ABBOTSFORD, B.C. - Whether it was the eyes of management peering down on the team or the cheering of loyal fans in a foreign arena, the Chicago Wolves were motivated ? and it showed.
Steve Reinprecht scored twice for the second straight game and the Wolves completed a two-game road sweep of the Abbotsford Heat with a 5-0 triumph Wednesday in American Hockey League action.
Bill Sweatt and Jordan Schroeder each had a goal and an assist. Stefan Schneider also scored, while Anton Rodin added two assists for Chicago (23-16-4). The Wolves have won back-to-back games after losing four straight.
Chicago leads the season series with Abbotsford 3-1-1. The Wolves became the Vancouver Canucks' top affiliate this year, and Abbotsford's vicinity to Vancouver makes it a natural rivalry.
"We definitely had some fans on our side," said Schroeder. "It's always fun to come here and play."
Eddie Lack made 29 saves to earn his second shutout of the season.
"I felt motivated," said Lack, when asked if having Canucks management in attendance added any extra pressure. "I was really focused before the game and wanted to get out and have fun."
Of his 29 saves, 14 were in the third period when the game was all but decided.
"The guys played great in front of me," Lack said. "Just an easy shutout."
The other side of the rivalry is the hometown Heat, who put forth a poor effort in front of larger than usual crowds.
"These were games we were looking forward to for a while (because) we knew we'd get some good crowds," said Heat alternate captain Ben Walter. "We wanted to show them what kind of team we are and what kind of hockey we play here. It's definitely disappointing. Last night I was happy with how we battled back and made it close at the end there, but tonight is just disappointing."
Danny Taylor allowed two goals on five shots before getting hooked early in the first period. Joni Ortio mopped up, making 20 saves in just over 53 minutes of play.
"It was the same thing that happened last night," Walter said. "We were expecting them to come out hard ??? and we just couldn't handle it. To their credit they played well early on but we need to push back a lot better than we did."
Chicago quieted the Abbotsford fans early as Mancari threw the puck towards the net from the boards, and it was redirected by Reinprecht.
Reinprecht then struck short handed during the first penalty of the game to put Chicago up 2-0. Reinprecht broke up a pass at his own blue-line and went in alone on Taylor. The Heat netminder made the first save but Reinprecht lifted the rebound over Taylor's right pad.
Reinprecht now has eight goals, doubling his season total after the two-game series in Abbotsford.
"That doesn't bode very well for what I had going," said Reinprecht with a grin. "It was nice to contribute. I had a lot of chances. Mancari hit me with a lot of great passes."
The Chicago offensive onslaught continued after Ortio replaced Taylor. Schroeder one-timed a pass from Sweatt on a two-on-one that found the top corner of the net at 12:57.
"Billy (Sweatt) and Hays (Darren Haydar) made a tremendous play on my goal," Schroeder said. "I couldn't thank him enough on the bench for that pass."
Sweatt increased the lead to four when he scored on an in-close breakaway on the power play at 8:14 of the second period, giving him 10 goals on the season.
The Wolves scored one more at the tail end of a penalty when Schneider finished off a two-on-one with Mike Duco at 13:00, his third of the year.
Chicago has one more game left before the all-star break, a visit to the Milwaukee Admirals Friday.
Abbotsford does not play until Feb. 2, when they begin a mini three-game road trip.
"The break is coming at a good time for us," Walter said. "It's good for us to just sit back a little bit and reflect on what we need to do, how we need to play, and maybe get some of that confidence back."