the frame. They forced overtime with just 2.4 seconds remaining in regulation and won the game 16 seconds into the extra time. San Antonio is now 0-for-4 in games decided in overtime this season.

Player of the Week

As mentioned earlier, the Rampage’s top line was on fire this past week. Vecchione, Walker and Kyrou combined for seven goals and 19 points in four games. The nod will go to Walker, who led the way with three goals and seven points. He is now tied for second in the AHL in goals with 12 and third in overall scoring with 22 points.

The Week Ahead

Tuesday, Nov. 26 vs IceHogs; Saturday, Nov. 30 vs Manitoba Moose; Sunday, Dec. 1 vs Wild

Moose Have Winning Streak Snapped

The Moose (10-10-0-0) entered the week as one of the hottest teams in the league. They were tripped up with a tough weekend in Toronto, but are still holding onto a playoff spot with 20 points.

Their week on the road began on Wednesday night as the Moose picked up their seventh straight victory at the Belleville Senators. They got all the scoring they would need in the first period.

Early in the game, Nathan Todd cleaned up a rebound from a Nelson Nogier shot for his first career AHL goal. Late in the opening period, Emilie Poirier doubled the lead with his third goal of the season. Jansen Harkins picked up the lone assist, his 16th, to extend his personal point streak to 10 straight games.

Goaltender Mikhail Berdin took it from there, making 38 saves, for his seventh win in as many starts. The Senators got one puck past him in the opening minute of the third period, but he stood tall the rest of the way.

Mikhail Berdin Manitoba Moose
Berdin was a huge factor in the Moose’s seven-game winning streak. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

On Thursday, the Moose announced they will be retiring the number 21 worn by Jimmy Roy on Feb. 7. He played 603 games in Manitoba and is the all-time franchise leader in games played, penalty minutes and is second in overall, game-winning and shorthanded goals as well as shots on goal.

The seven-game winning streak was snapped at the hands of the Toronto Marlies on Saturday afternoon. The Marlies flexed their muscle by building up a 4-0 lead after a scoreless first period. They opened the scoring early in the second period and doubled their lead late in the frame. They put the game out of reach with another pair of goals within the first 1:58 of the third period.

The Moose made things interesting with two goals, just 27 seconds apart, midway through the final period. Kristian Vesalainen beat former Moose goaltender Michael Hutchinson for his fourth goal of the season. Skyler McKenzie blasted home a one-timer quickly afterward, but that was as close as they would get.

It was more of the same in Sunday’s rematch as the Marlies won 4-1. They grabbed a 2-0 lead with a pair of goals just 30 seconds apart, early in the second period.

After having his point streak ended on Saturday, Harkins cut the Marlies lead in half with a power-play goal just over three minutes into the third period. However, the Marlies had another pair of quick goals, this time 26 seconds apart, to ice the game late in regulation.

“If they are going to work that hard every single night, then we are going to win a lot of hockey games,” head coach Pascal Vincent said of his team’s effort. “I thought we played a hard game. They took advantage of their chances more than we did, but we had our chances.”

Player of the Week

Harkins and Vesalainen were the only two players to have multiple points for the Moose last week. Harkins is now up to third in AHL scoring with 22 points, but the honor will go to Vesalainen. He had a point in each of the games in Toronto and his four goals already equal his total from last season.

Kristian Vesalainen Manitoba Moose
Vesalainen gets Player of the Week honors. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

The Week Ahead

Wednesday, Nov. 27 @ Admirals; Friday, Nov. 29 @ Griffins; Saturday, Nov. 30 @ Wolves

Griffins Look to Rebound After Tough Weekend

The Griffins (9-9-1-1) started the week off on the right foot but dropped a weekend set against the Admirals. They have 20 points and find themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to a playoff spot because the Moose has one more win.

Moritz Seider, the sixth-overall pick of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, had the biggest night of his young professional career on Wednesday night. The 18-year-old defenseman had an assist and his first AHL goal to help the Griffins knock off the visiting Rampage.

Seider picked up his assist, just 23 seconds into the game, when shot the puck wide of the net, where veteran forward Turner Elson was able to get to the bounce of the end boards and score from a tough angle. Less than five minutes later, another rookie, Gregor MacLeod raced to a loose puck and fired it home to double the Griffins’ lead.

