Sunday, Jan. 15 | 2 p.m. | MTS Centre
Last Friday Night
On Friday at MTS Centre, the Chicago Wolves staged a 4-2 victory over the Manitoba Moose in their first of two games at MTS Centre in Winnipeg. In a tightly contested game, the Wolves took their first lead at 16:41 of the third period when Bryce Gervais — at least 25 of his closest friends and family members on hand — hustled past the Manitoba defense for a game-winning breakaway goal that snapped a 2-2 tie. Kenny Agostino, the AHL’s leading scorer, sniped the puck into an empty net with less than a second on the clock to seal the victory for Chicago. The victory marked the 10th win in 11 games for the Wolves. They again netted four goals for the 22nd time this season and continue to lead the league in goals scored with 140 for an average of 3.5 goals per game. The next-closest team — the Lehigh Valley Phantoms — have scored 132 goals. The club’s record when scoring four or more goals improved to 20-0-2-0.
The offensive-minded Chicago Wolves have been getting a lot of their firepower from the guys patrolling the blue line. Through 40 games, the Wolves defense have accounted for nearly 30 percent of the team’s 370 points. Five defenseman have hit double-digit point totals: Brad Hunt (9-20–29), Vince Dunn (7-13–20), Jordan Schmaltz (3-14–17), Morgan Ellis (4-10–14) and Chris Butler (2-10–12). With Hunt playing in the NHL, Dunn has taken up the mantle as the Wolves’ top-scoring active defenseman — the 20-year-old also leads the rookie class — with 20 points through 36 games. On Jan. 3, Butler collected the first three-point (all assists) game of his professional career versus the Charlotte Checkers. The captain also accounted for a number of plays that he didn’t get credit for on the scoresheet. More of a stay-at-home defenseman, Reid McNeill has contributed to the Wolves’ offensive punch as well. In Chicago’s 5-2 win over the Charlotte Checkers on Jan. 7 at Allstate Arena, the 24-year-old netted his first goal as a Wolves player. He also has three points (G, 2A) in his last five games compared to a goal and two assists in 27 games before that.
BY THE NUMBERS
- 5: Defenseman Morgan Ellis has collected two goals and three assists for five points in the Chicago Wolves’ last five outings. That point-per-game output is far better than his 0.27 points per game through his first 33 contests with the Wolves this season. In Chicago’s 4-2 victory over the Manitoba Moose on Friday, Ellis netted the second game-tying goal with a blast from the center of the blue line at 16:42 of the middle frame. Then he sprung center Bryce Gervais for the game-winning breakaway goal at 16:41 of the final frame that broke the 2-2 tie. In the defensive grudge match between the Wolves and Milwaukee Admirals on Wednesday, Ellis was one of three defensemen to account for three of the Wolves’ five points in their 2-1 Amtrak Rivalry victory.
- 36: With 36 power-play goals in 164 extra-man opportunities, the Chicago Wolves rank seventh in the league with a 22.0 percent success rate on the power play. Naturally, the American Hockey League’s leading scorer, Kenny Agostino, also leads the Wolves in power-play tallies with six. Center Ivan Barbashev is one goal shy of matching Aogstino’s total while Andrew Agozzino and Wade Megan have each collected four. Chicago has registered 105 of its 370 points on the power play; that’s 28.4 percent of its total points through 40 games. The Wolves have also scored more than a quarter — 25.7 percent — of its goals with the man advantage. On Oct. 29, the Wolves’ first victory of the season at Allstate Arena, they recorded a season-high four power-play goals against their in-state nemesis, the Rockford IceHogs. While they have not repeated that feat, they’ve managed to stay on a 0.90 power-play goals-per-game pace.
- 51: The Chicago Wolves have earned 51 points in their first 40 games, which is good enough to co-lead the Central Division. However, in a league ranked by win percentage, the Wolves are sitting second in the division rankings behind only the Grand Rapids Griffins. The Griffins, having played just 36 games compared to the Wolves’ 40, have notched 24 victories — one better than Chicago — and boast a .708 win percentage. The Wolves with a 23-12-3-2 record have a .638 win percentage, but have fared slightly better than Grand Rapids in their last 10 games with a 9-1-0-0 record to the Griffins’ 8-2-0-0 tally. Both teams are nursing young win streaks: the Wolves are 2-0-0-0 while the Griffins are 3-0-0-0.
- 99: Left wing Kenny Agostino has launched 99 shots. The total makes the 24-year-old 2017 AHL All-Star the Chicago Wolves’ leading shot-taker. He also set the team’s individual game-high for shots when he fired 10 on net in the Wolves’ 4-2 victory over the Charlotte Checkers on Nov. 23. In that contest, he and linemates Landon Ferraro and Wade Megan accounted for seven of Chicago’s 11 points. Agostino also holds the team’s individual game-highs in points (5 at IA, Dec. 31), goals (4 at IA, Dec. 31), assists (4 at GR, Dec. 7) and plus/minus rating (+4 at IA, Dec. 31). While the former Yale University standout leads the Wolves in several categories, he ranks only fourth in shooting percentage. Chicago’s resident sharpshooter is center Ivan Barbashev with a 27.9 shooting percentage and 17 goals on 61 shots. The next-best shooter is center Wade Megan with a team-leading 19 goals on 87 shots for a 21.8 shooting percentage. The pair are the only Wolves with a shooting percentage above 20 percent.
- 134: This season, the Chicago Wolves have killed off 134 of 158 opponent power plays. With an 84.8 percent penalty-kill rate, the Wolves rank fourth in the American Hockey League. At times, the Wolves have been able to optimize their penalty-kill time, scoring five short-handed goals. Three of those shorties are courtesy of center Wade Megan, the AHL’s leading short-handed goal-scorer last season. Forward Andrew Agozzino and rookie Mackenzie MacEachern accounted for the other two short-handed markers. Megan also leads the club with four short-handed points — he is the team’s only skater to tally a short-handed assist.
- Chicago overcame Manitoba for its 10th win in 11 games.
- Goaltender Pheonix Copley recorded another 35-save performance in the victory.
- Center Bryce Gervais netted a game-winning breakaway goal at 16:41 of the third frame to break a 2-2 tie.
- Wing Kenny Agostino sniped an empty-net insurance marker for his 51st point of the season.
- The Wolves beat the Admirals for their fifth consecutive Amtrak Rivalry win.
- With a 35-save performance, the contest also marked goaltender Pheonix Copley’s fifth win over the Admirals.
- Defensemen Vince Dunn and Morgan Ellis scored the goals for the Wolves.
- At 19:25 of the third period, Milwaukee’s Justin Florek ended Copley’s shutout bid.
Sunday’s game begins at 2:00 p.m. on The U Too presented by the Illinois Office of Tourism. The U Too is found over the air at WCIU-DT 26.2. Cable subscribers get the channel on Xfinity 230 and 360, RCN 35 and WOW 170 while Dish Network customers find the games on Ch. 48.