Thursday, Dec. 15 | 11 a.m. | at Allstate Arena
Kenny the Argronaut
Chicago Wolves forward Kenny Agostino has been a major contributor in the Wolves’ success of late. The 24-year-old has racked up 3 goals and 9 assists for 12 points in the last six games. That stint includes multi-point performances against the Texas Stars (1-2–3) on Nov. 30 and Grand Rapids Griffins (0-4–4) on Dec. 7, which suggests he’s particularly good in these midweek games. In Agostino’s four-point performance in Chicago’s 6-5 overtime setback against their Central Division rival the Griffins, the former Yale University Bulldog became just the third AHL player to tally four assists in a single game this season. He was also the first Wolves player to complete the feat since Jason Krog did it against the Rockford IceHogs on April 12, 2008. Agostino’s 12 points bring his season totals to 9 goals and 18 assists for 27 points. He has snuck up the AHL scoring leader board and is now third in league scoring behind his teammate Brad Hunt. Thirteen (6G, 7A) of Agostino’s 27 points have come on the power play. He’s also one of just of four Wolves players to have appeared in all 25 games this season.
Long Time, No See
Thursday is the sixth meeting of the 2016-17 season between the Chicago Wolves and Grand Rapids Griffins. The clubs will square off in 10 meetings this season. Throughout 21 seasons — dating back to the International Hockey League — the Wolves and Griffins have met in 135 regular-season contests. The Griffins hold the upper hand in the regular- season series with a 74-51-2-6-2 (W-L-T-OTL-SOL) record. However, the Wolves have been the better of the pair in the postseason with a 11-8 record versus the Griffins. Last time Chicago and Grand Rapids battled in the second season, the Wolves swept the Griffins — while outscoring them 17-6 — in the opening round of the 2004 Calder Cup Playoffs. Chicago went on to lose to the Milwaukee Admirals in six games in the second round.
Brad Hunt is carving his niche in the NHL. In three NHL games since being recalled from loan by the St. Louis Blues on Dec. 8, Hunt has been averaging a point per game with a goal and two assists in three games. The 28-year-old’s lone goal came on the power play in the Blues’ Dec. 13 contest against the Nashville Predators. The goal was a prototypical Hunt one-timer; he floated to the top of the left circle and Vladimir Tarasenko fed him a pass for the shot he sent low on Pekka Rinne’s glove side. This season, through 23 games with the Chicago Wolves, Hunt collected 15 (2G, 13A) of his 29 points on the man advantage. Still the Wolves’ leading scorer despite being gone for a week, Hunt also remains second in American Hockey League scoring as he trails Bakers eld’s Taylor Beck by just a point.
BY THE NUMBERS
- 3: Finishing Sunday’s 4-1 route over Grand Rapids with a +3 plus/minus rating, Chicago Wolves captain Chris Butler became the first Wolves player of the season to accomplish the feat. Previously, the highest single-game plus/minus rating for Wolves skaters was +2. The team was averaging 2-3 skaters per game with a +2 rating in December. With his usual defensive partner, Brad Hunt, recalled from loan by the St. Louis Blues (NHL), Butler has been skating with second-year professional Jordan Schmaltz. Butler has four points (2G, 2A) in the last five games. The 30-year-old was held off the scoresheet for the entire month of November, but then collected an assist in the Wolves’ 4-1 victory over their in-state rival, the Rockford IceHogs, in the first game of December.
- 4: In their five games during December, the Chicago Wolves have picked up four victories and an overtime loss. Going back to their 4-3 win over the Texas Stars on Nov. 30 at Allstate Arena, the Wolves have collected 11 of 12 possible points to place them third in the closely contested Central Division. During this six-game point streak, Chicago sank the division-leading Milwaukee Admirals for the first time this season. Previously, the Wolves had suffered regulation, overtime and shootout losses to Milwaukee. On Dec. 10 at UWM Panther Arena, the Wolves downed the Admirals 5-2. Kenny Agostino, Ivan Barbashev, Chris Butler and Vince Dunn (2) all tallied to power the Wolves to victory. Goaltender Pheonix Copley also stood tall, turning aside 29 shots for the win.
- 14: Through 25 games, the Chicago Wolves have outscored their opponents 80- 64. The only Western Conference team with a better goal differential is the Stockton Heat, which has outscored its opponents 72-50 through 21 games. With a 13-8-2-1 record, the Wolves own the eighth-best record in the Western Conference and the third-best mark in the Central Division.
- 25: Four Chicago Wolves skaters have appeared in all 25 games for the club this season. Forwards Kenny Agostino, Ivan Barbashev and Alex Friesen, as well as defenseman — and captain —Chris Butler have skated in every game this season. Agostino is second in team scoring with 27 points (9G, 18A) and a 1.08 point-per-game average. He also leads the squad with 6 power-play goals and 65 shots on net. Barbashev ranks fourth in team scoring with 19 (7G, 12A). Friesen is one of the Wolves’ top centermen with a 50 percent faceoff percentage. Only Wade Megan — with 51 percent — is better on the faceoff dot than Friesen. Recalled from loan by the St. Louis Blues (NHL) on Nov. 10, Butler was returned on loan the next day just in time for the Wolves Nov. 11 contest against the Cleveland Monsters at Quicken Loans Arena.
- 40: Now wearing No. 40 for the Grand Rapids Griffins, goaltender Eddie Pasquale backstopped the Chicago Wolves during the 2010-11 season. In 24 contests for the Wolves, the then-20-year-old posted a 2.93 goals- against average and a .900 save percentage. He finished the season with a 11-11-1 record as well as a shutout. Pasquale was one of five goaltenders to appear in net for Chicago that season.
Recent Games Recaps
- Chicago handled Grand Rapids in the clubs’ fifth meeting of the season.
- Goaltender Pheonix Copley made 27 saves in the victory.
- Forwards Andrew Agozzino, Jordan Caron, Bryce Gervais and Wade Megan all tallied for Chicago.
- The win was the Wolves’ sixth consecutive game scoring four or more goals.
- The Wolves toppled the Admirals for the first time this season in four meetings.
- Rookie defenseman Vince Dunn registered two goals while forward Kenny Agostino nabbed two points (G, A).
- Forward Ivan Barbashev and captain Chris Butler also tallied in the win.
- Goaltender Pheonix Copley (4-3-1) turned aside 29 shots in the game.
- The Wolves were edged in overtime for the second time this season by the Griffins.
- Forward Kenny Agostino registered four assists and center Wade Megan collected two goals.
- Forwards Andrew Agozzino, Bryce Gervais and defenseman Brad Hunt also tallied.
- Goaltender Jordan Binnington made 29 saves in the loss.