Welcome to Wolves Roundup, a weekly report of highlights, notes and transactions from the Chicago Wolves’ previous week of competition during the 2016-17 season.
This week, the Chicago Wolves will battle through a 3-in-3 weekend as they continue to stalk toward the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs. The competition – the Charlotte Checkers (April 2), Cleveland Monsters (April 1) and Iowa Wild (March 31) – are all trying to claw their way into the fourth and final Central Division postseason position.
Though Chicago has at least a point in 16 of its last 17 games, their Calder Cup Playoff fate still rests on their division rivals. The earliest the Wolves can punch their ticket for the postseason is on Thursday (March 30), pending the last-place IceHogs can beat the struggling Wild at BMO Harris Bank Center, and the Monsters earn no more than a point through two games against Charlotte this week (Tuesday and Thursday) at Quicken Loans Arena.
The Wild has dropped its last four games, but has a chance to snap that streak (on Tuesday against Rockford) prior to facing Chicago on Friday at Wells Fargo Arena. In good news for the Wolves, they’ve been stellar against the Wild at Wells Fargo Arena with a 14-1-1-1 record cover the past four seasons.
Chicago returns to Allstate Arena on Saturday to close out the season series with Cleveland. This season, the Monsters have been a thorn in the Wolves’ side and lead the season series 7-4-0-0. Four of Chicago’s losses, however, have come in either overtime or a shootout. Most recently, the Wolves lost back-to-back contests against Cleveland at Quicken Loans Arena.
The weekend ends with Chicago’s third game against Charlotte in four weeks. The Wolves hold the edge in the season series, 4-1-0-1, but the Checkers won’t go away quietly. Especially with a postseason spot on the line.
The Richmond Hill, Ontario, native twice backstopped the Chicago Wolves last week to extra-time losses to remain unbeaten in regulation since Feb. 12 with a 6-0-3-2 record. Though Binnington suffered two shootout setbacks, he still posted a 1.38 goals-against average and a .941 save percentage through a combined 128:41 of playing time. The 23-year-old also has appeared in 11 of the Wolves’ last 17 games.
On Saturday, the 20-year-old netted his 20th and 21st goals of the season to become the first rookie — and third skater — of the year to hit the benchmark. Blais left is mark in the franchise record book as the first rookie to collect 20 tallies since the 2013-14 season when his teammate Ty Rattie led the club with 31 goals and 48 points. Through three games last week, Blais averaged four shots a game.
The Helsinki, Finland, native returned to the Chicago Wolves lineup on Friday for the first since Feb. 22. Lindbohm also scored the Wolves’ go-ahead goal with 1:51 left in the third period in that contest. On Saturday, the 23-year-old didn’t make the scoresheet but his physical presence and back- checking abilities were felt throughout the game.
Sunday, March 26 Chicago 3, (at) Charlotte 1
- The Wolves snapped their winless skid with a victory against the Checkers.
- Center Wade Megan netted his league-leading 29th goal while Andrew Agozzino and Samuel Blais also tallied.
- Rookie netminder Ville Husso made 29 saves for his ninth win of the season
Saturday, March 25 (at) Charlotte 3, Chicago 2 (SO)
- Chicago dropped its fifth extra-time decision in six games to push its winless streak to a season-high five games.
- Right wing Jordan Caron opened game-scoring near the midway point of the first period while center Wade Megan netted his league-leading 28th goal to force overtime late in the third period.
- Goaltender Jordan Binnington made 16 saves in the loss while Tom McCollum turned aside 30 shots to push his perfect record to 7-0-0.
Wednesday, March 22 (at) Cleveland 2, Chicago 1 (SO)
- The Wolves fell to the Monsters for the third consecutive game.
- Veteran Brett Sterling notched the Wolves’ lone goal in his game since March 11.
- Both Cleveland shooters tallied in the shootout while neither Chicago shooter — Kenny Agostino or Andrew Agozzino — could solve Brad Thiessen.
- Goaltender Jordan Binnington made 32 saves in the loss.
Tuesday, March 21 (at) Cleveland 4, Chicago 1
- Chicago lost their fourth contest of the season to the Monsters at Quicken Loans Arena.
- Right wing Ty Loney scored the Wolves’ lone goal of the game while four different skaters tallied for Cleveland.
- In his second consecutive start, rookie netminder Ville Husso made 24 saves in the loss.
|Friday, March 31||at Iowa*||Wells Fargo Arena||7 p.m. CT|
|Saturday, April 1||vs. Cleveland#||Allstate Arena||7 p.m. CT|
|Sunday, April 2||vs. Charlotte*||Allstate Arena||4 p.m. CT|
|Saturday, April 8||vs. Iowa#||Allstate Arena||7 p.m. CT|
|Sunday, April 9||vs. Rockford#||Allstate Arena||4 p.m. CT|
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Games will be telecast live on CW50 or U Too; visit ChicagoWolves.com for a complete broadcast schedule; all games stream live on AHLLive.com