Moritz Seider Grand Rapids Griffins
Seider is really coming into his own of late. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

The Rampage fought back to tie the game at 2-2 before the first intermission with a pair of goals, including a late power-play conversion.

Ryan Kuffner’s power-play goal, off a rebound, gave the Griffins a 3-2 lead about nine minutes into the second period. Less than five minutes later, Seider jumped out of the penalty box and finished off a 3-on-1 rush with the eventual game-winning goal.

The Rampage struck again on the power play, with about four minutes to play in the third period, but they were unable to get any closer. The 4-3 decision was the first Griffins’ game to be decided by one-goal in regulation this season. Pickard stopped 13 of the 14 shots he faced in the final period for his 100th career AHL win.

The Griffins welcomed in the Admirals on Friday for the start of a home-and-home series. They received some reinforcements as forwards Givani Smith and Troy Loggins were added to the roster Friday morning. Smith was not in the lineup that evening, but Loggins was and picked up an assist.

Despite a 34-26 shot advantage, the Griffins were unable to cool off the Admirals in a 3-2 defeat. The Admirals struck first with a shorthanded goal early in the first period; the AHL-high sixth shorthanded goal the Griffins have allowed on the season. In addition to giving up the early shorthanded goal, the Griffins went 0-for-3 on the power play during the opening frame.

Jarid Lukosevicius scored on a breakaway to tie the game just two minutes into the second period. Shortly after killing off a lengthy 5-on-3 power play, Filip Zadina gave the Griffins a 2-1 lead during a delayed penalty.

Filip Zadina Grand Rapids Griffins
Zadina’s play has him headed back to Detroit. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

That would be the last time the hometown fans would have something to cheer for. The Admirals tied the game with an early third-period goal on the power play. They grabbed a 3-2 lead with 11:35 left to play and hung on for the win. The Griffins finished the night 0-for-5 on the power play.

The rematch in Milwaukee Saturday night did not go well for the Griffins, as they were blown out 5-0. The Admirals held the Griffins to just 20 shots on goal as they were shutout for the second time this season.

The Admirals scored once in the first period, twice in the second and added two more goals late in the game to pull away. The struggles on the power play continued as the Griffins could not convert on any of their four chances.

On Sunday, the Detroit Red Wings recalled Zadina for his second stint in the NHL. The team also announced that they released defenseman Blake Hillman from his professional tryout contract (PTO).

Player of the Week

It took a few games for Seider to get his feet underneath him, but the rookie defenseman has been playing very good hockey of late. He led the Griffins with three points last week, including his first professional goal. He is second on the team with 10 assists and tied for third in overall scoring with 11 points.

“I think he has gotten better every game,” veteran Chris Terry recently said of Seider. “The last 10 games he’s been really good. He’s been physical. For an 18-year-old, he’s been playing like a man. A new country, a new league. The high expectations of being the sixth-overall pick, it’s not easy. I think he’s found his game.

The Week Ahead

Wednesday, Nov. 27 @ Wolves; Friday, Nov. 29 vs Moose; Saturday, Nov. 30 @ IceHogs

IceHogs Have a Flare for Dramatics

The IceHogs (9-7-0-1) had themselves a crazy weekend in the state of Texas. They came out with three points and very easily could have had four or none at all. They are in sixth place in the Central Division with 19 points, just one point out of a playoff spot.

Before the IceHogs hit the road, they acquired veteran forward Joseph Cramarossa from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for forward Graham Knott. The move was not a huge surprise as the team was in need of some veteran leadership after captain Kris Versteeg left the team last week. Knott, a former second-round pick by the Chicago Blackhawks, had been playing in the ECHL all season.

Related – Kris Versteeg: Forever a Blackhawk

Saturday night’s game at the Stars featured a little bit of everything; a fight, 12 combined goals, multiple lead changes and a shootout. In the end, the IceHogs lost 7-6 in a shootout, leaving an extra point on the ice.

Alexandre Fortin opened the scoring, 6:31 into the game, with his second goal in as many games. The Stars came back with two goals of their own before Tyler Sikura tied the game with a power-play goal before the end of the first period.

