Wednesday, Jan. 11 | 7 p.m. | Allstate Arena
The Drive For Five
The Chicago Wolves are looking for their fifth consecutive Amtrak Rivalry victory over their Central Division foe, the Milwaukee Admirals. The Wolves started off the season series with three consecutive losses — regulation, overtime and shootout. On Dec. 10 at UWM Panther Arena, Chicago finally sank the Admirals in a 5-2 triumph. That contest can be attributed to the Wolves’ offensive defense and scintillating power play. Rookie blueliner Vince Dunn (2G) and captain Chris Butler (G) each tallied for Chicago. The Wolves netted two power-play markers — from Ivan Barbashev and Dunn — and kept Milwaukee off the scoresheet in extra-man situations. A win tonight would mark the first time the Wolves have beaten an opponent in five straight games since they snubbed the Charlotte Checkers five times from Feb. 6, 2015 to Feb. 21, 2016. This victory also would be one step closer to matching an eight-game win streak against the Admirals from Dec. 26, 2014 to Oct. 10, 2015.
Rise of the Pheonix
Goaltender Pheonix Copley has backstopped the Chicago Wolves in four consecutive Amtrak Rivalry victories over the Milwaukee Admirals. This season, Copley has started in six of the seven games played thus far in the 12-game series, accruing a 4-1-1 record, a 2.45 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage. Copley’s performances include a 4-3 shootout victory — Chicago’s first extra-time win of the season — in which he turned aside all three Milwaukee shooters in the shootout. There of the 24-year-old’s four wins versus the Admirals came during the Wolves’ league-best eight-game winning streak that was put to bed on Jan. 8 by the Rockford IceHogs. To that point, Copley has been alternating games with rookie Ville Husso. Copley will head into his next start for the Wolves riding a four-game winning streak as Husso was in net the for Chicago’s recent loss, ending his win streak at five games.
Back in the Saddle
The Chicago Wolves are hunting for another W after snapping their league-high-matching eight-game winning streak in a 6-3 Illinois Lottery Cup loss to their in-state foe, the Rockford IceHogs. The mark also matched the team’s longest winning streak in the last seven years as the Wolves won eight in a row from Feb. 9-21, 2010. Chicago has plenty of time to again reach and then surpass an eight-game win streak, particularly if the team keeps up its scoring pace. Outside of Sunday’s loss, the Wolves have not scored fewer than four goals in a game since Dec. 21 in a 6-2 loss to Rockford. And those 44 goals through eight games helped give them 134 goals on the season, which is the highest team goal total in the American Hockey League. The next closest team is the Wilkes-Barre/ Scranton Penguins with 123 markers to their credit. During the 2015-16 season, Chicago netted 194 goals for a franchise-record low. This season, the Wolves are on pace to collect 268 goals, the club’s highest season goal total since 2005-06 when they tallied 275.
BY THE NUMBERS
- 2: On Jan. 5, the American Hockey League announced left wing Kenny Agostino and defenseman Brad Hunt as the two Chicago Wolves representatives for the 2017 AHL All-Star Classic. Agostino, the league’s leading scorer, made his case irrefutable during the month of December, tallying 25 points (7G, 18A) through 14 games. The mark was the most in a month for an AHL player in nearly seven seasons. Hunt has been out of action with the Wolves since being recalled by the St. Louis Blues (NHL) on Dec. 8. Prior to his NHL departure, the blueliner was leading the entire AHL in scoring with 29 points through 23 games. Even with his 15-game absence, the 28-year-old has yet to fall from the league’s top 20.
- 7: Center Ivan Barbashev enters tonight’s contest against the Milwaukee Admirals looking to extend his goal streak to seven games. Barbashev is the Wolves’ second-leading scorer against the Admirals with six goals and two assists for 10 points. During the 22-year-old’s goal stint, he has also collected five assists for 11 points and logged a +3 plus/minus rating along with 16 shots on goal and zero penalty minutes. Barbashev has not been to the penalty box since Dec. 26, the second of the Wolves’ three Amtrak Rivalry victories over Milwaukee during their eight-game win streak from Dec. 22 to Jan 7.
- 10: The Chicago Wolves are carrying the No. 7 penalty kill and the No. 8 power play in the American Hockey League. Boasting a 23.7 power-play percentage, the Wolves have netted 34 goals in 157 chances. Skating with a man down, Chicago has stifled 127 of its opponents’ 150 power-play chances for a 84.7 penalty-kill percentage. The Wolves have also taken advantage when they are down a skater, tallying five short- handed markers — three of which belong to last season’s leading short-handed scorer, Wade Megan. Rookie Mackenzie MacEachern and fifth-year pro Andrew Agozzino have accounted for the other two. Inversely, Chicago has given up three shorties, including one versus the Cleveland Monsters and two against its in-state nemesis, the Rockford IceHogs.
- 39: Wednesday marks the Chicago Wolves’ 39th game of the 76-game American Hockey League season as the Wolves lead the American Hockey League in games played. The Iowa Wild are one game behind and not back in action until Friday (Jan. 13) against the San Antonio Rampage at the AT&T Center. In action tonight, the Albany Devils, Hartford Wold Pack and Rochester Americans all will pull even with Iowa at 37 games, while the Wolves will continue to lead the AHL heading into competition on Friday when they make their lone trip north of the border to face the Manitoba Moose on Friday and Sunday (Jan. 15).
- 50: Left wing Kenny Agostino has been unstoppable, racking up 50 points — 15 goals and 35 assist — through the halfway point of the 2016-17 season. The 24-year-old has as 12-point lead on the next closest skater — Wilkes-Barre/Scranton rookie Jake Guentzel with 38 points (19G, 19A). Agostino is at the forefront of the Wolves’ offense, picking up points in 11 consecutive games; tonight he’s hunting for point No. 51 to keep his scoring steak alive. In that span, the former Yale University standout has collected 22 points (6G, 16A). He’s currently chasing the Hershey Bears’ Paul Carey for the American Hockey League season-high scoring streak high. Carey tallied a point – 22 in total – in 19 consecutive games from Oct. 26 to Dec. 26. If Agostino continues his pace, he’ll register 38 points in the same game count.
- Rockford handed Chicago its first loss in nine games.
- The IceHogs’ Brandon Mashinter and Tyler Motte each tallied two goals.
- Wolves rookie Samuel Blais netted two goals in the loss while Kenny Agostino pushed his scoring streak to 11 games with an assist.
- Rookie netminder Ville Husso turned aside 30 shots.
- The Wolves toppled the Checkers for the second consecutive time to extend their season-high winning streak to eight contests.
- Center Wade Megan led the way with one goal and two assists while Kenny Agostino and Magnus Paajarvi each tallied two assists and defenseman Jordan Schmaltz recorded a goal and an assist.
- Rookie netminder Ville Husso turned aside 22 shots in the the victory.
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