April 1 | 7:00 p.m. | Allstate Arena
SECOND SEASON SECURED
On Friday night, the Chicago Wolves punched their postseason ticket for the 18th time in their 23-year history with a 4-0 victory over the Iowa Wild. Rookie goaltender Ville Husso made 26 saves to ensure the win and earn his first American Hockey League shutout. Wade Megan broke the scoreless tie early in the third period with his league-leading 30th goal and Kenny Agostino — the AHL’s leading scorer — registered a goal and an assist to bring his point total to 79. The Central Division race tightened as well as the division- leading Grand Rapids Griffins fell to the Charlotte Checkers 4-1. The loss allowed Chicago to pull within one point (91-90) of the Griffins, though Grand Rapids holds one game in hand. Chicago has potential to claim its sixth division title, but needs to win the majority of its final seven games to have a chance to take the crown.
ONE TO GO
Saturday marks the final game of 12 between the Chicago Wolves and Cleveland Monsters this season. Surely, the Wolves aren’t sad this is the final time they’ll see the Monsters for the 2016-17 regular season because Cleveland has been a burr under Chicago’s saddle all year. The reigning Calder Cup champions lead the season series over the Wolves with a 7-4-0-0 record, though series scoring is gridlocked at 29 goals each. Five of the 11 games have been decided by just one goal and four of those contests needed extra time — two ended in overtime and two ended in a shootout. Alas, Chicago has lost all four of those tilts. This will be the fourth season series to close for the Wolves; they’ve already wrapped sets with the Grand Rapids Griffins (2-5-3-0), Manitoba Moose (2-2-0-0) and Milwaukee Admirals (7-3-1-1). The Wolves, who have six games to play after tonight, will continue to influence the race for the final Central Division playoff spot as they face the Charlotte Checkers twice more and the Iowa Wild three times. There is also one final tilt at Allstate Arena with their Illinois Lottery Cup rival, the Rockford IceHogs.
SHORT-HANDED? NO PROBLEM
Special teams have de ned this season series between the Chicago Wolves and Cleveland Monsters. The Monsters’ penalty kill is skating along at 88.6 percent while the Wolves are less than one percentage point behind with an 87.9 success rate. Additionally, Cleveland has registered two short-handed tallies and the Wolves have collected one in head-to- head competition. Of course, if the penalty kills are ring on all cylinders, the power plays have not been in the greatest shape. Each team has only netted four man-advantage markers, and each club has one multi-PPG game. Cleveland has been slightly better with a 12.1 percent power-play rate, and Chicago is on its heels with a 11.4 percent success rate.
By the Numbers
- 20.2: Samuel Blais, the Chicago Wolves leading rookie goal-getter, is also the team’s leading shooter — with at least 100 shots on goal to his credit — with a 20.2 percent shooting percentage. The 20-year-old’s 22 goals — tied for second-best on the team with Kenny Agostino — have come on just 109 shots. The Quebec native has been one of the best players in Chicago’s deep 2016-17 rookie class. He is two points behind the team’s leading rookie scorer — defenseman Vince Dunn — with 37 points. He ranks fifth in team scoring and is one of six players to reach the 30-point plateau this year. He and Dunn are looking to become the first Wolves rookies to reach the 40-point mark since teammate Ty Rattie led the Wolves in scoring with 31 goals and 48 points during his rookie campaign in 2013-14.
- 30: Center Wade Megan is the first player in the American Hockey League to reach 30 goals during the 2016-17 season. The league’s leading goal-scorer opened scoring in the third period of Friday night’s 4-0 victory against the Iowa Wild at Wells Fargo Arena. The 26-year-old is having a career year, smashing all of his previous personal- bests in points, goals and assists. His 30 goals more than doubles his previous AHL career-high (14). Megan has also grown into a more complete player this season with his offensive flourish. Last season, the New York native led the American Hockey League in short-handed goals (7) and was a defensive dynamo. This season, head coach Craig Berube has rewarded Megan with time in all situations and he’s continued to take advantage of the opportunities.
- 80: Left wing Kenny Agostino is one point shy of the 80-point mark. If he can reach the plateau, he will become the first Wolves player to do so since Jason Krog tallied 112 points during the 2007-08 season. Agostino’s 79 points (22G, 57A) make him the Wolves’ highest scoring player since that season. Between 2007-08 and now, the 24-year-old Agostino is one of just four players to collect at least 70 points in a season for Chicago. Krog did it twice with 75 points (2009-10, 2010-11) while Brett Sterling notched 71 in 2007-08 and Darren Haydar finished second in team scoring — one point behind Krog — with 74 during the 2010-11 campaign. Agostino leads the league by a wide margin in both points and assists (57). Those 57 helpers are the most for a Chicago player since Krog collected 61 during the 2009-10 campaign.
- 140: Friday, Ty Rattie netted his 140th point while wearing a Chicago Wolves uniform. The tally allowed him to take sole possession of the No. 18 spot on the Wolves franchise scoring list. The Alberta native has played his entire American Hockey League career with Chicago. During his rookie season — 2013-14 — Rattie led the team in scoring with 31 goals and 48 points. That year, Rattie finished eighth among league rookies in scoring and tied with Teemu Pulkkinen for the first-year goal-scoring lead. This season, Rattie has only appeared 24 contests — AHL and NHL — split between the Carolina Hurricanes, St. Louis Blues and Wolves. In that span he has two goals and four assists for six points.
- 500: Saturday marks American Hockey League Game No. 500 for left wing Brett Sterling. It’s another milestone in Sterling’s impressive career. Just this season, the 32-year-old cracked the franchise top-10 games list and is now in the No. 8 spot, he moved into the sixth position on the Wolves all-time assist list and is within five points of Jason Krog for the No. 4 spot on the franchise scoring list. Sterling also boasts 235 career AHL goals — No. 1 among active players — and is just two markers shy of joining the league’s top-50 goal-scorer list. The California native already has earned a number of accolades including a Calder Cup (2008), but Sunday he gets to add another: bobblehead. The Chicago Wolves are celebrating Sterling’s career by bobble-sizing him and allowing the first 2,500 fans inside Allstate Arena to take home a mini-Brett.
- Chicago clinched a Calder Cup Playoff bid for the 18th time in its 23-year history.
- Center Wade Megan collected his league-leading 30th goal while left wing Kenny Agostino picked up points No. 78 and 79 to continue leading the league in scoring.
- Defenseman Petteri Lindbohm and forward Ty Rattie also scored in the win.
- Rookie netminder Ville Husso posted 26 saves for his first AHL shutout.