ROSEMONT, Ill. – Jeremy Williams recorded a natural hat trick in the third period of Saturday’s game against the Chicago Wolves, but the Grand Rapids Griffins were unable to overcome a four-goal deficit and fell 6-4 at Allstate Arena.
Paul Postma (1-2—3) paced the Wolves offensively, while Peter Mannino made 35 saves to backstop the West Division champions to their fifth-consecutive win over Grand Rapids this season.
The Griffins (33-39-3-4) will conclude their campaign on Sunday with a 6:00 p.m. EDT tilt against the Milwaukee Admirals at the Bradley Center.
Chicago (49-24-1-6) hardly looked like a team who fell to Milwaukee 8-1 a night earlier, as they built a commanding three-goal lead over Grand Rapids before the first intermission. On a power play opportunity, Joey Crabb gathered the puck on the left side of the net and quickly slipped a pass over to Postma, who finished the play by slamming a one-timer into the half-empty cage at 13:07. Just 3:01 later, Kevin Doell picked the puck off the Griffins’ defense at his own blue line and went in alone on Tomas McCollum to beat him with a backhand-forehand move.
With 24 ticks remaining in the frame, the Wolves scored their second power play goal of the night. Tim Stapleton grabbed a loose puck in front of the Griffins’ net and patiently coasted from the goal mouth to the right side of the crease to lift a shot over a sprawled out goaltender and net-front traffic.
The Wolves’ first period momentum carried over to the middle frame, as they went up by a 4-0 margin with a shorthanded goal just 1:11 into the stanza. Spencer Machacek picked up a loose puck near his own blue line and sprinted the length of the ice to snap a shot inside the left pipe.
Mechacek had a chance at another short hander at the 8:16 mark. On a breakaway, his progress was impeded by a Griffins defenseman, resulting in a penalty shot which McCollum kicked aside with ease.
Grand Rapids got on the board when Francis Pare whistled a shot past the blocker of Mannino at 15:01 of the period, but Chicago regained their four-goal lead when Johnny Pohl netted a one-timer from the right hash mark at 15:27.
Trailing 5-1 in the third period, the Griffins climbed within two of the West Division champions when Williams scored a pair of goals in a span of 2:35. At 7:46, during a power play, Corey Emmerton took a shot from the right circle and Williams buried the rebound before Mannino could recover to the far side of the net. At the 10:21 mark, Williams’ shot from 45 feet made the score 5-3.
Chicago answered again when Pohl went top shelf with a wrist shot in a two-on-one situation at the 17:24 mark, and Williams finished off his hat trick performance with a shorthanded tally with 19 seconds remaining.
McCollum made 21 saves in the loss for Grand Rapids.
Three Stars: 1. CHI Postma (1 goal, 2 assists); 2. CHI Machacek (1 goal, 1 assist); 3. GR Williams (3 goals).