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.
Fountain of Youth
With as many as nine rookies on the roster at any time, the Chicago Wolves’ success is in part due to the growth and development of their less-experienced players. First-year skaters are accounting for nearly a quarter of the Wolves’ offense.
In Sunday’s 5-3 victory against the Charlotte Checkers, first-year skaters recorded three of Chicago’s five goals, and rookie netminder Ville Husso made 36 saves. Defenseman Jake Walman netted his first professional goal that stood as the game-winner in the tilt. Defenseman Vince Dunn opened game scoring and Bryce Gervais — awarded the Tim Breslin Unsung Hero Award before the game — gave the Wolves a 2-0 lead. In net, the 22-year-old Husso turned aside 36 shots to backstop his team to victory.
Dunn is leading the entire rookie class, as well as the team defense corps, in scoring with 41 points (13G, 28A). He’s the first Wolves rookie since his teammate Ty Rattie during the 2013-14 season to reach the 40-point mark. He’s also tied with Bridgeport’s Devon Toews for the top spot among league defensive rookies in scoring.
Samuel Blais is not far behind Dunn with 38 points. He leads the rookies in goal-scoring with 22 tallies and that’s enough to share second in overall team goal-scoring. The Quebec native is fourth among league first-years in goals.
Gervais and Mackenzie MacEachern have been key role-players this season with a lot of their contributions not showing up on the scoresheets. MacEachern has been a consistent presence on the Wolves’ fourth line. Both he and Gervais play with an edge that allows them to get under opponents’ skin.
The newest additions to the roster — forward Tage Thompson and Walman — are meshing well with the club. Over the weekend, both netted their first pro goals. On Saturday, Thompson sniped a one-time shot from the slot while on his knee. On Sunday, Walman scored on a nearly identical goal from the center point.
Last, but not least, Husso has been impressive in his first season on North American soil. The native of Finland has an 11-6-1 record through 19 games, as well as a team-leading 2.38 goals-against average and .920 save percentage. Those numbers place him in the top- 10 of both categories among AHL rookie goalies.
The Wolves will look to the rookies to continue their success as they head into the final five games of the regular season and hope to make a push for the Central Division crown. Right now, Chicago is just behind the Grand Rapids Griffins for the top spot. With three games against the Iowa Wild, one against the Checkers and one against the Rockford IceHogs, the Wolves could turn the odds in their favor.
The 20-year-old netted a goal and two assists through three games last weekend and piled up eight shots on goal. On Friday, he also became the first Wolves rookie to reach the 40-point plateau since Ty Rattie did so during his first-year campaign in 2013-14. His goal on Sunday pulled him into a tie for first place with Devon Toews for the American Hockey League rookie defensemen scoring lead. Through 67 games this season with the Chicago Wolves, Dunn has 13 goals and 28 assists for 41 points. The former Niagara IceDog also leads Chicago’s rookie class — and the Wolves defensive corps — in points. Dunn is also leading the Wolves’ first- year skaters – along with Bryce Gervais — logging +14 plus/minus rating.
Last weekend, the rookie netminder started two of the Chicago Wolves’ three contests and posted two wins to push his current win streak to three games. Husso finished those two games with a .954 save percentage and a 1.50 goals- against average. The native of Finland also made 26 saves in Friday’s contests against the Iowa Wild to record his first American Hockey League shutout. In his North American rookie campaign, Husso has recorded an 11- 6-1 record through 19 games with a 2.38 goals-against average and .920 save percentage. Both his save percentage and goals-against average lead active Wolves goaltenders.
The New York native picked up four points (2G, 2A) through three games last week. His goals were Nos. 30 and 31 on the season, making him the first player in the American Hockey League to reach the benchmarks. Megan also held sole possession the league lead in goals until Sunday when the Milwaukee Admirals’Pontus Åberg netted two tallies to pull even with Megan and share the lead. The former Boston University Terriers captain also pushed his current scoring streak to five games and six points (4G, 2A).
- Chicago defeated Charlotte for its third consecutive victory at Allstate Arena in the season series.
- Rookies Vince Dunn and Bryce Gervais scored while first-year Jake Walman netted his first professional goal in just his second career game.
- Centers Alex Friesen and Brad Malone also tallied.
- Rookie netminder Ville Husso made 36 saves for the victory.
Saturday, April 1 Cleveland 5, (at) Chicago 2
- The Wolves dropped their eighth game to the Monsters and finished the season series with a 4-4-2-2 record.
- Center Wade Megan collected his league-leading 31st goal and 19-year-old Tage Thompson netted his first professional goal.
- Goaltender Jordan Binnington made 30 saves in the loss.
Friday, March 31 Chicago 4, (at) Iowa 0
- 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.
|Saturday, April 8||vs. Iowa#||Allstate Arena||7 p.m. CT|
|Sunday, April 9||vs. Rockford#||Allstate Arena||4 p.m. CT|
|Thursday, April 13||at Iowa^||Wells Fargo||7 p.m. CT|
|Friday, April 14||at Iowa*||Wells Fargo||7 p.m. CT|
|Saturday, April 15||vs. Charlotte#||Allstate Arena||7 p.m. CT|
^ AHL Live and Facebook only, * U Too, # CW50
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