Saturday, Dec. 30 | 7:00 p.m. | Allstate Arena | Facebook | CW50

ILLINOIS LOTTERY CUP

In its seventh edition, the Illinois Lottery Cup is already looking to come down to the wire for a victor. With three victories – all in overtime – the Rockford IceHogs own a one-win advantage for what could be their fourth Lottery Cup since the competition’s inception in 2011.

The IceHogs also own a slight advantage in the all-time series with the Wolves since the inaugural Lottery Cup six years ago. Rockford has one more win than Chicago with 39 but Chicago holds the goal-scoring advantage, 225-212.

Last season, the Wolves clinched the Lottery Cup — the team’s second — with a thrilling overtime victory in Rockford on Feb. 7. Defenseman Petteri Lindbohm was the hero after zero when he crashed the net and scored just 1:19 into the extra frame for the 2-1 Wolves win.

Additionally, the Chicago-Rockford series has been close since the teams began competing in 2007-08. At the beginning of the 2017-18 campaign, the teams were deadlocked with 56 wins each. Now, the Wolves have a 58-46- 6-7 record while the IceHogs have a 59-46-8-4 record.

SIGNIFICANT SEVEN

As noted in the last two game broadcasts (Dec. 27 & 29), seven individuals have been with the Chicago Wolves organization since the team’s inception in 1994: Owner, chairman of the board and governor Dov Levin; vice chairman Buddy Meyers; senior executive vice president — and noted national anthem singer — Wayne Messmer; senior advisor and director of hockey operations Gene Ubriaco; general manager Wendell Young; assistant general manager Bill Bentley and head equipment manager Craig Kogut.

On Jan. 25, 1994, Levin, Meyers and Grand Mulvey were granted franchise rights to operate a team in Chicago named the Chicago Wolves. Messmer was selected as senior vice president. The franchise was officially announced three days later on Jan. 28.

Ubriaco began his career with the Wolves as the team’s first head coach. Behind the bench, he guided the expansion team to a 34-33-14 record and a berth in the 1995 Turner Cup Playoffs. Ubriaco compiled a 61-61- 20 record with Chicago during a three-year span, which included a two-game interim stint during the 1996-97 season.

Young has been a member of the Wolves organization in virtually every capacity — including player, coach and executive — since the team’s inaugural campaign in 1994. He served as assistant coach and executive director of team relations for six seasons before transitioning into the general general in August 2009. Under Young’s GM tenure (as of the 2016-17 season), the Wolves have earned a .593 win percentage and captured four division titles (2010, 2012, 2014, 2017).

Bentley has worked in several capacities for the Wolves but has nine season under his belt as assistant general manager. He has been instrumental to the hockey operations department for more than 20 years, which includes all four seasons that ended with championships (1998, 2000, 2002, 2008).

Kogut has been the head equipment manager for 23 of Chicago’s 24 seasons and has worked more than 1,800 games for the Wolves. He served as assistant equipment manager in the inaugural 1994-95 season.

By the Numbers:

