Wolves drop Game 1 to Springfield in OT

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Wolves' Stefan Noesen sets up shop near the crease and tracks the puck along with Springfield goaltender Charlie Lindgren during Game 1 of the Calder Cup Finals on Sunday.

    Chicago Wolves' Stefan Noesen sets up shop near the crease and tracks the puck along with Springfield goaltender Charlie Lindgren during Game 1 of the Calder Cup Finals on Sunday. Ross Dettman/Chicago Wolves

 
 
Updated 6/19/2022 8:27 PM

Dads aren't supposed to tax themselves too much on Father's Day.

Ideally, they can be found sitting on a back patio sipping a cold beverage and chomping down on a hot dog or brat while being pampered by their kids.

 

Four fathers on the Chicago Wolves had to work Sunday, though, and did their best to get their team off on right foot in the Calder Cup Finals at Allstate Arena.

Unfortunately, the Springfield Thunderbirds spoiled the party by storming back from a 2-goal deficit to claim a 5-4 overtime victory in Game 1. Springfield scored the game-winner when defenseman Matthew Kessel rifled a shot past goalie Alex Lyon 5:09 into OT.

Game 2 is at Allstate Arena on Monday at 7 p.m.

Richard Panik, Stefan Noesen, Andrew Poturalski and Josh Leivo -- the four Wolves' fathers -- jazzed up the crowd of 6,214 by combining for 2 goals, 4 assists and 15 shots on goal, but it wasn't enough for coach Ryan Warsofky's squad.

"I don't think we had our best tonight" Warsofsky said. "We had some guys that were just kind of passengers and maybe got surprised by the speed of the game, the intensity. Maybe that's being ... a little bit younger. But we've got to move on."

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Winnetka's Jack Drury -- whose dad played for the Wolves in 2000-01 -- and David Gust also scored for the Wolves. Panik and Gust scored 17 seconds apart midway through the second period to give the Wolves a 3-2 lead.

Noesen made it 4-2 early in the third period, but James Neal set up Tommy Cross 24 seconds later to once again make it a 1-goal game.

"We just didn't play to our capabilities," said Noesen, who led the AHL with 48 goals. "We had a good chance, we were up two and we let in that one. Just can't happen."

Springfield, which emerged from the Eastern Conference after a fierce seven-game battle with Laval, evened things up with just 88 seconds remaining.

During the Western Conference Finals -- which featured the Wolves and Stockton Heat -- there was some chatter about how the winner of that series would coast to the title. After all, those were the only two teams with points percentages of .700 or better.

But Springfield showed it has other plans. The speedy Thunderbirds hit hard, finish their chances and have a leader in Neal who has 296 NHL goals to his name. Blackhawks fans certainly remember that Neal was one of the big reasons why their team was swept by the Nashville Predators in the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The Wolves were often a step behind Sunday, giving up far too many prime scoring chances and committing 5 penalties. Panik was whistled for 2 in the first period alone.

So for those thinking this will be a cakewalk for the Wolves ... think again.

"Our game as a whole, it wears teams down," said Springfield coach Drew Bannister. "We're heavy on the forecheck; we're heavy on the cycle. As the game goes on -- as long as it's tight or it's in our favor -- we have a good opportunity to win."

Said Warsofsky: "They have really good players that can make you pay offensively and we learned that the hard way there in overtime."

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