Alexandre Fortin Rockford Icehogs
Fortin is starting to find the back of the net more often. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

John Quenneville gave the IceHogs a 4-2 lead with consecutive goals, about nine minutes apart, in the second period. This was the seventh multi-goal game in Quenneville’s AHL career and first with the IceHogs. The Stars answered with two goals less than three minutes after Quenneville’s second tally to level the playing field. Anton Wedin’s fourth goal of the season gave the IceHogs a 5-4 lead after 40 minutes.

The Stars came out firing in the third period and tied the game at the 2:31 mark. They took a 6-5 lead about 10 minutes later, but the IceHogs had one more answer for them. With less than four minutes to play, Brandon Hagel cashed in off a rebound from a Wedin shot. Adam Boqvist was credited with the secondary assist for his third assist of the evening.

After a scoreless overtime, the game went to a shootout. Cramarossa needed to score in the fourth round to keep the game alive, but he was denied.

The IceHogs had a quick turnaround as they got on the bus to San Antonio after and took the ice against the Rampage about 15 hours later. They naturally looked a bit sluggish and fell behind 2-0 in the first period.

Things started to pick up midway through the game and the IceHogs eventually got on the board exactly halfway through the third period. Boqvist set up Tyler Sikura for his team-leading eighth goal of the season to start the comeback. Tyler’s brother Dylan got to a loose puck and fired it home with just 2.4 seconds left in regulation. It was Sikura’s first goal since he netted a hat trick versus the Wolves on Nov. 3.

Tyler Sikura Rockford Icehogs
Tyler Sikura leads the IceHogs with eight goals. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Jacob Nilsson stole the extra point by finishing off a breakaway just 16 seconds into overtime to send the stunned crowd home disappointed. Matt Tomkins made 21 saves for the win.

“I think we had to make some adjustments on the fly,” Tyler Sikura said of the comeback. “We realized that it was going to be kind of ugly and we were going to have to work really hard. There’s not going to be a ton of plays out there, but we just got to find a way and we did that. We don’t want to make a habit of coming from behind like that, but it is nice to know that we can.”

Player of the Week

Boqvist took to the ice against the Stars with zero assists on the season. The eighth overall pick of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft picked up the first five assists on his professional over the weekend and found himself on top of the scoresheet for the IceHogs. He had a goal in his first six games with the Blackhawks earlier this month and will get back to Chicago soon with more weeks like this.

Adam Boqvist Rockford Icehogs
Boqvist had a huge weekend with five assists. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

The Week Ahead

Tuesday, Nov. 26 @ Rampage; Friday, Nov. 29 vs Wolves; Saturday, Nov. 30 vs Griffins

New Additions, Same Results for Wolves

The Wolves (8-12-1-0) are still trying to figure out how to consistently play 60 minutes a night. The three-time defending Central champions have dropped to seventh place, with just 17 points, after a winless week.

The team was back in action Tuesday night when they hosted the Rampage in the 1000th home game in franchise history; all of which have been played at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont. However, San Antonio played spoiler with a 5-3, come-from-behind victory.

Both Brandon Pirri and Nicolas Roy were in the lineup for Chicago and they made an immediate impact less than two minutes into the game. Pirri had the secondary assist on Roy’s power-play goal as he had an easy tap-in goal after being left all alone on the doorstep.

Vegas Golden Knights Brandon Pirri
Pirri is back with the Wolves, where he has had great success. (Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports)

Roy scored his second power-play tally of the night later in the opening frame. This time, he was able to put home the rebound off of defenseman Jimmy Schuldt’s shot from the point.

“The PP started off pretty good in the first period,” Roy said shortly after the final horn. “A couple of good passes by the guys out there. The PP played pretty good tonight, but we’ve got to get better at 5-on-5. Especially our line, I think we were pretty bad defensively tonight.”

The Rampage began their comeback with a pair of goals just over eight minutes into the second period. They took their first lead of the night less than a minute into the third period. Curtis McKenzie had an answer, four minutes later, by tying the game from the slot after a nice setup pass from Gage Quinney.

The Rampage scored the eventual game-winning goal with 4:06 left in regulation and added a final goal, while on a two-man advantage, in the final minute of play.

“The enthusiasm turned into a lack of effort from everybody and they just thought it was going to be easy,” a visibly upset head coach Rocky Thompson said. “We scored some pretty goals on the power play but the 5-on-5 game wasn’t great for me. We thought we could play a different style of game, all of a sudden, and we started mismanaging pucks. In my opinion, they laid the boots to us.”

