Saturday, Feb. 4 | 7 p.m. | Allstate Arena
Illinois Lottery Cupdate
Saturday marks the 10th clash in this season’s battle for the Illinois Lottery Cup. With a victory in regulation, the Chicago Wolves clinch the Cup for the first time since the 2014-15 season when they also nabbed their fifth division title. The Cup champion is based on wins — with the tiebreaker being total points — in this 12-game regular-season series. If the Wolves were to win in extra time tonight, the Wolves will clinch no worse than a share of the Cup. Chicago does have home-ice advantage with two of the final contests taking place at Allstate Arena. Through four games at Allstate, the Wolves are 3-0-0-1 and at Rockford’s home base, Chicago is 2-3-0-0.
Comforts of Home
Keep Your Enemies Close
Chicago Wolves defensemen Jared Nightingale and James Wisniewski have skated for the the Wolves’ in-state foe, the Rockford IceHogs. Wisniewski skated in just two games for Rockford during the 2008-09 season, and one of those contests was against Chicago on Dec. 13. In that tilt, Wisniewski showcased his offensive skills and helped power the IceHogs to a 7-2 victory over the Wolves. He collected four points — his first professional hat trick and an assist. Wisniewski converted all three shots he attempted and earned a team-leading +4 plus/minus rating. Nightingale spent the entire 2013-14 season with the IceHogs. Then skating in his ninth American Hockey League season, the veteran blue liner appeared in 67 games and was named the squad’s captain on Jan. 14, 2014. That year, Nightingale finished with a goal and three assists for four points, in addition to logging a -14 plus/minus rating and a team-leading 114 penalty minutes.
BY THE NUMBERS
- 7: Amid a career year, center Wade Megan is the Chicago Wolves’ leading scorer against the Rockford IceHogs with seven goals and seven assists for 14 points through nine games. Those markers along with his 14 others have him tied for second-most goals among American Hockey League players. He and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton center Jake Guentzel are tailing the Lehigh Valley Phantoms’ Greg Carey by a single goal. So far this season, Megan has set career-bests in all major offensive categories: points, goals and assists. The 26-year-old is on pace to collect 64 points this season, nearly tripling his previous career-high which he set last year with the Portland Pirates. Megan, who led the AHL last year with seven short-handed goals, has a chance to repeat. He’s in a five-way tie for the most shorties in the league with three.
- 14: Left wing Samuel Blais is leading the offensive charge for the Chicago Wolves eight-man rookie class. With his tally in Friday night’s 5-2 loss to the Central Division-leading Grand Rapids Griffins, Blais stretched his season total to 14, the most among first-year skaters. The 20-year-old has become more comfortable throughout the season and established himself as one of the Wolves’ top rookies. He has four multi-point performances, including three two-goal showings, and has not missed a game since Nov. 12 against the Cleveland Monsters. That contest is the only one Blais did not skate in this season. The only first-year with more points than Blais is defenseman Vince Dunn. The youngest skater on the Chicago roster also has solidified himself as a top rookie for the Wolves. He has contributed to the team’s offensive success with seven goals and 17 assists for 24 points and looks confident making playing in difficult situations. For his efforts, Dunn was named a 2017 American Hockey League All-Star in January and represented the Wolves along with teammate Kenny Agostino.
- 60: Saturday night, Chicago Wolves left wing Kenny Agostino is on the prowl for point No. 60 on the season. In Friday night’s 5-2 setback against the Grand Rapids Griffins, Agostino pushed his league-leading point total to 59 (18G ,41A) with a power-play goal late in the second period. His third American Hockey League season is shaping up to be a career year for the 24-year-old. Agostino already has surpassed his previous career-high in points (57) and assists (34) and is on the verge of passing his best goal total (23). The former Yale standout’s impressive first half — scoring 25 points (7G, 18A) in 14 games during the month of December and putting together an 11-game point streak (Dec. 18-Jan. 8) with 22 points (6G, 16A) — also earned his first AHL all-star nod. On Jan. 30, he and teammate Vince Dunn represented the Wolves in the 2017 AHL All-Star Challenge, and the duo helped the Central Division defend its title in the round-robin 3-on-3 tournament. Agostino recorded a goal and two assists while Dunn registered a single helper.
- 68: Through the Chicago Wolves’ last three games, Andrew Agozzino has been the team’s strongest centerman with a nearly 68 percent success rate in the faceoff circle. The 26-year-old primarily has played left wing this season, until some roster moves — injuries and returns from loan — required head coach Craig Berube to juggle lines. Agozzino has been centering the Wolves’ third line with veteran Brett Sterling and rookie Samuel Blais as his wings. The trio has combined for nine points (5G, 4A) in their last three contests. Agozzino last spent significant time at center in October 2016 when he handled duties against the San Antonio Rampage (Oct. 23) and Rockford IceHogs (Oct. 29).
- 343: Friday night marked left wing Brett Sterling’s 343rd game wearing a Chicago Wolves sweater. The feat moved him to the No. 8 spot on the franchise all-time games-played list, surpassing former teammate Darren Haydar. On Dec. 15, the 32-year-old cracked the franchise top-10 list, passing Chicago Wolves general manager and retired championship goaltender Wendell Young for sole possession of the No. 10 spot with 323 games. Since that date, Sterling has appeared in every game for the Wolves, and has three goals and seven assists for 10 points. The veteran wing has also become a role model for the Wolves’ eight-member rookie class. Often referred to as Mr. Wolf by his teammates, Sterling has exemplified what it means to be part of the Chicago franchise and a leader both on and off the ice.
Recent Game Rewind
Friday, Feb. 3 Grand Rapids 5, (at) Chicago 2
- The Wolves fell to the Griffins for the sixth time this season.
- Griffins forward Matt Lorito netted two goals and former Wolves netminder Eddie Pasquale made 30 saves.
- Forwards Kenny Agostino and Samuel Blais tallied for Chicago.
- Goaltender Pheonix Copley made 28 saves in the loss.
- The Wolves dropped their third contest of the season to the Monsters at Quicken Loans Arena.
- Defenseman Morgan Ellis and forward Andrew Agozzino put Chicago up 2-0 in the first, but Cleveland tied it in the second.
- Monsters right wing Oliver Bjorkstrand scored in the ninth round of the shootout and Wolves left wing Brett Sterling could not solve Joonas Korpisalo to keep the shootout going.
- Goaltender Pheonix Copley made 30 saves through 65 minutes and stopped four of nine shooters in the shootout.
Saturday night’s game begins at 7:00 p.m. with CW50’s “Saturday Night with the Wolves,” presented by the Illinois Office of Tourism.