It wasn't Ty Rattie's ability to redirect a shot from the top of the crease that was the most impressive part of a recent Chicago Wolves goal. No, the most impressive part was that Rattie even got in position for the deflection in the first place.
The goal came with less than seven minutes remaining in regulation in the Wolves 5-4 shootout victory over the Oklahoma City Barons. Just seconds before scoring the goal that tied it 3-3, Rattie was locked along the half-wall in a battle with Barons center C.J. Stretch.
Rattie muscled his way off the boards and kept Stretch to his side as he skated toward the net. He arrived in time to redirect Brent Regner's high shot between the legs of goalie Ty Rimmer.
"I was kind of battling with Stretch there a little bit," Rattie said. "He’s a smart player, no fighting or anything, I just beat him to the net, saw the puck in the air and tried to flick it or swing at it. It just kind of landed on my stick and went in somehow."
Rattie followed that up by scoring a second game-tying goal in the same period. He shoved in a loose puck from in the crease with less than 18 seconds left in the third. After a scoreless overtime, Rattie opened the shootout with another goal as the Wolves scored three times while goalie Matt Climie stopped all three shooters he faced.
"He’s a goal scorer, so it’s not like he’s unfamiliar around the net," Wolves coach John Anderson said after the game. "I think he’s streaky and hopefully he stays on a streak for us. We need somebody to get hot for us. We really haven’t anybody throughout the year be hot for us. Hopefully that’s a good sign for us."
The streak is still going for Rattie as the Wolves (12-10-0-2) begin their weekend Texas two-step tonight against the Texas Stars. Rattie provided an insurance goal late in Chicago's 4-2 victory at Grand Rapids on Wednesday, giving him a team-leading nine goals this season.
Six of his 14 points on the season have come in the past six games.
"Confidence is a huge part of the game, and you’ve got to feel like you belong here and you gotta feel like you can create stuff," Rattie said Sunday after recording the second two-goal game of his rookie season. "I gotta keep my confidence."
Defenseman Cade Fairchild has also been rolling for the Wolves. He brings a five-game assist streak into tonight's action. After recording only two assists in his first seven games since returning from ACL surgery, Fairchild has picked up eight assists during his current streak, which began Nov. 29.
If the Wolves expect to add to their modest two-game winning streak, they'll need more players to get hot like Rattie and Fairchild. The team still hovers near the .500 mark and sits in fourth place in the Midwest Division one-third of the way through the season.
"I don’t know if it’s something missing as much as just getting everybody’s 'A' game," Fairchild said Sunday. "Everybody’s gotta be on top of their game for a team to be full-clicking on all cylinders. That comes down to every guy digging in a little bit more and wanting it just a little bit more just so we can come through as a team with more wins."
The Wolves are hopeful those wins start piling up sooner rather than later.