Wednesday, April 26 | 7:00 p.m. | Allstate Arena
All Comes Down To This
Wednesday night is the decisive game in this best-of-five Central Division Semifinals series between the fourth-seeded Charlotte Checkers and the top-seeded Chicago Wolves. The winner of tonight’s contest will move on to the Central Division Finals and face the victor of the Grand Rapids Griffins-Milwaukee Admirals series. Grand Rapids leads that series 2-0 and is in Milwaukee tonight with the chance to sweep. In the Checkers-Wolves series, Chicago twice has come back from one-game deficits, including Tuesday’s night 5-1 victory in Game 4 to knot the series 2-2. This marks the sixth winner-take-all Game 5 in Wolves history and the organization owns a 3-2 mark in this circumstance, which includes wins in 2002, 2003 and 2014.
IRONMEN IN NET
Rookie Ville Husso and eight-year American Hockey League veteran Tom McCollum have backstopped the Chicago Wolves and Charlotte Checkers, respectively through all four games of the Central Division Semifinals series. The 22-year-old Husso is in his first season of hockey on North American soil, and during his first postseason here, he has posted a 2-1-1 record with a 2.42 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage through a league leading 246:43 of play. Appearing in the Calder Cup Playoffs for the fourth time in his career, McCollum has posted a 2-2 record with a .922 save percentage and a 2.44 goals-against average through a league second-best 246:03 minutes of play.
MEANWHILE, IN MILWAUKEE…
After being idle for the last two nights, tonight marks Game 3 in the Central Division Semifinals series between the second-seeded Grand Rapids Griffins and third-seeded Milwaukee Admirals. After the Griffins took both games at Van Andel Arena, the series moves to UWM Panther Arena where the Grand Rapids have a chance to sweep the Admirals. In Game 1, the Griffs’ Tomas Nosek was the Hero After Zero, and in Game 2, Tyler Bertuzzi tallied two goals en route to a 5-2 Griffins win. If Grand Rapids can finish the series tonight the scene will be set for the Central Division Finals as they would face the victor of the Charlotte Checkers-Chicago Wolves contest.
By the Numbers
- 1: In Tuesday’s Game 4, the Chicago Wolves power play came through and netted a goal at 19:03 of the third period for the first man-advantage marker of the series. The Charlotte Checkers and Chicago have had a combined 16 opportunities on the power play this series, but had yet to convert until the final 57 seconds Tuesday when Wolves right wing Ty Rattie tallied his second goal of the contest. With the tally, the Wolves power play improved to 11.1 percent while Checkers penalty kill sank to 88.9 percent after being perfect through three games. Conversely, Chicago’s penalty kill is still perfect through 7 attempts and the Checkers have yet to convert on a man advantage.
- 2: Rookie defenseman Jake Walman has been scratched for two of the four games in this series. Yesterday, after a two-game absence, Walman hit the ice and made his presence known, scoring what would stand as the game-winning goal 1:58 into the third period. He’s one of four rookies and one of seven defensemen with at least a point in the series for the Wolves.
- 3: The American Hockey League’s top three postseason scoring rookies are playing in the Charlotte Checkers-Chicago Wolves series. First-year center Lucas Wallmark leads the AHL rookie class with three goals and three assists for six points through four games. Wolves rookies Samuel Blais and Adam Musil rank second best in the league with two goals and two assists apiece.
- 6: This Central Division Semifinals series marks the sixth consecutive time that the Wolves have needed all five games to determine a winner in a best-of-five Calder Cup Playoffs series. In the five previous occurrences, all of the series were Western Conference Quarterfinals. In 2002, the Wolves won Game 5 at Grand Rapids as part of the team’s run to the Calder Cup championship. In 2003, the Wolves defeated Hershey in overtime at home to take a Western Conference Quarterfinal. In 2012, the Wolves suffered a double-overtime loss to San Antonio at Allstate Arena. In 2014, the Wolves claimed a 4-2 home win over Rochester. In 2015, the Wolves dropped a 4-2 decision at Utica.
- 11: The Charlotte Checkers and Chicago Wolves each have scored and allowed 11 goals through four games. In a Central Division Semifinals series deadlocked at two games apiece, it’s fitting that the teams’ totals are so close. Goaltenders Ville and Tom McCollum also have nearly identical goals-against averages. Husso’s 2.42 average is .02 better than McCollum’s 2.44. The 22-year-old Husso has made 116 saves while 27-year-old McCollum has registered 119 saves.
- 26: The Wolves have played at home twice before on April 26. In 2000, the Wolves opened the Turner Cup Playoffs with a 3-1 victory over Grand Rapids that featured a game-winning goal by defenseman Glen Featherstone. In 2010, the Wolves defeated Milwaukee 2-1 in a Western Conference Quarterfinal Game 7 as Kevin Doell’s first-period goal held up as the game-winner.
- 30.3: Novice skaters have accounted for almost a third — 30.3 percent — of points scored by the Chicago Wolves so far in the Charlotte Checkers-Chicago Central Division Semifinals series. First-year skaters Samuel Blais and Adam Musil are leading Chicago in scoring with two goals and two assists for four points apiece. Rookie defensemen Vince Dunn and Jake Walman each recorded a point in Tuesday’s 5-1 victory over the Checkers.
- 45.5: Chicago Wolves blueliners have accounted for nearly half — 45.5 percent — of team scoring. Defenders Chris Butler and Jordan Schmaltz are tied for the team lead in scoring with four points each. Schmaltz boasts a goal and three assists while captain Butler has four helpers — and all of those points have come in the Wolves’ pair of home games in this series. Additionally, Petteri Lindbohm and James Wisniewski each have two assists, and rookies Vince Dunn and Jake Walman each recorded a point in Tuesday’s game.
Previous Calder Cup Play
Tuesday, April 25 (at) Chicago 5, Charlotte 1
- The Wolves scored four third-period goals to force Game 5 in the Central Division Semifinals.
- Right wing Ty Rattie netted two goals – including the first power-play goal of the series – while Samuel Blais, Jordan Schmaltz and Jake Walman also tallied.
- Rookie netminder Ville Husso made 26 saves in the win
- Charlotte held on for the overtime victory and took a 2-1 series lead in the best-of-five Central Division Semifinals.
- The Checkers jumped out a 2-0 in the first period, but the Wolves rallied in the opening minutes of the second frame as forwards Kenny Agostino and Adam Musil both scored to even the game, 2-2.
- In the third, Charlotte scored first but Chicago quickly responded when right wing Ty Loney tallied to even the game again.
- In overtime, Charlotte’s Connor Brickley netted the game winner at 9:28.
- Rookie goalie Ville Husso made 30 saves in just his third North American playoff start.
Follow The Action
Wednesdays’s Central Division Semifinal beings at 7:00 p.m on The U Too. It can also be streamed on www.ahllive.com and Facebook. Follow @Chicago_Wolves on Twitter for live in-game play-by-play.