Wolves take Game 2 on last-second goal

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Rookie center Jack Drury celebrates after scoring 17 seconds into the Wolves' 3-2 victory over the Stockton Heat in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals Monday at Allstate Arena.

    Rookie center Jack Drury celebrates after scoring 17 seconds into the Wolves' 3-2 victory over the Stockton Heat in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals Monday at Allstate Arena. Ross Dettman/Chicago Wolves

 
 
Updated 6/6/2022 10:47 PM

Show me the money!

It's one of the most famous lines in cinematic history -- Tom Cruise screaming it over and over to Cuba Gooding Jr. in Jerry Maguire -- and a quarter century later it remains a mantra for many.

 

The LIV Golf Invitational is a fantastic example. Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia and other well-known players will take part in that tour's extremely controversial opening event beginning Thursday. Mickelson and Johnson reportedly inked multiyear deals and are being paid nine figures -- that's $100 million or more for the mathematically challenged.

On the other side of the spectrum are pro hockey players taking part in the AHL's Calder Cup playoffs. The extra money they make for possibly two extra months of work? Not much.

Sure, they're showcasing their skills for general managers and scouts. But they're also risking injury in some high-tempo -- and often nasty -- affairs.

But that's OK. It's all for the love of the game.

"When you get down to these final four teams no one cares about the money," said the Wolves' Stefan Noesen before his team's dramatic 3-2 victory over the Stockton Heat in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals at Allstate Arena on Monday. "It's more about the drive to win, to win a championship, to be together, to have your group do something so special."

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It's been a special season for the Wolves -- who had the AHL's best winning percentage (.724) -- and it continued with a special win.

Forward Josh Leivo snapped a 2-2 tie with just 17.2 seconds remaining to put the Wolves up 2-0 in the best-of-seven series with Game 3 in Stockton, California on Wednesday.

Leivo scored the game-winner after snaring the puck at center ice, racing in on a breakaway and beating goalie Dustin Wolf on a wrist shot from 30 feet out. Leivo, who has 9 goals in nine postseason games, let out a triumphant roar and was engulfed by teammates.

"Coming down on that one I looked up and I kind of saw a hole," said Leivo, who failed on a breakaway chance in the second period. "I was gonna think deke, but once I saw that I just released it and fortunate to go in.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"It was a big relief because that was a hard-fought effort from everyone on our team."

Jack Drury and Noel Gunler also scored for the Wolves.

The lively crowd of 5,821 saw plenty of crunching hits, chippy-ness and a pair of highlight-reel goals by Stockton. They also saw Wolves defenseman Jalen Chatfield stop a sure second-period goal by blocking a point-blank shot in the crease with netminder Pyotr Kochetkov (33 saves) out of position. Leivo immediately came over and gave Chatfield a big hug.

Think these guys don't care?

"It's the trophy," Leivo said of why they try so hard. "I don't think anyone plays for money in playoffs -- in any league. The motivation is the trophy and if you win there's always success after that."

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