Wednesday, March 12 | 7:00 p.m. | Allstate Arena
Lone Star Skate
In February, the Wolves reversed the HEB Center Curse, winning their first game at the arena — the Texas Stars’ compound — in three seasons. Wednesday night, Chicago turns its attention to continuing its season-long trend of home-ice success. The Wolves are 22-6- 2-1 against opponents in their den. They’ve also handily outscored those competitors 116- 78. However, historically, Chicago has not fared well against Texas at home. The Wolves have won just three of their last nine games against the Stars at Allstate Arena and trail in the all-time series 5-11-1-2 in their confines. The Wolves are leading this year’s season series 2-0-1-0 and that includes a series-opening victory on Nov. 30. Jordan Binnington backstopped Chicago to a 4-3 regulation win with 21 saves.
New Number, Who Dis?
Centers Brad Malone and Tage Thompson are wearing No. 28 and No. 39, respectively, as the Wolves don their annual St. Patrick’s Day-themed jerseys during the club’s next two home games. That includes tonight’s game as well as the Central Division showdown with the Grand Rapids Griffins on Saturday. Malone came to the Wolves on Feb. 27 as part of an NHL trade between the St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals. The 27-year-old tallied two goals in his Wolves debut on March 4 against the Cleveland Monsters. Usually sporting No. 40, Malone is just the second player in franchise history to don the digit; goaltender Fred Brathwaite wore it for two seasons (2006-08). After deciding to forgo his last two seasons at the University of Connecticut, Thompson signed a three-year entry-level contract with the St. Louis Blues, who drafted the 19-year-old 26th overall in the 2016 NHL Draft. With his collegiate career at a permanent close and his NHL deal not taking effect until the 2017-18 season, Thompson inked an amateur tryout contract with the Wolves. Thompson made his AHL debut on March 11 and wore No. 32.
Husso in Rotation
Rookie goaltender Ville Husso is available for the Chicago Wolves lineup for the first time since Feb. 10 when he started against the San Antonio Rampage at Allstate Arena. In that contest, the 22-year-old played just 5:04 of the first frame before leaving due to injury and would miss the succeeding 10 games. With the departure of netminder Pheonix Copley on Feb. 27 due to an NHL trade between the St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals, the Wolves signed C.J. Motte to a professional tryout contract to back up Jordan Binnington. In Husso’s absence, Binnington started five consecutive games and recorded a 4-0-1-0 record, a .910 save percentage and a 2.56 goals-against average. The 23-year-old also recorded his first shutout since Jan. 2, 2016, on Saturday in a 4-0 victory against the Milwaukee Admirals. Binnington made 21 saves for the win.
BY THE NUMBERS
- 18: Eighteen spots separate the Chicago Wolves and Texas Stars in the American Hockey League standings. The Wolves are all but guaranteed a playoff spot, currently seeded second in the Central Division while the Stars are almost last in the Pacific Division. Chicago is looking stellar during its rebound season — after last year’s below .500 finish, the first in franchise history — with a 36-17-5-3 record. Wednesday’s game can give the Wolves a one-point advantage on the division-leading Grand Rapids Griffins (though the Griffins will have two games in hand) to ensure this weekend’s home- and-home series becomes a battle for the top spot in the Central Division.
19: Last week, Kenny Agostino stretched his lead to 19 points in the American Hockey League scoring race. The 24-year-old collected four more assists to give him 52 helpers and 73 points on the season. The next-closest scorer is the Hartford Wolf Pack’s Taylor Beck, who has 15 goals and 39 assists for 54 points. Agostino, a New Jersey native, nabbed three of his four assists in Saturday’s 4-0 shutout over the Milwaukee Admirals. Agostino now has four multi-point efforts in his last five games as well as 19 multi-point performances overall. The former Yale University standout is riding a five-game point streak with three goals and nine assists.
- 20: Rookie left wing Samuel Blais is just one goal short of the 20-tally plateau. If the 20-year-old reaches the benchmark, he’ll be the first Wolves rookie since his teammate Ty Rattie during the 2013-14 season to do so. Rattie not only reached 20 goals in his first-year campaign, he also led the entire Chicago Wolves team with 31 goals and 17 assists for 48 points. This season for the offensively deep Wolves, Blais is sixth in team scoring and second among rookies with 34 points.
- 30: Center Wade Megan is just three tallies shy of reaching the 30-goal mark for the season. If Megan does hit the mark, he would be the first Wolves skater with 30 tallies since Shane Harper during the 2014-15 season. Already having a career year, the milestone would mark a career-best for the 26-year- old. This season, Megan has surpassed his previous personal-bests in goals (14), assists (9) and points (23). The New York native is projected to nearly triple his previous career- best point total.
- 324: Veteran left wing Brett Sterling has 234 career American Hockey League goals — the most of any active player in the league — which is just three shy of cracking the league’s top-50 all-time list. Sterling has moved on several Wolves franchise lists this year, including breaking into the top-10 games list. With his next game being No. 358 in a Wolves uniform, this season Sterling passed Wendell Young (322), Tim Breslin (330) and Darren Haydar for the No. 8 spot. The California native is just six points behind Jason Krog (342) for the fourth spot on the Wolves franchise scoring list. The four-time AHL all-star also slid into the No. 6 position on the franchise assists list with 158 helpers.
Last-Two Look Back
- Chicago blanked Milwaukee in the season series’ second shutout.
- Veterans Andrew Agozzino and James Wisniewski, as well as rookie Vince Dunn and Mackenzie MacEachern all tallied for the Wolves.
- Goaltender Jordan Binnington made 21 saves for his first shutout of the season.
- The Wolves twice overcame one-goal deficits to force overtime, but the Monsters ended the Wolves’ home winning streak at eight games.
- Veterans Brett Sterling and James Wisniewski both tallied while Andrew Agozzino assisted on both goals.
- Goaltender Jordan Binnington turned aside 25 shots in the loss.