A Sterling performance pushes Wolves past Rivermen

Second-year pro Brett Sterling (pictured) netted a hat trick, including the game-winner at 4:31 of overtime, as Chicago edged Peoria by a 4-3 final on Thursday at the Allstate Arena. In 12 games since being reassigned to the Wolves by Atlanta on Nov. 5, the 2006-07 AHL rookie of the year has taken over the team lead with 11 goals and added seven assists for 18 points, and he has at least one point in nine of the 12 contests.

He got the scoring started on Wednesday at 6:14 of the first period, with assists going to Jason Krog and Jesse Schultz.

Sterling (6-5-11), Krog (3-5-8), and Schultz (1-6-7) all extended their scoring streaks to five games.

The Rivermen responded in quick fashion, as they took the ensuing face-off and scored just eight seconds later off the stick of Yan Stastny, his third of the season.

Peoria then took a 2-1 lead on Jean-Guy Trudel’s fifth goal of the season, a power play tally at 13:57 of the second period.

Sterling knotted the game at 2-2 with an unassisted goal at 4:05 of the third, and Steve Martins gave Chicago the lead with an unassisted tally of his own at 8:03.

Peoria’s Julian Talbot lit the lamp with just 20 seconds remaining in regulation, sending the contest to overtime, where Sterling ended it just 29 seconds before it would have extended to a shootout.

Wolves goaltender Kari Lehtonen improved to 2-0-0 on a conditioning stint with 30 saves on 33 shots.

The hat trick was Sterling’s first of the season and the fourth of his pro career. Coincidentally, his most recent one was also at home in a 4-3 win over the Rivermen, coming last March 14.