HOUSTON, TX---In the heat of the playoff race, the Chicago Wolves were frozen out by the Houston Aeros with a 5-2 loss Friday night at Toyota Center.
Darren Archibald and Bill Sweatt tallied scores for Chicago (33-25-5-4), which is tied with Midwest Division rivals Milwaukee and Rockford in the chase for the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference playoffs.
Goaltender Matt Climie stopped 9 of 13 shots for the Wolves before being replaced by Joe Cannata as Houston (35-24-5-5) scored four times in the second period.
The Aeros jumped out to the early lead when center Zack Phillips batted a puck out of the air and into Climie’s net on an Aeros power play at 5:35 of the first period.
In rapid succession, the Wolves fired back with a score of their own off Archibald’s stick. He rifled a shot past Aeros goaltender Cody Reichard’s short side at 6:07 to tie the game.
Both sides enjoyed plenty of go-ahead opportunities, but it wasn’t until the second frame that scoring started again -- in a big way.
The Aeros notched three straight scores from Steven Kampfer, Jason Zucker, and Dan DaSilva in the span of eight minutes. Following DaSilva’s wraparound goal, produced on a net left empty by Climie as he tried unsuccessfully to poke away the puck, Wolves coaches replaced Climie with Cannata at the 13:09 mark of the period.
The change sparked a brief charge from the Wolves as left wing Sweatt pounced on a huge rebound 20 seconds later and fired it through Reichard at 13:29 to make it 4-2 Houston.
The momentum wouldn’t stay in the Wolves favor, though. As the clock wound down on the second frame, Zucker came calling again on the power play. He went on a breakaway and scored through the five-hole to put the Aeros up 5-2 heading into the third.
The Wolves continue their season-high six-game road trip with a 7 p.m. Saturday at Oklahoma City. The team returns to Allstate Arena on Saturday, April 13, to welcome the Charlotte Checkers. For tickets, call 1-800-THE-WOLVES or visit ChicagoWolves.com.
Chicago 1 1 0 -- 2
Houston 1 4 0 -- 5
First Period---1, Houston, Phillips 7 (Scandella, Petersen), 5:35 pp; 2, Chicago, Archibald 11 (Schroeder, Hunt), 6:07. Penalties---Groulx, Chicago (interference), 4:35; Medvec, Houston (roughing), 7:53; Kampfer, Houston (interference), 11:04.
Second Period---3, Houston, Kampfer 3 (Fontaine, Zucker), 5:25; 4, Houston, Zucker 23 (Fontaine, Connelly), 11:29 pp; 5, Houston, DaSilva 4 (Phillips, Connelly), 13:09; 6, Chicago, Sweatt 13 (Vandermeer, Schroeder), 13:29; 7, Houston, Zucker 24 (unassisted), 19:24. Penalties---Longpre, Chicago (tripping), 10:55; Blain, Chicago (cross-checking), 15:33.
Third Period---None. Penalties---Vandermeer, Chicago (fighting), 4:55; Broda, Houston (fighting), 4:55.
Shots on goal---Chicago: 8-11-13--32; Houston: 7-9-5--21. Power plays---Chicago 0-2; Houston 2-3. Goalies—Chicago, Climie (9-13) replaced at 33:09, Cannata (7-8); Houston, Reichard (22-24) replaced at 49:19; Deslauriers (8-8). A---7,225. Referee---David Banfield. Linesmen---Brandon Gawryletz and Carl Sasyn.