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Slumping Wolves lose fourth straight

The Wolves have dropped six of seven, but Brandon Pirri is on waivers and could be back soon to help a struggling offense.

The Wolves’ Patrick Brown battles with Iowa’s Matt Bartkowski during Saturday’s game.
Dale Woltman/Chicago Wolves

There’s a lot the Wolves can learn from the adversity they’re experiencing. Veteran forward Patrick Brown succinctly and accurately boiled down the primary lesson before their 3-0 loss to the Iowa Wild on Saturday night at Allstate Arena.

“It’s really hard to win hockey games,” Brown said. “It’s fun, but it’s a really hard thing to do. If it was easy, everyone would win. We have to figure out how to mentally bear down for 60 minutes.”

The Wolves haven’t been able to do that consistently, losing their last four and six of seven entering Sunday’s rematch at Iowa.

At times they’ve started strong but faltered late. Sometimes they’ve fallen behind early and been forced to rally. Missing their top three scorers from last season, the Wolves have averaged 2.29 goals.

Call-ups and injuries have taken a toll. On Saturday the Wolves played the last 45 minutes down two men. First, Zach Whitecloud left after a hit from the Wild’s Mike Liambas. Tyrell Goulbourne then didn’t come back after a fight with Liambas just as Liambas left the penalty box.

“When one of your teammates gets a cheap shot you want to respond,” Wolves coach Rocky Thompson said. “I thought it was the right thing to do.”

Clearly, the Wolves could use help, and assistance might be coming from a well-known name.

Former Wolves and Blackhawks forward Brandon Pirri was placed on waivers by the Golden Knights. If Pirri clears, and the Golden Knights choose to send him down, Thompson and his team would get a player who had 42 points in 29 games for the Wolves last season.

“If that were to happen, that’s a huge addition,” Thompson said. “He’s been our best player off and on for parts of two years. At this level, he’s an MVP and so obviously you add a player like that it would be a big difference to the team.”

Pirri certainly would add another dimension to their lineup. He immediately would become their most offensively skilled forward, adding experience and boosting the power play.

But he wouldn’t magically fix everything for a team that has gone through plenty of learning experiences recently.

“We’re just trying to stay focused for a full 60 minutes,” Brown said. “We like our group in there. We know we’re young, but every team is young in the American league. We’ve just got to figure out a way to win.”

Thompson said the Wolves aren’t happy with the recent stretch, but the morale is OK.

“We’ve been positive in practice and upbeat,” Thompson said. “We know what the answers are, and that’s important. We’re practicing hard to get ahead of the curve with our team.”

Getting through the adversity, whenever it comes, can help a team. This time around, Thompson is confident the Wolves will push through and has seen progress from his team.

“We’re on the right track,” Thompson said. “Even though we’ve struggled to a degree. We’ve faced adversity early. We’ve had a lot of setbacks: guys called up, injuries to key players. Other guys have gotten opportunities. Those are things we’re working our way through.”