Friday, April 21 | 6:15 p.m. | Bojangles’ Coliseum
Looking for a Split
The Chicago Wolves were shut out 4-0 in Game 1 of the 2017 Calder Cup Playoff Central Division Semifinals on Thursday night at Bojangles’ Coliseum. Chicago took penalties early but ultimately ended up with three power plays — including an abbreviated opportunity in the opening minutes of the second period — and could not capitalize on any of them. Rookie center Lucas Wallmark collected three points — including two goals — in the contest while goaltender Tom McCollum made 20 saves for his first career postseason shutout. Tonight, the Wolves look to rally to bring the series home tied a one.
NO. 24 IS BACK IN ACTION
On Thursday morning, defenseman Jordan Schmaltz rejoined the Chicago Wolves after a 19-game absence. On March 1, the 23-year-old was recalled from loan by the St. Louis Blues. Schmaltz made his NHL debut March 5 against the Colorado Avalanche. Three games later, he also registered his first point, an assist, against the same opponent. This season with the Wolves, Schmaltz appeared in 42 games and recorded 25 points (3G, 22A). Even with the lengthy recall, the Verona, Wisconsin, native finished 13th in team scoring and fifth among Chicago defensemen.
GHOSTS OF GAMES PAST
The Charlotte Checkers have two former Chicago Wolves on their roster: right wing Danny Kristo and defenseman Jake Chelios. Kristo, who led the Wolves with 25 goals last season, began this year in Chicago. He was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins organization in an NHL trade on Nov. 19 for defenseman Reid McNeill and played 32 games for Wilkes-Barre/ Scranton, the Penguins’ AHL affiliate, before being traded to the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes on Feb. 23. Chelios played 41 games for Chicago during the 2014-15 season and accrued a goal and 14 assists for 15 points in that span. During the 2013-14 campaign, the 25-year-old skated in seven games for the Wolves after launching his pro career in the ECHL with the Toledo Walleye. He is the son of Hockey Hall of Famer Chris Chelios, who also played for the Wolves in the twilight of his career. They are the only father-son combo to compete for the Wolves.
Chicago Wolves left wing Kenny Agostino and Charlotte Checkers right wing Andrew Miller were teammates at Yale University and helped bring the school its first NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Championship in 2013. But this season, Agostino and Miller have been lining up opposite each other when the Wolves and Checkers battle. So far, Agostino has been the more prolific scorer, putting up 10 points (3G, 7A) through six regular-season games against the Checkers. Miller, on the other hand, has just two goals and an assist in six games against the Wolves. However, Miller is fourth among his teammates in series scoring as no one for Charlotte scored more than seven points. In Thursday night’s 4-0 setback for the Wolves, Miller tallied a goal and an assist while Agostino didn’t make the scoresheet.
By the Numbers
- 1: Thursday night marked Ville Husso’s North American postseason debut. In his first American Hockey League playoff game, he recorded a 4-0 loss with an .885 save percentage and 3.08 goals-against average. While Husso is a greenhorn on the North American circuit, he nearly owned Liiga — Finland’s top league — during the 2016 postseason. Through 15 playoff games with HIFK last season, Husso posted a league second-best .935 save percentage while his goals-against average (1.55) was the best among postseason goaltenders and he collected four shutouts.
- 2: Charlotte Checkers goaltender Tom McCollum registered his second win through five regular-season and postseason games against the Chicago Wolves. McCollum’s first victory against the Wolves came on March 25 at Bojangles’ Coliseum when Charlotte upset the Wolves 3-2 in a shootout. McCollum made 30 saves and turned aside two of three shooters in the shootout. However, the Wolves were responsible for McCollum’s first two losses wearing a Charlotte uniform. On March 26, the Wolves got three goals past McCollum for a 3-1 victory, and on April 4, the Wolves stuffed four goals past McCollum — and added an empty-netter — for a 5-3 victory. Then, in Chicago’s season finale at Allstate Arena, McCollum gave up four goals as the Wolves rallied and Andrew Agozzino tallied in overtime for the 4-3 victory.
- 3: Rookie Lucas Wallmark has been a pain for the Chicago Wolves all season. Through five regular-season games against the Wolves, Wallmark totaled four assists, and in Game 1 of the Central Division Semifinals, Wallmark helped lift the Checkers to a 4-0 victory with two goals and an assist for three points, just one shy of matching his regular-season point total versus Chicago. Right wing Andrew Miller was the other Checkers player to earn multiple points — a goal and an assist — in Thursday night’s game.
- 4: Chicago Wolves alumni Jake Chelios and Danny Kristo have combined for just four points in regular-season competition with their former club. Chelios, a defenseman, has registered a goal and two assists through eight games. On Thursday night, he earned his first postseason point, an assist. Right wing Kristo has an assist through two games. Prior to joining the Checkers on Feb. 23, Kristo spent 32 games with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Kristo skated against the Wolves on March 25 and 26 but missed the April 2 and 15 games in Rosemont due to injury. He returned to the lineup Thursday night and launched one shot.
- 20: The Chicago Wolves mustered just 20 shots on net through three periods in last night’s 4-0 loss to the Charlotte Checkers. The Wolves put just 12 combined shots on goal during the first and second periods. In the third, they did themselves two better for eight shots against Tom McCollum. The Wolves had trouble getting deep into the offensive zone through the game and were forced to take long shots on McCollum, which generated relatively easy saves.
- 100: The Chicago Wolves and Charlotte Checkers were perfect Thursday night on the penalty kill. The Wolves killed off two Checkers man advantages while Charlotte quelled three Wolves tries. However, Charlotte didn’t need any special-teams advantages to net four goals and take the opening game of the Central Division Semifinals 4-0 at Bojangles’ Coliseum.
Last Two vs. Charlotte
- The Checkers blanked the Wolves in the opening game of the Central Division Semifinals of the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs.
- Rookie Lucas Wallmark put up three points (2G, A) while Tom McCollum rejected 20 shots to earn the shutout.
- Wolves rookie netminder Ville Husso stopped 23 of 26 shots in his North American postseason debut.
- The Wolves knocked off the Checkers for their fourth division title in eight years.
- Center Wade Megan netted his 33rd goal of the season that earned him the Willie Marshall Award as the league’s top goal-scorer for 2016-17.
- Veteran Jordan Caron and rookie Samuel Blais both scored to erase Chicago’s 3-1 deficit in the latter half of the third period.
- In the 3-on-3 overtime, Andrew Agozzino tallied the power-play goal for the win.
- Goaltender Jordan Binnington stopped 31 shots to end the regular season with 16 victories.