ROSEMONT, Ill.---The Chicago Wolves’ bid to extend their winning streak to a season-high-tying five games never gained traction Saturday night.
Former Wolves forward Brett Sterling set up Peoria’s go-ahead goal in the second period and provided the insurance goal in the third as the Rivermen earned a 4-1 Illinois Lottery Cup win in front of 10,912 fans at the Allstate Arena.
Center Jordan Schroeder produced the lone goal for the Wolves. His one-timer of a rebound pulled the hosts into a tie at 9:12 of the second period, but Peoria answered 46 seconds later and the Wolves (25-17-1-3) couldn’t catch up.
“We ran into a determined Peoria team tonight,” said Wolves head coach Craig MacTavish. “The playoff push is upon us and the games are tightening up now.”
For the second night in a row, the Wolves spotted the visitors the opening goal.
Right wing Adam Cracknell drove to the net from the corner and Wolves goaltender Matt Climie rejected his initial shot. With three Wolves surrounding Cracknell in the crease, the Peoria forward found a way to tap home the rebound for a 1-0 lead at the 5:37 mark of the first period.
The Wolves evened the score at 9:12 of the second period when Bill Sweatt’s shot from close range was denied, but Schroeder cleaned up the rebound as he rifled a one-timer past Peoria goaltender Ben Bishop for his 13th goal of the season.
Peoria (24-20-2-1) waited just 46 seconds to regain the lead. After finding open space in the middle of the Wolves zone, Sterling fed Derek Nesbitt for a quick wrister from the circle at 9:58 of the second.
Sterling gave the Rivermen some breathing room at 5:44 of the third period when he slipped through the Wolves blueliners for a breakaway. Sterling chipped the puck over Climie’s blocker for his 18th goal this season. Jonathan Cheechoo added an empty-net goal with 1:57 to play.
Bishop (20-12-0) delivered 29 saves for the win while Climie (14-7-0) stopped 20 shots for Chicago. For the sixth consecutive Wolves game, the team that attempted fewer shots picked up the victory.
The Wolves return to the ice Tuesday for their final School Day Game of the season. The Wolves host the Houston Aeros in an 11 a.m. contest at Allstate Arena.
Peoria 1 1 2 -- 4
Chicago 0 1 0 -- 1
First Period---1, Peoria, Cracknell 12 (Peluso), 5:37. Penalties---Duco, Chicago (slashing), 6:14; Cundari, Peoria (slashing), 10:40.
Second Period---2, Chicago, Schroeder 13 (Sweatt, Haydar), 9:12; 3, Peoria, Nesbitt 17 (Sterling, Hensick), 9:58. Penalties---Syvret, Peoria (hooking), 7:09; Peluso, Peoria (tripping), 17:46.
Third Period---4, Peoria, Sterling 18 (Heshka, Hensick), 5:44; 5, Peoria, Cheechoo 16 (Syvret, Della Rovere), 18:03 en. Penalties---None.
Shots on goal---Peoria: 7-7-10—24; Chicago: 6-10-14—30. Power plays---Peoria 0-3; Chicago 0-1. Goalies—Peoria, Bishop (29-30); Chicago, Climie (20-23). A---10,912. Referee---Geno Binda. Linesmen---Al Stensland and Peter Cichy.