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Pavelec powers Wolves
By Scott J. Powers | Daily Herald Correspondent
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Published: 5/14/2008 12:06 AM

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If Chicago Wolves goaltender Ondrej Pavelec's goalie mask could speak, it might have, it would have yelled, "Holy cow!" after his performance in Game 7 of the West Division Final on Tuesday.

Pavelec, who has Harry Caray painted on his mask, kept the Wolves' season alive as he stopped 38 shots -- many of the spectacular variety -- in a 4-1 win over the Rockford IceHogs in the decisive game of the series before a crowd of 5,128 at the Allstate Arena.

The Wolves and their mustaches will now move on to the Western Conference Finals where they will meet the Toronto Marlies. The first two games will be at the Allstate Arena on Friday and Sunday.

From the start, Pavelec faced a bevy of shots from the IceHogs. Using everything from his glove to his unprotected body -- Pavelec took a slap shot off his collar bone -- he held off all 15 of Rockford's first-period shots.

After Rockford took it easy in the second period, it fired on him with full force again throughout the final 20 minutes. Kris Versteeg found the net at 13:22, but the rest of Rockford's 17 third-period shots were held off by the 20-year-old.

"Big games don't bother him," said assistant coach Wendell Young, who knows something about winning big games as he led the Wolves to two Turner Cup titles as a goalie. "Some players welter under that. He was unbelievable."

Pavelec wasn't quite as impressed with himself.

"I hope I can play better," he said. "One goal, I want to have a shutout. But I play for a win. It doesn't matter how you play if you win."

The Wolves' power play for the second consecutive game was nearly unstoppable.

The IceHogs were the first to blink Tuesday as they were whistled for the game's first penalty at 17:20 when Jim Fahey connected his stick with Jason Krog's chin.

Coming off four power-play goals in Game 6, the Wolves' man-advantage stayed hot.

Brian Fahey's slapshot from the point flew wide left of the net, ricocheted off the boards and bounced to Jesse Schultz on the other side. Schultz quickly slapped the puck into the net before IceHogs goalie Corey Crawford could react.

The Wolves' power play did it again to the IceHogs when given a second opportunity. Patiently working the puck around, Darren Haydar set up Krog for a one-timer from the left circle at 7:33 of the second period.

Bryan Little scored with the teams at even strength in the third period, and Colin Stuart finished off the scoring with an empty-netter at 18:36.

But in the end, it was all about the goalie.

"(The IceHogs) played very hard at the end; they had us reeling because they came so hard," Wolves coach John Anderson said. "But we survived. Our goaltender played great. It was a great series."