Saturday, Dec. 9 | 12:00 p.m. | Quicken Loans Arena | CW50 | Facebook

FIRST TIME, LAST TIME

On Friday night, the Chicago Wolves and Cleveland Monsters faced each other for the first time during the 2017-18 campaign. In an eight-game season series — scaled back from 12 last year — Cleveland now holds a 1-0-0-0 lead and is track to be a thorn in Chicago’s side again. Over the last five seasons, the Monsters own a commanding 22-9-0-2 record against the Wolves. Last season, they won the series with a 8-4-0-0 record, but the Wolves were still able to finish as the top dog in the Central Division with 101 points. Ironically, Cleveland’s playoff hopes hinged on a game between the Wolves and Charlotte Checkers. The Checkers were able to earn the point they needed — by forcing the game to overtime — and boot the Monsters for the final Central Division playoff spot.

OLD FRIENDS

Three former Chicago Wolves players took the ice in yesterday’s 3-2 loss to the Cleveland Monsters. One of those players — Jordan Schroeder — collected two assists while defenseman Andre Benoit — an American Hockey League All-Star during his time in Chicago — earned a +1 plus/minus rating. The third former Wolves player, Terry Broadhurst, was held scoreless and finished the game with a -1 plus/minus rating. However, Broadhust’s younger brother, Alex, netted a goal.

Ignite a Spark

Last season, the Chicago Wolves’ top five scorers against the Cleveland Monsters combined for 35 points through 12 games — that’s an average of almost three points per game. The only returning player from last season’s top five is center Wade Megan. Megan skated in all 12 games of the season series and earned a point in half of them. His six points included four goals and a short-handed tally. On Nov. 26 of this season, the 27-year-old recorded his first two goals — his first multi-point effort — against Iowa that gave the Wolves hope he would repeat last year’s post-Thanksgiving goalscoring dominance. However, Megan has been held scoreless in the four games since his two-goal performance.

Another offensive weapon capable of lighting the match for Chicago is center Brandon Pirri. With 16 points (6G, 10A) in 17 games, Pirri is the Wolves’ second-best scorer behind Teemu Pulkkinen (8-14–22). Pirri once led the American Hockey League in points with 75 points (22G, 53A) through 76 games in 2012-13. Pirri has been held scoreless in his last three games dating back to Dec. 1 against his former team, the Rockford IceHogs, when he collected a goal and an assist.

By the Numbers:

  • 2: On Friday against the Cleveland Monsters, Griffin Reinhart collected his first two goals of the 2017-18 campaign. The contest was just the second two-tally effort of the 6-foot-4, 212-pound defenseman’s professional career. He last netted two goals on Jan. 27, 2017, for the Bakersfield Condors against the Texas Stars. The Chicago Wolves will face the Condors for the first time in January when the team road-trips to California for the first time in nearly two decades.
  • 3: Recently signed defenseman Kevin Lough  earned his third American Hockey League point — an assist — in Friday night’s 3-2 loss to the Cleveland Monsters. The 25-year-old defenseman signed a professional tryout contract with the Wolves on Tuesday. Prior to joining the Wolves, Lough had appeared in just one AHL game — and that came during the 2016-17 season with the Binghamton Senators. The Kanata, Ontario, native earned his first two career AHL points in his first game with the Wolves on Wednesday against the San Diego Gulls.
  • 5: Friday’s game against the Cleveland Monsters marked Scooter Vaughan’s fifth game of the year. A hallmark of Vaughan’s seven-year professional career has been his versatility — including his ability to play both forward and defense. Last year, Vaughan began the season as a defenseman and eventually jumped to forward. This year, the 28-year-old began the year on the offense section of the roster and has yet to see any blue-line minutes.
  • 8: The Wolves have outshot each of their last eight opponents. Last year, the team’s longest such streak was four games — March 22-31, 2017 — that began with a 46-34 shot differential against the Cleveland Monsters at Quicken Loans Arena. Coincidentally, the Wolves outshot the Monsters by 12 in Friday night’s 3-2 loss as well.
  • 22: Friday night, forward Teemu Pulkkinen earned his first point in three games to bring his season point total to 22. The 25-year-old Finn is the Chicago Wolves’ leading scorer with eight goals and 14 assists. Known for his goal-scoring prowess — he led the American Hockey League with 34 goals in the 2014-15 season — Pulkkinen has just one-multi-goal performance this season. Pulkkinen kicked off the season by collecting nine points in three games. Since then, he has only registered two other multi-point efforts.
  • 250: Forward T.J Tynan’s next game will mark his 250th career American Hockey League contest. The 25-year-old Orland Park, Illinois, native skated for the Lake Erie-turned-Cleveland Monsters for 148 of those games. He also skated in 17 Calder Cup Playoff games with the Monsters and helped the club win its first Calder Cup in 2016. Through three full seasons in the AHL, Tynan has been a consistent 40-point scorer. With 33 goals and 114 assists, its clear Tynan is a team player and his bread-and-butter is making plays for his teammates to score.

Game Review

Friday, Dec. 6 (at) Cleveland 3, Chicago 2

  • The Wolves’ rally fell short against the Monsters at Quicken Loans Arena.
  • Defenseman Griffin Reinhart netted his first two goals of the season in the loss.
  • Goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo posted 23 saves.

Wednesday, Dec. 6 (at) Chicago 3, San Diego 1

  • The Wolves netted three consecutive goals for their first victory against San Diego since 1995.
  • Forwards Ivan Barbashev, Beau Bennett and Tyler Wong all scored in the win.
  • Rookie defenseman Kevin Lough earned his first two AHL points in his Wolves debut.
  • Goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo made 15 saves for his fourth victory of the season.