Friday, May 5 | 7:00 p.m. | Allstate Arena
DON’T GET MAD, GET EVEN
Friday night the Chicago Wolves look to even the Central Division Finals series against the Grand Rapids Griffins. On Wednesday, the Griffins opened Calder Cup Round 2 action with a 4-1 victory over the top-seeded Wolves at Allstate Arena. However, this situation is not unfamiliar for Chicago during the 2017 postseason. In Round 1 against the Charlotte Checkers, the Wolves also suffered a Game 1 loss. The wound seemed worse as the final score was 4-0 after Chicago had just closed the regular season with a 4-3 overtime win against the Checkers. But in Game 2, the Wolves came out strong and scored the game’s opening goal 4:15 into play. Center Alex Friesen scored what would be just his fourth goal for Chicago through regular and postseason action this year but it was a timely, meaningful tally for the Wolves that helped propel the club to a 3-2 win to tie the Central Division Semifinals series 1-1.
SPECIAL TIMES, SPECIAL TEAMS
The Grand Rapids power play paid dividends in Game 1 as the club finished Wednesday’s contest with a 50 percent success rate on the man advantage; Chicago allowed Grand Rapids one power-play goal on two opportunities. During the postseason, the Griffins are 3-for-18 on the power play for a 16.7 percent success rate. That percentage ranks seventh among Calder Cup Playoff teams. Conversely, the Wolves were 0-for-4 during Wednesday’s loss, but still maintain a better postseason rank — fourth — than the Griffs with a 17.6 percent power-play rate. Chicago boasts three power-play tallies in 17 opportunities.
HISTORY STILL WAS MADE
While the Chicago Wolves dropped Game 1 of the Central Division Finals to the Grand Rapids Griffins, the club managed to leave its mark in the Grand Rapids history book. North American rookie netminder Ville Husso made 19 saves against the Griffins in the second period of Wednesday’s game, which matched Grand Rapids’ postseason record for the most saves by an opponent in a single period of a road game. The feat was last accomplished by Jean-Sebastien Aubin on April 28, 2006, when he backstopped the Toronto Marlies in Game 5 of the North Division Semi finals.
A GAME BEFORE THE REST
There are three Calder Cup Playoff games on the docket tonight. While the North (Toronto-Syracuse) and Pacific (San Diego-San Jose) Divisions kick off their best-of-seven finals series, the Chicago Wolves and Grand Rapids Griffins will battle in Game 2 of the Central Division Finals. The clubs kicked off their series two days earlier than the other three Calder Cup second-round series. Even with a four-day gap scheduled between Games 4 and 5 — the longest of any series thus far in the 2017 postseason – the Chicago-Grand Rapids series is slated to wrap a day earlier than the other three sets if they need all seven contests.
By the Numbers
- 2: The Chicago Wolves and Grand Rapids Griffins have a storied postseason rivalry that dates back to the International Hockey League, and twice in the 21 years the two teams have faced each other have their playoff series been decided in a sweep. Most recently in 2004, the Wolves swept the Griffins in a best-of-seven West Division Semifinal. Just a season prior, the Griffins eliminated the defending Calder Cup champions in four games during 2003 the Western Conference Semifinals. For the Wolves, the sweep elimination came after a five-game Western Conference Quarterfinal against the Hershey Bears. For the Griffins, the sweep victory came after eliminating the Wilkes- Barre/Scranton Penguins 3-1 during the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
- 4: After being held off the scoresheet for the first two games of the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs, AHL MVP and regular-season league-leading scorer Kenny Agostino owns six points (3G, 3A) for a four-game postseason scoring streak. His six total points also make him the Chicago Wolves’ leading playoff scorer and part of an eight-way tie for second place on the league’s postseason leaderboard. The 25-year-old ran away with the regular-season scoring title — registering 83 points (24G, 59A) through just 65 games — and finished the season with a 15-point lead on St. John’s forward Chris Terry, the league’s second-best scorer.
- 6: The Chicago Wolves are one of six opponents to boast a winning playoff record versus the Grand Rapids Griffins. With Wednesday’s 4-1 loss, the Wolves are 11-9 in the postseason against Grand Rapids. That record spans both the International and American Hockey Leagues. The Wolves also have played the most postseason games — 20, including Wednesday — against the Griffs. Only Manitoba (11-7) and Toronto (5-11) also have played at least 15 playoff contests against the Griffins. Chicago, Cleveland (4- 2), Manitoba (11-7), Orlando (7-4), Texas (4-2) and Utica (4-2) all have winning postseason records versus Grand Rapids.
- 12: The next Calder Cup Playoff game for Chicago Wolves center Wade Megan will be career playoff game No. 12. The 26-year-old has skated in just three games so far during the postseason for the Wolves, missing Games 4 and 5 of the Central Division Semifinals as well as Game 1 of the Central Division Finals. Through five seasons of AHL action, Megan has appeared in the playoffs in three of those. Though he has a total of 11 playoff games under his belt, Megan has yet to register a point in the postseason. The New York native has logged 12 minutes in penalties along with a -6 plus/minus rating. After having a career year during the regular season, the Wolves will look for Megan to continue his point production in the playoffs to help the team keep their postseason hopes alive
- 41: On Wednesday, left wing Brett Sterling skated in his 41st postseason contest for the Chicago Wolves. The 33-year-old missed all five games of the Central Division Semifinals against the Charlotte Checkers due to injury but healed in time to help the Wolves begin the Central Division Finals on Wednesday. In his first game since April 8, Sterling slotted in at left wing on a line with rookies Conner Bleackley and Bryce Gervais. In his first Calder Cup Playoff game since May 7, 2011, with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Sterling finished the evening with three shots on goal and a -1 plus/minus rating. Held scoreless in the 4-1 loss on Wednesday against the Grand Rapids Griffins, Sterling is in search of his first postseason point since April 30, 2011, when the Penguins routed the Charlotte Checkers 3-0. The California native is also seeking his first postseason victory since May 6, 2011, when the Penguins edged the Checkers 1-0.
Wednesdays, We Play Hockey
- The Griffins took Game 1 of the Central Division Finals over the Wolves.
- Left wing Kenny Agostino was the lone scorer for Chicago.
- Forwards Tyler Bertuzzi (2A), Martin Frk (G, A) and Ben Street (G, A), along with defenseman Nathan Paetsch (2A), all turned in two-point performances for Grand Rapids.
- Chicago rookie netminder Ville Husso made 31 saves in the loss while Grif ns veteran goalkeeper Jared Coreau turned aside 27 shots.
- Chicago held on during a decisive Game 5 of the Central Division Semifinals to move onto the Central Division Finals against the Grand Rapids Griffins.
- Linemates Kenny Agostino and Andrew Agozzino each tallied a power-play goal while rookie Adam Musil netted a short-handed marker.
- Rookie netminder Ville Husso made 32 saves for his first North American postseason series.