The Wolves headed east for a two-game set with the Cleveland Monsters beginning on Thursday night. Tye McGinn gave the visitors an early 1-0 lead by finishing off a 2-on-1 rush with Quinney, just over six minutes into the game. Shortly after the Monsters tied the game on a redirection, Jake Leschyshyn gave the Wolves a 2-1. However, the game headed to the first intermission even at 2-2 after a late-period goal by the home team.

Gage Quinney Chicago Wolves
Quinney has been a leader in Chicago this season. (Sarah Avampato / The Hockey Writers)

Cleveland grabbed a 3-2 lead about five minutes into the middle frame, but the Wolves had an answer about 12 minutes later. Pirri tied the game with his first AHL goal since Jan. 5 by getting to a loose puck in the slot and firing home a rising wrist shot.

That would be the final goal the Wolves would score during their trip to Cleveland. The Monsters scored a pair of third-period goals to grab the 5-3 victory.

The two teams got back together at the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on Friday night for the rematch. The Wolves seemed to be running on fumes, playing in their fifth game in the last seven days and dropped a one-sided 3-0 decision.

After a sluggish opening period, the Monsters scored a pair of goals midway through the second frame. They added a third and final goal early in the final period. The Wolves were only able to get 16 shots on goal as they continue to struggle to find a consistent offensive attack.

Player of the Week

We will split this honor between Pirri and Roy, who were both reassigned by the Vegas Golden Knights last week. Roy had a pair of power-play goals while Pirri added a goal and an assist on the week. While these two add more firepower to the Wolves’ offense, they have not been the quick fix to the team’s overall issues many had hoped for.

The Week Ahead

Wednesday, Nov. 27 vs Griffins; Friday, Nov. 29 @ IceHogs; Saturday, Nov. 30 vs Moose

Stars Finally Get Back into the Win Column

The Stars (4-13-0-2) finally had something to celebrate over the weekend. After being shutout on Friday night, they finally snapped their 12-game losing streak with an offensive explosion on Saturday. They still sit at the bottom of the Central standings with 10 points.

Goaltender Colton Point was recalled from the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads on Thursday and he was between the pipes when the Stars traveled to San Antonio of Friday night. However, the offense did not give him any support in a 4-0 loss. He made 28 saves in his first AHL start of the season.

The offense showed up in a big way Saturday night when the Stars beat the IceHogs 7-6 in a shootout. After surrendering the opening goal of the night, Jason Robertson responded four minutes later to tie the game when his shot deflected off an IceHogs defender. Michael Mersch gave the Stars their first lead of the night by scoring off a rebound.

The IceHogs scored the next three goals to open up a 4-2 midway through the second period. Joel L’Esperance potted his fifth goal of the season, while on the power-play, to cut the deficit to one goal, just 38 seconds after Rockford’s fourth goal. Just over two minutes later, Nicholas Caamano tied the game with another power-play goal. The IceHogs had yet another response and grabbed a 5-4 lead just before the end of the period.

Defenseman Gavin Bayreuther tied the game with a long-distance bomb in the opening minutes of the third period. Robertson’s second goal of the night gave the Stars a 6-5 lead with just over seven minutes to play, but the IceHogs fought back to draw even again.

Robertson and L’Esperance scored during the four-round shootout while Landon Bow stopped three of the four shots he faced. The win was the team’s first since Oct. 19.

Landon Bow Texas Stars
Bow came up big in the shootout Saturday night. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

“I’ll tell you what, the weight has been lifted off these guys’ backs,” a relieved head coach Derek Laxdal said after the exciting victory. “It was a long losing streak and I give our guys credit for the way they played tonight. We knew it was going to be a hard-fought, tough game. I feel really happy for the guys. It was a good night after a long month.”

Player of the Week

The Stars scored all six of their goals for the week on Saturday night. Robertson led the way with a pair of goals and an assist. He also had a goal in the shootout which helped end the Stars’ 12-game losing streak. The rookie forward leads the Stars with six goals and 11 points.

The Week Ahead

Tuesday, Nov. 26 vs Wild; Saturday, Nov. 30 vs Wild; Sunday, Dec. 1 vs Admirals