Wolves start final weekend of season with loss at Rockford

ROCKFORD — The Chicago Wolves began a stretch of three games in three days to wrap up the 2023-24 season by falling to the Rockford IceHogs 5-2 on Friday night at the BMO Center.

Rocco Grimaldi and Ronan Seeley scored and Josh Melnick had two assists, but the Wolves came up short in the 11th of 12 meetings between the Central Division rivals this season. After the Wolves prevailed in the first four matchups, the IceHogs have won seven in a row over Chicago.

“I don’t think we found our game in the first period, to be honest — it was a slow start,” Wolves captain Chris Terry said. “We took way too many penalties (six) — myself included — and the power play (0 for 4) didn’t capitalize when we had the chances.”

Rockford jumped in front 8:01 into the opening period when Austin Strand found the back of the net.

The Wolves answered right back 53 seconds later when Grimaldi rifled a wrist shot from the right dot that sailed past Rockford goaltender Drew Commesso to the glove side. Melnick and Chris Terry assisted on Grimaldi’s team-leading 35th goal of the season.

Later in the first, Rem Pitlick’s goal put the IceHogs out in front 2-1 and that’s how it stood heading into the first intermission.

Colton Dach scored early in the second to give Rockford a 2-goal advantage.

Seeley cut the Wolves’ deficit to 3-2 later in the second with his second goal of the season. With the teams skating four-on-four, Melnick won a faceoff in the Rockford zone to Seeley and the defenseman stepped into a one-timer shot from the high slot that beat Commesso to the glove side.

Rockford kept coming and Brett Seney’s goal 18 seconds later made it 4-2 IceHogs at the second intermission.

Jalen Luypen’s empty-net goal late in the third capped the scoring for the IceHogs.

Antti Raanta (28 saves) suffered the loss in goal for the Wolves while Commesso (21 saves) earned the win for the IceHogs.

The Wolves fell to 23-34-6-7 while Rockford moved to 38-25-8-4.

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