Saturday, Feb. 25 | 7:00 p.m. | Allstate Arena
There’s Still a Chance
With Iowa Wild sitting fourth in the Central Division, two spots behind the Chicago Wolves, there’s a lot on the line as the Calder Cup playoff picture takes shape. Iowa has fared better on the road than at home with a 15-9-2-0 record. However, the Wolves have been great about defending their den and are 18-6-1-1 playing at Allstate Arena. They’ve also outscored opponents 94-64 in their domain. Iowa has a meager 64-63 edge in scoring during its road games. Chicago prefers to score early and carry a lead going into the third period; the Wolves are 0-13-1-0 when trailing after the second period this season. Conversely, the Wild are 18-2-2-1 when leading after two frames of action.
PUPDATE: Rookie Update
The Chicago Wolves’ breakout rookies this season have been left wing Samuel Blais and defenseman Vince Dunn. Blais has skated in 54 of the team’s 55 games, only missing the 4-2 loss to Cleveland on Nov. 12 at Quicken Loans Arena. Of late, Blais has been filling top- line minutes in the absence of the two of the Wolves’ top three scorers. In 14 games since Jan. 20, the 20-year-old Blais has recorded nine goals and three assists for 12 points. He’s only been held scoreless four times in that span. The Quebec native is seventh in overall team scoring and second to Dunn in squad rookie scoring. Dunn, the Wolves’ youngest skater — four months Blais’ junior — has earned his way into a full-time spot in the Wolves’ top-two defensive pairings. The Ontario native has racked up 29 points (8G, 21A) through 51 games with Chicago. He has seven multi-point performances this season while earning time on special teams. The 20-year-old leads the Wolves blue-line corps in scoring — with a seven-point lead on captain Chris Butler — and is the club’s top point-getting rookie. Dunn is third among AHL rookie blueliners in scoring.
Backstopping the Chicago Wolves to a 4-2 victory over the Cleveland Monsters on Wednesday, Pheonix Copley became the latest Wolves netminder to notch back-to-back victories in back-to-back starts this season. His other victory came on Saturday, Feb. 18, against the Texas Stars at HEB Center. Copley leads Chicago’s goaltending trio in back-to- back back-to-backs, collecting double victories on four occasions. Chicago had a rocky start to the 2016-17 season, but Jordan Binnington recorded the first set of wins in back-to-back starts for a goaltender on Nov. 23 and 26 with Ws against the Charlotte Checkers and Rockford IceHogs, respectively. Copley’s first set came on Dec. 10 and 11 against the Milwaukee Admirals and Grand Rapids Griffins. Rookie goalkeeper Ville Husso recently collected his first and only set of back-to-back starts/victories in spectacular fashion with two overtime wins against the IceHogs on Feb. 4 and 7. Forward Andrew Agozzino (Feb. 4) and defenseman Petteri Lindbohm (Feb. 7) delivered the extra-time game-winning goals for the Wolves. Husso made a combined 59 saves in those victories.
BY THE NUMBERS
- 1: The Chicago Wolves’ lone shutout of the season came against the Iowa Wild during the clubs’ second meeting — the second of a back-to-back set. On Nov. 19 at Allstate Arena, Pheonix Copley backstopped the Wolves to a 5-0 victory against the Wild. Copley made 20 saves while Andrew Agozzino, Samuel Blais and Wade Megan all scored. Bryce Gervais recorded just the second two-goal effort of his professional career with back-to-back tallies in the third period.
- 7: Left wing Kenny Agostino looks to extend his scoring streak to seven games on Saturday night. The 24-year-old has two goals and seven assists for nine points during his current six-game streak. Earlier this season, Agostino recorded six goals and 16 assists during a career-high 11-game point streak from Dec. 18 to Jan. 8. His 61 points and 43 assists lead the entire American Hockey League in scoring; those totals are also professional-bests for the Morristown, New Jersey, native. Agostino recently returned from a seven-game stint in the National Hockey League with the St. Louis Blues. While with the Wolves’ affiliate, the former Yale standout collected a goal and two assists for three points.
- 99: Left wing Magnus Paajarvi comes into Saturday’s game with 99 career AHL points (33G, 66A). The 25-year-old earned veteran status, having skated in 427 combined NHL and AHL contests. Selected by the Edmonton Oilers in the first round, 10th overall, of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft as Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, the Sweden native was already skating at the professional level for Timra in the Swedish Elite League. Paajarvi debuted in North America on Oct. 7, 2010, with the Oilers against the Calgary Flames. He netted his first goal and assist three games later against Calgary on Oct. 16. Paajarvi came to the Blues organization in a trade for David Perron and two future draft picks — one of which became Wolves center Ivan Barbashev — on July 10, 2013. Through parts of three seasons with Chicago, Paajarvi has appeared in 69 games and recorded 22 goals and 32 assists.
- 100: Chicago Wolves center Wade Megan registered his 100th career AHL point in Wednesday’s 4-2 victory against the reigning Calder Cup champion Cleveland Monsters. The 26-year-old assisted on rookie defenseman Vince Dunn’s go-ahead goal at 10:15 of the third period. It also marked Megan’s first point with the Wolves since he was returned on loan by St. Louis Blues on Feb. 17. Megan has skated in two games — Feb. 18 and 22 — since his latest return from the National Hockey League. In his most recent stint with the Blues, Megan appeared in two games and accumulated 16:44 of ice time. At the AHL level, the New York native is having a career year, surpassing all his previous professional-best benchmarks: points (23), goals (14) and assists (9). Through 52 games this season, Megan has 23 goals and 23 assists for 46 points and is on track to nearly triple his previous season-best point total.
- 450: American Hockey League veteran Brett Sterling’s next point will be his 450th career point in the league. Sterling has skated eight seasons in the AHL built around trips to the National Hockey League and stints in both the Austrian Hockey League and Swedish Hockey League. Sterling has had a decorated AHL career that includes a Calder Cup in 2008, Rookie of the Year and Top Goal Scorer in 2007, as well as being named an all-star four times. His 176 goals places him second on the Wolves’ franchise goal-scoring list, and his 334 points ranks him fifth on the franchise scoring list. He’s just nine points shy of passing former teammate Jason Krog for the No. 4 spot. This season, the 32-year-old cracked the franchise top-10 all-time games list, passing general manager and former goaltender Wendell Young, Tim Breslin and, most recently, former teammate Darren Haydar for the No. 8 position.
RECENT GAME REWIND
- Chicago quickly overcame a one-goal deficit for its third victory of the season against Cleveland.
- Rookie defenseman Vince Dunn (G, A) and veteran wing Magnus Paajarvi( G, A) each tallied two points
- Defensemen Chris Butler and Petteri Lindbohm also scored in the win
- Netminder Pheonix Copley made 23 saves.
- The Wolves topped the Stars for the first time in three seasons at HEB Center.
- Forward Andrew Agozzino (G, A) and defenseman Chris Butler (2A) led the offensive with two points.
- Forwards Samuel Blais, Conner Bleackley and Brett Sterling also tallied in the victory.
- Goaltender Pheonix Copley made 27 saves and turned aside a penalty shot.
Saturday night’s game begins at 7:00 p.m. on CW50’s “Saturday Night with the Wolves,” presented by the Illinois Office of Tourism.