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DEJA VU

Death, taxes and 4-3 scores — these seem to be givens in the lives of the Chicago Wolves and Rockford IceHogs when they meet in Illinois Lottery Cup action. All three previous games in this season’s series have ended with a 4-3 final score. Rockford has come out on the preferred end of two of those games while the Wolves have won just once. However, two of the contests — Nov. 19 and Dec. 1 — needed extra time to be decided. The Wolves rallied in the third period for the 4-3 victory on Nov. 25; the Wolves will look to repeat that fortune by keeping the game to 60 minutes.

Get Him on the Board

The Chicago Wolves are 2-0-0-0 when forward Tobias Lindberg gets his name on the scoresheet. Not only do the Wolves boast a winning record, they give up zero goals to their opponents. The 22-year old recorded his first point of the season in Chicago’s 2-0 shutout against the Grand Rapids Griffins on Nov. 3. On Saturday, the Sweden native’s first goal of the year — scored at 7:35 of the third period — would go on to stand as the game-winner when the Wolves shut out the Cleveland Monsters.

May the Odd Be Ever in Your Favor

On Sunday, goaltender Max Lagace returned to the Chicago Wolves after a 14-game stint with the Vegas Golden Knights. During his time in the National Hockey League, the 24-year-old made his NHL debut on Nov. 30 against the New York Islanders and strung together a 6-6-1 record. Prior to Lagace’s NHL tenure — brought on by the onslaught of injuries to Knights netminders — he appeared in four games for the Wolves and collected a 2-2-0 record. Lagace is one of the original two goalies — the other being Oscar Dansk — who began the season with Chicago. Since Lagace’s departure, the Wolves have used three other goaltenders: Kasimir Kaskisuo, Michael Leighton and C.J. Motte.

HINOSTROZA HYPE

Rockford IceHogs center Vinnie Hinostroza has been a burr under the Chicago Wolves’ saddle through the first three games of the Illinois Lottery Cup series. In the clubs’ first meeting on Nov. 19, Hinostroza netted a highlight-reel goal and then was the first of two IceHogs players to score in the shootout to secure victory for Rockford. On Dec. 1, the 23-year-old delivered the game-winning goal just 37 seconds into the 3-on-3 overtime. In Chicago’s lone win over the IceHogs on Nov. 25, Hinostroza was held off the scoreboard but did get three shots on net. Fortunately for the Wolves, the Bartlett, Illinois, native was recalled from loan by the IceHogs’ parent club, the Chicago Blackhawks, on Dec. 8.

By the Numbers:

  • 1: The Chicago Wolves have had just one game decided in a shootout this season. That contest was Nov. 19 against the Rockford IceHogs. The result was a 4-3 win in the IceHogs’ favor. Center Vinnie Hinostroza was the “winning” shootout scorer as neither Teemu Pulkkinen nor former IceHog Brandon Pirri could solve Jeff Glass. David Kampf also scored in the shootout for Rockford.
  • 5: Captain Paul Thompson is the Chicago Wolves’ leading scorer with four points in the Illinois Lottery Cup series between the Wolves and Rockford IceHogs. So far, Thompson has amassed a goal and three assists against the Wolves’ in-state rival. Rockford’s leading scorer Tomas Jurco also owns four points — two goals and two assists.
  • 7: With a 3-0 shutout victory on Saturday, the Chicago Wolves ended a road losing streak at seven contests. Tonight, the Wolves are on the prowl to secure back-to-back victories for the time since Nov. 3 when they shut out the Grand Rapids 2-0 at Van Andel Arena. The game prior on Oct. 28, the Wolves edged the Milwaukee Admirals 2-1.
  • 8: In the team’s last five games, the Chicago Wolves power play is clicking along at just an 8.3 percent conversion rate. Chicago has scored just twice in the last five contests dating back to Dec. 1 against the Rockford IceHogs. The Wolves managed to net a power-play tally in that contest and went on to register another on Dec. 2 against the Grand Rapids Griffins. However, in the club’s last three games, they’ve been held scoreless in 14 opportunities.
  • 22: Teemu Pulkkinen and Vinnie Hinostroza have one thing in common: Both lead their respective teams with 22 points. With the Chicago Wolves, Pulkkinen put up the majority of his points early in the season — he opened with nine points (2G, 7A) in three contests — while Hinostroza’s points were more spread out among his 23 games. The Illinois native registered four points (G, 3A) in his last two games, which probably aided in the Chicago Blackhawks’ decision to recall him from loan.
  • 62: Center Conner Bleackley finished last week with nearly a 62 percent success rate in the faceoff circle. The 21-year-old joined the Chicago Wolves roster on Wednesday for the first time since Oct. 10. Bleackley spent his time away from the Wolves with the Tulsa Oilers (ECHL) and he skated in 22 games for the club. In that span, the Alberta native collected 18 points (10G, 8A) and led the team in scoring prior to his reassignment to the Wolves on Dec. 6; he made his 2017-18 Wolves debut the same day.

Game Rewind

Saturday, Dec. 9 Chicago 3, (at) Cleveland 0

  • Chicago bested Cleveland in the second of back-to-back games at Quicken Loans Arena.
  • Goaltender Michael Leighton made 24 saves for his AHL milestone 50th career shutout and his first win in a Wolves sweater.
  • Forward Tobias Lindberg netted his first goal of the season while center Wade Megan and captain Paul Thompson also tallied.

Friday, Dec. 8 (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.