Welcome to Wolves Roundup, a weekly report of highlights, notes and transactions from the Chicago Wolves’ previous week of competition during the 2016-17 season.
Preseason hockey has come and gone. The Wolves finished training camp with a 2-1 record beating the Grand Rapid Griffins (5-1) and Milwaukee Admirals (4-1) in preseason play. Now we are four days out from the regular-season opener – and that bright light at the end of the tunnel is getting closer and closer.
The Kids Are Alright
Rookie forwards Samuel Blais, Conner Bleackley andMackenzie MacEachern brought energy to the exhibition games and, boy, was it fun to watch! The kids have chemistry and the jump they bring gives even more life to a team aiming to be a serious playoff contender come spring.
Blais accounted for two of the four goals in Saturday’s preseason win over Milwaukee. He’s a fast and skilled player who’s playing his first season in America. The 20-year-old is beginning to establish himself as a trusted depth player and is certainly a guy to keep your eyes on.
Big-body winger MacEachern is also a guy to keep on your radar, if you can keep up. The Michigan State alum’s explosive speed helps him create scoring chances. Plus, if his short-handed goal against Milwaukee on Saturday night is a foreshadowing of the season, he’s going to be a threat on the penalty kill.
Though his name wasn’t on the scoresheet when the clock hit zero, Bleackley earned a +2 rating in Saturday’s game as he was on the ice for both of Blais’ goals. He has the makings of a power forward: strong skater, soft hands and physical size.
Bleackley, a first-round pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, is not afraid to go into the hard areas of the ice and has a knack for finding lanes and soft spots to score. All the kids have something to prove during the 2016-17 season, but Bleackley, especially, seeks to make an impact and earn minutes.
With players like these, it is hard not to be excited about the upcoming season!
Speaking of hockey season…
What’s better than a hockey home opener? That’s easy: a hockey home opener that’s preceded by a tailgate party! That’s right, the Wolves are transforming Saturday’s home opener into a celebration that begins at 3 p.m. in Allstate Arena’s West Lot with a free three-hour party featuring food, Pepsi products, games, face-painting, sign-making and live music from the Billy Ray Valentine Band.
The first 5,000 fans into the arena on Saturday receive a Static Cling schedule, courtesy of Savers Thrift Superstore. The home opener also serves as the first Adopt-A-Dog Night of the season. Visit the South Lobby as the Wolves and Chicago’s Animal Care and Chicago resume their 15-year partnership that showcases friendly dogs looking for a forever home. More than 1,275 dogs have been adopted on these special Saturday nights over the years.
So come out for the home opener, watch some top-quality hockey and maybe adopt a dog!