Macek's hat trick propels Wolves in home opener
Brooks Macek walked out of the Chicago Wolves’ locker room in with a black leather vest over his undergarments. He turned around, modeling the vest and revealing a rendition of the Wolves’ logo emblazoned on the back.
“I don’t wear this all the time,” Macek said.
Like many NHL teams, the Wolves have their own token item awarded to the team’s standout player after each win. Macek’s hat trick in the Wolves’ 5-1 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins Saturday earned him a moment with the team’s new piece of equipment.
A quick power-play goal by the Griffins opened the scoring three minutes after the initial puck drop. Macek evened the score nine minutes later. He scrambled up ice towards a loose puck and found himself one-on-one with the Griffin’s goalie Patrik Rybar. A quick hesitation pushed Macek onto his backhand as he lifted the puck over the sprawling blocker of Rybar.
“It’s just situational,” Macek said. “If the play is there and you’re moving that way, the backhand is always a good shot, it’s tough for the goalies to read.”
Macek’s first goal on North American ice after being the top goal scorer in Germany’s Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DHL) swung momentum towards the Wolves. Zac Leslie and Brandon Pirri (powerplay) each netted goals less than five minutes after Macek’s to end the period with a two-goal lead.
“The first 15 minutes of the second period was not good for us,” said Head Coach Rocky Thompson. “Our power play didn’t really get us momentum, we kind of got outworked on it a little bit.”
The Wolves couldn’t convert on either of their two power-play chances in the second. Thompson mentioned how they were playing into the Griffins hands, allowing shots to add up in the defensive end and letting a 3-1 lead to feel smaller than it was.
“There was a TV timeout and we had only two shots up until the [five-minute mark],” Thompson said. “We just talked… enough is enough, we had to go to work in the offensive zone, we had to play simpler.”
Macek headed Thompson’s words, ricocheting a puck off the inside of Rybar’s pad and into the net to push the game to 4-1. Less than three minutes later, Macek went to his backhand again, beating the Griffin’s goalie to his blocker side after a nifty pass from left-winger Daniel Carr.
A four-goal lead heading into the third period allowed some pressure to come off the Wolves in their home opener at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. Thompson wasn’t too keen on his team’s play in the final period, but a scoreless third closed out the game.
“You start playing the wrong way because you think, ‘Well it’s not necessarily going to come back to bite us because we have the lead,’” Thompson said. “You can’t think that way. We were just trying to stay ahead of it on the bench, encouraging them to do the right things. And they did to a degree.”
The Wolves play the Milwaukee Admirals at 3:00 p.m. central time Sunday. Both teams are undefeated with 3-0-0 records and an identical 13 goals scored on the young season.
“You got to take it day by day," Macek said. “You can get a little high off the game [today], congratulating each other, but you can’t let that drift into tomorrow. Tomorrow is a new game, new team coming in and we’ll be ready.”