Forward Adam Cracknell scored 26 seconds into the game and added 2 assists to pace the Chicago Wolves to a 5-3 victory over Western Conference leader Abbotsford on Saturday night at Allstate Arena.
Forwards Alexandre Bolduc, Shane Harper and Ty Rattie, and defenseman Evan Oberg also scored goals for the Wolves (30-17-4-2), while Keith Aucoin became the fifth player in American Hockey League history to register 600 career assists when he helped on Oberg's second-period goal.
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Matt Climie (7-9-0) stopped 34 of 37 shots to earn the win and keep the Wolves within a point of Grand Rapids in the Midwest Division.
"They're well-coached and they've got a lot of energy and they're smart with the puck, so it's a real good win for us," said Wolves head coach John Anderson. "Climie had a great game for us. He made a lot of big saves."
The Wolves needed just 26 seconds to get on the board as Dmitrij Jaskin peppered Abbotsford goaltender Olivier Roy with 3 shots from close range before Cracknell lifted the last rebound over Roy's leg.
The Wolves pushed their lead to 2-0 at 14:33 of the first when Cody Beach battled for the puck behind the net and centered it to Bolduc, who slid it through the five-hole for his eighth goal of the season.
Abbotsford (33-16-4-1) pulled within 2-1 with 29 seconds left in the first period when defenseman Chad Billins lobbed a shot from beyond the blue line that took a kangaroo hop over Climie's glove into the net.
Oberg rocketed home a shot from the point with the Wolves enjoying a 4-on-3 power-play advantage at 6:46 of the second.
Harper gave the Wolves a 4-1 lead at 11:57 of the second when he redirected Jani Hakanpaa's shot from the point. Abbotsford removed Roy at that juncture in favor of Aaron Dell.
The Heat cut the margin to 4-2 on Brett Olson's goal 51 seconds into the third period, then Corban Knight's power-play goal at the 6:53 mark slashed Chicago's lead to one.
The Wolves clinched the victory with 20 seconds left when Rattie threw his body to the ice to beat a Heat defender to the puck and deliver an empty-net goal.
Roy (6-4-0) stopped 16 of 20 shots and took the loss while Dell rejected all 7 shots he faced.
The Wolves host Abbotsford at 3 p.m. Sunday as they continue their four-game homestand.