Ondrej Pavelec Backstops Wolves Past IceHogs and into Western Conference Finals
The AHL West Division Finals lived up to its advance billing, going the full seven games, which marked the first Game 7 the Wolves hosted since the 1998 IHL Turner Cup Finals.
Ondrej Pavelec stole the show, stopping 38 Rockford IceHogs shots to lead the Chicago Wolves to a 4-1 win in front of 5,218 boisterous fans at the Allstate Arena.
The victory propelled the Wolves into the AHL Western Conference Finals for the second straight year, and their fourth time since joining the AHL in 2001-02.
Overall, this will be their eighth appearance in the Conference finals in the team's 14-year history.
They got there in large part due to Pavelec's solid performance between the pipes in the decisive seventh game. Early in the third, with the Wolves up 2-0, Pavelec made two stellar stops of Rockford chances that would have cut the lead to one.
Soon after, Bryan Little gave the Wolves a 3-0 lead to give Chicago extra breathing room.
Despite the chippy nature of previous games between the two teams, there were only five penalties called all game.
The only penalty of the first period led to the game's first goal. With Rockford captain Jim Fahey in the penalty box for high-sticking, Jesse Schultz tucked home a rebound off the back boards past Corey Crawford.
Early in the second, Chicago's power play cashed in again, as Jason Krog fired home a one-timer off a feed from Darren Haydar.
On the game, Chicago's power play went 2-for-3, and the penalty kill kept Rockford's power play off the scoreboard.
The Wolves will now get a few days to prepare for the Toronto Marlies in the Western Conference finals.
In the regular season, the teams split two games, with the home team winning both times.
Game 1 is Friday at Allstate Arena in Chicago, with Game 2 following Sunday also in Chicago before the series shifts to Toronto for Games 3 and 4.
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