Tuesday, Nov. 22 | 6 p.m. | Bojangles’ Coliseum
New Kid on the Block
On Saturday, Nov. 19, the St. Louis Blues loaned defenseman Reid McNeill to the Wolves after acquiring him from the Pittsburgh Penguins in a National Hockey League trade that sent Wolves right wing Danny Kristo to Pittsburgh. McNeill, who made his American Hockey League debut in 2012-13, posted 4 goals, 21 assists and 319 penalty minutes in 190 career appearances for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Through 14 games this season, the London, Ontario, native has 1 goal, 1 assist and 21 penalty minutes. Last season, Kristo paced the Wolves with 25 goals and ranked second on the squad with 48 points. The 26-year-old has appeared in eight games this season and registered 2 assists.
Defense is the Best Offense
This season the Chicago Wolves have heavily relied on their defensemen not only to defend — blocking shots, breaking up odd-man rushes — but to help spark the team’s offense. Through 15 games, Wolves blueliners have accounted for 33 of 112 — 29.5 percent — of the team’s total points. A member of the team’s top defensive pairing, 28-year-old Brad Hunt, is the team’s leading scorer. Hunt also leads all AHL defensemen in scoring with 16 points (5 goals and 11 assists). Novice defender Vince Dunn is also the team’s top performing rookie with 7 points (G, 6A) through 14 games. On Friday, Nov. 18, blueliner Jordan Schmaltz made his 2016-17 debut and registered a goal. The second- year professional nabbed his second point of the year, an assist, in Saturday’s 5-0 victory over the Wild.
During the 2011-12 season, the Charlotte Checkers’ second as members of the American Hockey League, they joined the Chicago Wolves, Milwaukee Admirals, Peoria Rivermen and Rockford IceHogs in the AHL’s Midwest Division in the Western Conference. In subsequent seasons — with the relocation of several teams — the Checkers were moved from the Midwest to the South and eventually to the West Division. With last season’s realignment overhaul, the Wolves and Checkers found themselves reunited as division rivals as members of the Central Division in the Western Conference. In eight meetings last year, the Wolves took the season series with a 4-3-0-1 record. That included a 9-5 victory on Oct. 17, 2015, and those nine tallies would stand as the Wolves’ most in a single game during the 2015-16 season.
BY THE NUMBERS:
- 1: Forwards Andrew Agozzino and Brett Sterling are one point away from reaching their respective milestones. In Saturday’s 5-0 victory over the Iowa Wild, Agozzino picked up career AHL point No. 199. At the 5:34 mark of the third period, Agozzino redirected a Sterling pass from the middle of the right circle for a power-play tally and his third goal of the season. The marker extended the Wolves’ lead to 3-0. On that same play, Sterling registered his 144th assist wearing a Wolves uniform. The 32-year-old California native is one helper away from taking sole possession of the No. 6 spot on the Wolves franchise all-time assist list. Currently he is tied with Steve Larouche.
- 5: Reid McNeill, the Wolves’ newest defenseman, will wear No. 5 as he begins his tenure with the club. He is the 23rd player to don the number for the Wolves; last season, Jérémie Blain sported the numeral. McNeill joined the team on Saturday after the St. Louis Blues (NHL) loaned the 24-year-old to the Wolves, having acquired him from the Pittsburgh Penguins in a National Hockey League trade for Wolves right wing Danny Kristo. McNeill posted 4 goals, 21 assists and 319 penalty minutes in 190 career appearances for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (AHL).
- 6: Center Ivan Barbashev leads all Wolves skaters with 6 goals, though the 20-year- old has been held scoreless in three of his last four games. The drought comes after a five-game point streak that saw the Moscow native nab 4 goals and 4 assists for 8 points. That streak included two multi-point games, and a highlight-reel goal in which his shot got stuck in the goal netting. The officials could not dislodge the puck and Grand Rapids Griffins ice crew had to cut the puck out and repair the net. In that 4-2 victory over the Griffins at Van Andel Arena, Barbshev also notched another goal to earn first-star status.
- 9: Saturday’s 5-0 victory against the Iowa Wild marked the Wolves’ first shutout of the season. The contest was also goaltender Pheonix Copley’s first shutout of the season and the seventh of his AHL career. In just his fifth start this season, the North Pole, Alaska, native turned aside 20 shots to help his team rebound from the 3-2 loss against the Wild on Friday night at Wells Fargo Arena. Through 5 games, Copley has a team-leading 1.78 goals-against average, which is also good enough to rank fifth among AHL goaltenders. Three of the league’s top five goaltenders in goals-against average reside in the Central Division. Milwaukee’s Juuse Saros (1.65) and Charlotte’s Michael Leighton (1.66) are Nos. 3 and 4, respectively.
- 29: During the 2015-16 season, left wing Emerson Clark skated in 29 games for the Chicago Wolves on a professional tryout contract (PTO). His hard- nosed style of play earned him a standard player’s contract (SPC) for this season, and the 23-year-old made his 2016-17 debut on Friday, Nov. 18, against the Iowa Wild. He began the season on loan to the Tulsa Oilers (ECHL). He appeared in 14 games and recorded 6 goals and 6 assists for 12 points. He also logged 57 penalty minutes. Through two games this season, Clark has an assist (Nov. 19 vs. IA) and has managed to stay out of the penalty box.
Recent Games Recap
Saturday, Nov. 19 (at) Chicago 5, Wild 0
- Chicago shut out Iowa; goaltender Pheonix Copley turned aside 20 shots for his first shutout of the year.
- Forward Bryce Gervais nabbed two goals, and Andrew Agozzino, Samuel Blais and Wade Megan each registered a goal.
- Wolves rookies — Samuel Blais (G, A), Conner Bleackley (A), Vince Dunn (A) and Gervais (2G) — accounted for 6 of the team’s 13 points.
Friday, Nov. 18 (at) Iowa 3, Chicago 2
- Chicago dropped the first of back-to-back games against the Iowa Wild.
- Defenseman Brad Hunt registered 2 points (G, A) to continue as the league’s top-scoring defenseman.
- Second-year blueliner Jordan Schmaltz notched his first goal of the season in his 2016-17 season debut.
- Goaltender Jordan Binnington turned aside 30 shots in his second consecutive start.
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