Saturday, April 15 | 7:00 p.m. | Allstate Arena
SATURDAY’S TITLE CHANCES
Though the Chicago Wolves dropped Friday night’s game against the Iowa Wild 3-2 in overtime, the point earned allowed them to stay atop the Central Division. However, the Grand Rapids Griffins mustered an overtime win on a goal from Eric Tangradi against the Charlotte Checkers to move within one point of the Wolves. If Chicago wins tonight, then it clinches the division. If the Wolves lose in extra time, then Grand Rapids takes the division if it wins at Milwaukee. If the Wolves lose in regulation, then the Griffins also must lose in regulation for Chicago to win its fourth division crown in eight years. The Wolves can’t know the identity of their Calder Cup playoff first-round opponent (either Charlotte, Cleveland or Milwaukee) until the end of tonight’s action at Allstate Arena.
INDIVIDUAL AWARD, TEAM EFFORT
On Friday, the American Hockey League announced Chicago Wolves left wing Kenny Agostino as the recipient of the Les Cunningham Award as the league’s Most Valuable Player for the 2016-17 season. Agostino has spent the majority of the season leading the AHL in scoring by a substantial margin. With 24 goals and 59 assists for 83 points entering the final day of the regular season, he holds a 16-point lead on the league’s No. 2 scorer. The gap is the largest margin atop the league’s scoring leaderboard in nearly 10 years. The 24-year-old also leads the AHL in assists by 11 helpers. A true team player, Agostino credits his stellar performance this season to his “unbelievable” coaches and “great” teammates. The Morristown, New Jersey, native is enjoying a career year, surpassing his previous bests in points (57), goals (23) and assists (34).
FRONT AND CENTER
The 20-year-old Adam Musil made his professional debut Friday night and centered the Chicago Wolves’ fourth line with Bryce Gervais and Tage Thompson on the wings. On April 10, Musil was reassigned by the St. Louis Blues to the Wolves after his junior team, the Red Deer Rebels, lost a seven-game series against the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the opening round of the Western Hockey League Playoffs. St. Louis selected Musil in the fourth round, 94th overall, of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. On March 30, 2016, the same day as Wolves teammate Mackenzie MacEachern, Musil signed an three-year entry-level contract with the Blues. Musil is also familiar with Conner Bleackley — also reassigned by the Blues to Chicago on April 10 — as the pair skated together three full seasons and part of a fourth for Red Deer.
DOWN TO THE WIRE
If the Chicago Wolves win the division title, then they’ll claim the top seed in the Central Division semifinals and face the No. 4 seed in the opening round. The Cleveland Monsters hold a two-point lead over the Charlotte Checkers for that No. 4 spot, but the Checkers have two games remaining compared to the Monsters’ one. Charlotte also holds the tiebreaker over Cleveland. If the Monsters get one more point from their Friday night home game against the Manitoba Moose than Charlotte collects from its road game in Grand Rapids, then the Monsters will clinch the division’s final playoff spot. Conversely, the Checkers also can clinch the No. 4 spot on Friday night. If Charlotte defeats the Grand Rapids Griffins, and the Monsters lose in regulation to Manitoba, then Charlotte gets the last spot in the Central.
By the Numbers
- 2: All but two skaters on the Chicago Wolves roster have a positive plus/minus rating. Center Conner Bleackley and right wing Ty Rattie have logged -3 and -2 ratings, respectively. Since being reassigned to the Wolves on April10, Bleackley has appeared in one game. Prior to being reassigned to the Missouri Mavericks (ECHL) on March 10, Bleackley skated in 44 games for the Wolves and collected 10 points (2G, 8A). Rattie began the 2016-17 season in the NHL with the St. Louis Blues and skated with Chicago for three games on a conditioning assignment from Nov. 9-12. Upon being reassigned to the AHL full-time, Rattie was claimed off waivers by the Carolina Hurricanes on Jan. 4. Six weeks later, he returned to the Wolves when the Blues claimed him off waivers when Carolina attempted to send him to their AHL affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers.
- 1: One point is all the Charlotte Checkers need to claim the fourth and final Calder Cup Playoff spot in the Central Division. On Friday, an overtime goal by veteran Eric Tangradi gave the Grand Rapids Griffins a 3-2 victory over Charlotte and stalled the Checkers’ postseason hopes. If Charlotte can force tonight’s game into extra time or win in regulation, then they punch their ticket to the postseason for the first time since 2013. However, the Cleveland Monsters — who finished their regular season with a 1-0 loss to the Manitoba Moose Friday night — will be rooting for the Wolves to beat the Checkers in regulation as that would secure the final playoff spot for the reigning Calder Cup champions.
- 2: On March 26 and April 2, the Chicago Wolves posted victories and handed goaltender Tom McCollum his first two losses in a Charlotte Checkers uniform. The March 26 loss ended his win streak at seven games. and was a 3-1 rebound win, following a 3-2 shootout loss the previous night. The second victory was the kicker on a 3-in-3 weekend in which the Wolves finished 2-1-0-0. Since March 26, McCollum has posted a 5-2-2 record.
- 14: Left wing Kenny Agostino has assisted on 14 of center Wade Megan’s 32 goals this season. The duo have played together on the Chicago Wolves’ top line the majority of the season, and both have been highly productive. Named as the American Hockey League’s Most Valuable Player for the 2016-17 season, Agostino has led the league in scoring by a substantial margin for most of the year and owns 83 points (24G, 59A) through 65 games. Additionally, he leads the league in assists. On the other hand, Megan collected his 32nd goal of the season on Thursday and shares the league lead with Hartford’s Nicklas Jensen, who made his AHL debut with the Wolves in 2011-12.
- 28: Of the 31 players on the Chicago Wolves roster, 28 have appeared in at least one game this season for the club. Gearing up for the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs, Chicago is padding its roster. This week, the Wolves added four players to their register: Conner Bleackley, Reid Duke, Adam Musil and Tommy Vannelli. Duke joined the Wolves on an amateur tryout contract on April 7 while Bleackley and Musil were reassigned from the Missouri Mavericks (ECHL) and Red Deer Rebels (WHL), respectively, by the St. Louis Blues on April 10. Two days later, St. Louis also reassigned Vannelli from the Atlanta Gladiators (ECHL) to Chicago. Initially signed to a professional tryout contract on Feb. 6, right wing Ty Loney signed a standard player contract on April 6 with the Wolves.
- 100: If the Chicago Wolves can pull out a win or send the game to extra time, they will finish the 2016-17 regular season with 100 points. It would mark the ninth time in the franchise’s 23-year history that the Wolves hit the century mark. If Chicago can collect a regulation victory — giving them 101 points — the team would post its best winning percentage since the 2007-08 squad posted a .694 win percentage on its way to the Calder Cup championship.
- 147: The Chicago Wolves’ top duo of Kenny Agostino and Wade Megan have combined for 147 points this season. Agostino leads the league in scoring and assists with 83 points and 59 assists. Both skaters are having career years, surpassing all their offensive personal benchmarks and plus/minus ratings. Agostino and Megan lead the Wolves with matching +24 ratings.
Last Two Lookback
- Chicago suffered an overtime setback against Iowa and halted the Wolves’ season- series win streak at eight games.
- Left wing Samuel Blais and defenseman Morgan Ellis each posted a goal and an assist in the loss.
- Iowa’s Alex Tuch tallied just 13 seconds into the extra frame for the victory.
- Rookie netminder Ville Husso turned aside 31 shots in his second OT loss of the year.