Lyon Hockey

Second straight OT win draws Stockton in single game

STOCKTON, Calif. – It was another hot game in California on Saturday as the Stockton Heat and Chicago Wolves prepared to face off in a crucial Game 5 on Stockton ice to end the three-game series. After Friday’s overtime win, the Heat had shown signs of life and Saturday showed why Game 4 of a playoff series is the hardest to win.

Chicago has once again become a reliable veteran Alexander Lyons for Game 5, while the Heat once again went with their rookie phenom Dustin Wolf in fillet. Wolves continued their goalkeeping rotation as Stockton continued to ride the horse (or wolf) that got them to where they were.

Just like the first four games, this one would be another close and fast game between the top two teams in the American Hockey League. In the end, Stockton was able to enjoy overtime again by the score of 3-2, reducing Chicago’s series lead to 3-2 returning to Allstate Arena.

First period

The opening frame started slow, but a nasty Game 4 habit for Chicago kicked in early in this one: lack of discipline. Just five minutes later Josh Leivo cleared a Heat striker past Lyon after the whistle and put Wolves on an early penalty. While Wolves knew how to kill him, the relentless streaks of having to defend and unnecessarily put themselves at a disadvantage knock this team out of rhythm.

At equal strength, the Heat and the Wolves are such a good match. Both teams exchange chances and excellent goaltenders at each end. Lyon and Wolf each closed the door and, just like the first four games, the teams entered the opening intermission evenly matched.

Second period

The first few minutes of it were marred by some rather ridiculous bouncing with the puck unable to land on the ice surface – a constant problem with Stockton Arena throughout the season. Such a rebound created a break for the Heat which forced Josh Jacobs to take down his man, handing the wolves over to the PK. However, Chicago went the other way with the numbers, and Jalen Chatfield stepped into the game to feed Jack Drurry for a chance in the slot. Drury’s shot bounced Spencer Smallman and passed Wolf for the shorthanded goal and a 1-0 lead at Chicago.

Chicago followed up the successful kill with high odds from Jacobs and Stefan Noesen immediately afterwards, but a wandering stick of Andrew Poturalski put Wolves back on the PK again. Wolves would kill him, but Leivo would put them a man down again for two minutes. Immediately after this murder, Nick DeSimone had another hit in traffic as it has in all series. Walker Duehr with the presence in front of the net, he was able to put his stick on it for a perfect redirect past Lyon and tied the game at 1-1.

Despite holding a shooting advantage at 25-16 after two, and even with all the penalty problems they found themselves in, Wolves were all tied up ahead of a crucial third period.

Third period

Stockton struck early in this one on another rebound chance. Martin Pospisilthe first shot from in a scrum of players was not caught by Lyon, and Jacques Pelletier took the rebound and buried it past Lyon for the Heat’s 2-1 lead. Scoring 62 points in the regular season, the goal was Pelletier’s first point in the Western Conference Finals.

In the third period, it was the Heat who had penalty problems, and with Justin Kirkland sitting in the box, Wolves would take great pressure. Extended zone time wore out Stockton’s penalty killers until the puck was found Richard Panic in the high slot, which buried its chance to tie the game just before halftime of the period.

Chicago would have two more power-play chances to regain the lead with the miners in Kirkland and Connor Mackeybut were unable to change their appearance with different personnel – PP regulars Drury and Panik were both in the dressing room for repairs during these occasions.

At the end of the period Lyon had to act as heroes for Wolves with some great chances from Heat players with clear lanes to the net putting shots on the net and the Wolves keeper coming in to challenge the shooter and calmly making stops. There was another ridiculous carom on the boards when Lyon came out to play the puck, and the goaltender had to come back to recover and miraculously make the sprawling save on the ice.

The drama thankfully ended there, and for the third time in five games, these two tied teams needed overtime to settle this one.

Over time

Lyon opened the extra period to once again test their luck by coming out of the net – their attempt to play the puck was missed and abandoned to a forecheck by the Heat, who were unable to beat the chaos that would ensue to drop the puck into the wide-open net. Lyon even got away with throwing their stick away in desperation – a happy break for Wolves.

Unfortunately for Wolves, their luck would end there. Drury with a chance to get a clean look on a breakaway was thwarted by the puck failing to settle on his stick not once but twice. Going the other way, the Heat had the Wolves chasing the puck and Mackey put the puck in the slot, not mistaking his chance to send the Heat to their second overtime win in as many days.

Three stars:

  1. Connor Mackey – 1 goal, 1 assist
  2. Jacob Pelletier – 1 goal
  3. Walker Duehr – 1 goal

Take away food :

  • Even up 3-0 in this series, Chicago knew there was plenty of hockey left to play in this series and the Heat’s resilience over these past two games shows why. All five games in this series have been so closely contested that it’s no surprise that only one game separates these two, even given Stockton’s prospects after Game 3.
  • The wolves should send a bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolates to the Bakersfield condors. Their win over Stockton in the final game of the regular season pushed Wolves over the Heat in the final standings, giving Wolves the home ice advantage in this series and throughout the playoffs. With the ice conditions as they have been this week in Stockton, both teams should be grateful to have played their last game at Stockton Arena, at least for this series.
  • Discipline. Although he’s only given up one PPG in the entire series, giving Stockton 12 power play opportunities over the past two games has gotten the Heat back in this series. Back at home, Chicago must learn to keep their cool and not withdraw from the game as they have unfortunately become accustomed to in the last two games. Stay out of the box.

Look forward:

Game 6 takes place on Tuesday, June 14 at 7:00 p.m. CST at Allstate Arena. If the Heat win that one, Game 7 will be played Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. CST.

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Andrew Rinaldi covers the Chicago Wolves for The Sin Bin. Follow and interact with him on Twitter @SinBinWolves.