  • .594: Along with their 1,000 regular-season wins, the Chicago Wolves own a .594 win percentage and 1,000-650-24-75-112 (W-L-T-OTL-SOL) record. The percentage is the best among teams that have competed since 1994, the Wolves’ inaugural season. The Hershey Bears are the next-best team with a 959-643-90-85-73 record and .585 win percentage. One of the only teams on the list the Wolves have consistently faced since 1994 is Friday night’s opponent: the Milwaukee Admirals. The Admirals own a 965-655-31-84-125 mark and are just two percentage points behind Hershey at .583.
  • .875: Forward Tobias Lindberg collected his ninth point of the season in Friday’s loss to the Milwaukee Admirals. The 22-year-old Swede has scored in eight games this season and the Wolves own a 6-0-1-1 record when his name appears on the scoresheet. The only other blemish on Lindberg’s record came Dec. 22 when the Wolves’ longest win streak of the season came to a close at the hands of the Rockford IceHogs. 
  • 2: Friday marked just the second time this season the Chicago Wolves have gone to a shootout. In three rounds, Brandon Pirri was the only Wolves forward to score so the Wolves fell 3-2 to the Milwaukee Admirals. The loss brought Chicago’s season shootout record to 0-2. Last season, the Wolves finished with a 2-5 record in the shootout as Chicago scored just nine goals on 26 attempts for a .346 shooting percentage. This season, the Wolves have tallied once in five attempts.
  • 10: Saturday night, the Chicago Wolves will look to push their point streak to 10 games. With last night’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Milwaukee Admirals, the Wolves earned their 16th point in nine games. This streak includes a six-game winning streak from Dec. 9-21 with all six victories coming against Central Division opponents. In their last nine games, Chicago owns a 7-0-1-1 record.
  • 14: No. 14 Beau Bennett earned an assist in his first game since Dec. 17. His helper in Friday’s 3-2 shootout loss pushed his point streak to four games that features six points (G, 5A). That stint includes a three-assist performance on Dec. 15 against the Grand Rapids Griffins. This season, Bennett has skated in 22 games for the Chicago Wolves and totaled four goals and 15 assists for 19 points. The California native is fifth in team scoring and on the cusp of 20 points, which would be just the second time he has reached the mark in his professional career. Bennett last scored more than 20 points (7-21–28) in his rookie season, 2012-13, with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Last season, Bennett skated for the NHL’s New Jersey Devils and collected 19 points (8G, 11A), his second-best pro season.
  • 20: The Chicago Wolves roster now includes four players who have reached the 20-point threshold for the season. Brandon Pirri (9-16–25) and Teemu Pulkkinen (11-14–25) were the first two over the mark. Pulkkinen has led the team in scoring all season and averaged three points per game in the season’s opening three contests. Now, the 25-year-old Finn has the same amount of points but fewer goals, earning Pirri the tie-breaker and the official No. 1 spot on the team scoring list. Pirri has been more consistent than Pulkkinen and has been hovering around the point-per-game mark all season. After posting a goal Friday night he owns 25 points (11G, 14A) in 26 games for a 0.96 point-per-game average. Linemates T.J. Tynan and Paul Thompson both own 20 points. Tynan earned his 20th point, an assist, Dec. 27 while Thompson earned his 20th, also an assist, Friday night.
  • 60: All three losses the Chicago Wolves have suffered against the Rockford IceHogs have come when the game exceed 60 minutes. In the Wolves’ first victory of the season series on Nov. 25, Brett Sterling’s 239th career AHL goal at the 6:20 mark of the third period would stand as the game-winner. On Dec. 12, Paul Thompson was captain clutch as he scored with just 1.8 seconds on the clock to secure the win. In the losses, Vinnie Hinostroza twice downed Chicago — once in the shootout (Nov. 19) and once in overtime (Dec. 1). On Dec. 22, Darren Raddysh was the hero after zero.

Game Rewind

Friday, Dec, 29 (at) Milwaukee 3, Chicago 2 (SO)

  • The Wolves fell in a shootout to Milwaukee but earned their 16th point in nine games.
  • Center Brandon Pirri tallied in regulation and the shootout while Tobias Lindberg scored in the first period for the Wolves.
  • Two Admirals skaters scored in the shootout but only Pirri could solve Anders Lindback.
  • Wolves netminder Max Lagace made 20 saves in the loss.

Wednesday, Dec. 27 Chicago 3, (at) Milwaukee 2 (OT) 

  • The Wolves pushed their point streak to eight games with 15 points against the Admirals.
  • Defenseman Jake Walman sealed the victory 1:05 in overtime with a one-time blast.
  • Forwards Tomas Hyka and Brandon Pirri earned two points (G, A) apiece.
  • Goaltender Max Lagace made 26 saves in the win.