Nothing goes better with a school-approved day of hooky than a good game of hockey.
The Chicago Wolves made it a winner of a morning and afternoon Tuesday with a 2-1 victory over the Houston Aeros before a crowd of 9,231 screaming kids and their chaperones at Allstate Arena.
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The school-day game started at 11 a.m., hardly the normal time for a weekday hockey game. Not that the Wolves were complaining.
"We're 3-0 on 11 a.m., so we don't play enough of them," said Wolves coach Craig MacTavish, whose club improved to 26-17-1-3.
The early wake-up call was just fine with speedy center Jordan Schroeder, who scored short-handed at 16:34 of the third period to break a 1-1 tie.
Schroeder had just come racing in off the bench when Tim Miller fired a shot at Aeros goalie Matt Hackett from the left board. The rebound came out to Schroeder in the slot, and he buried it.
"You get up and go to the rink and do what you love to do instead of waiting around all day," said Schroeder, who has 12 points in his last 12 games. "We're 3-0, so let's get some more."
Schroeder, a first-round pick of the Vancouver Canucks (the Wolves' parent club) in 2009, plays on a line with speedy Bill Sweatt and veteran Darren Haydar.
"I like our line right now," said Schroeder, who has 14 goals for the season, good for second on the club. "We're making plays. We just have a little trouble finishing sometimes right now."
Neither team appeared in need of coffee during a fast first period. The Wolves scored quickly, with Michael Davies gladly accepting an errant Houston pass in the slot and putting it past Hackett.
The Aeros got their only puck past Wolves goaltender Eddie Lack during a 4-on-4 late in the second on a blast from Chay Genoway in the high slot.
Once again, Lack turned in a solid performance, stopping 28 of 29 shots and earning No. 1 star honors. He stopped a break by Jon DiSalvatore early in the third followed closely with another save close in on Cody Almond.
The school-day games seem popular around the American Hockey League, and why not? Teams can get a good midday crowd and put some kids in the building. And not to worry, parents. There was school work being done, as the public-address announcer instructed students during one stoppage to turn to their official Wolves workbooks for a geography lesson.
Whatever the time of day, Houston coach John Torchetti said that wasn't the problem.
"Nah, we just played one the other day, at noon, and another one prior to that at 11 at home," said Torchetti, an assistant coach with the Blackhawks on their Stanley Cup winning team two seasons ago. "It's a game. It was a good game for the fans. They did a good job. They had a good crowd. It came down to mistakes. We made two mistakes."
Aside from the result, Torchetti said it was good to be back in Chicago.
"Nothing but great memories here," he said. "Love it."