Saturday, May 6 | 6:00 p.m. | Van Andel Arena | Central Division Finals Tied 1-1
After squaring the series 1-1 with a 7-3 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins on Friday night at Allstate Arena, the Central Division Finals moves to Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids for Games 3 and 4. Through four previous playoff series, the Wolves have collected a 6-4 record against the Griffins on the road. Chicago’s .600 win percentage on the road is slightly better than their .545 postseason win percentage — a 5-6 record that include this season’s two contests — against the Griffins on home ice. The Wolves and Griffins clashed 10 times during the regular season and five times at the Griffins’ confines. However, Chicago was able to top the Griffins only once — 4-2 on Nov. 5 — at The Van.
ROOKIES CAME TO REIGN
The Chicago Wolves’ first-year class again shined in Friday night’s 7-3 win against the Grand Rapids Griffins. Three skaters — Mackenzie MacEachern (GWG), Tage Thompson and Vince Dunn — each registered a goal and an assist while Jake Walman contributed a power-play goal. Those four skaters, along with Wolves’ top-scoring rookie Samuel Blais, accounted for eight of the 16 points logged by Chicago in the victory. Appearing in their first AHL postseason, Kenny Agostino (2A), Andrew Agozzino (G) and Ty Loney (2A) nabbed another five of those 16 points. Rookie goaltender Ville Husso has backstopped the Wolves through all seven postseason games. In 426 minutes between the pipes, the 22-year-old Husso has posted a 4-3 record in addition to a 2.54 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage.
IT’S NOT HOW YOU START…
So far in the Central Division Finals, the Wolves have compiled most of their goals in the first and third frames of competition. Through two games, Chicago has netted four markers in each of those periods. However, all four of the Wolves’ third-period tallies came in Friday’s 7-3 rout against the Grand Rapids Griffins. During the regular-season series against the Griffins, the Wolves weren’t offensively gifted in the opening frame of action as they netted just four goals in 10 games. The middle frame was more competitive as both the Griffins and Wolves scored 13 goals apiece. In the third period, the Griffins held a 11-10 edge in scoring and they owned the 3-on-3 overtime frame as they won all three of the extra-time contests.
By the Numbers
- 0: Only three skaters that have appeared in at least two Calder Cup Playoff games for the Chicago Wolves have yet to register a point. Rookie Conner Bleackley has skated in two games while fellow first-year Bryce Gervais has dressed for six contests. AHL First-Star Team center Wade Megan — who made his return Friday night after missing three games due to injury — hasn’t logged a point through four postseason tilts. Bleackley and Gervais — along with defenseman Kevin Tansey, who has appeared in a single game — are the only rookies yet to record a point in the postseason for Chicago. So far, novice skaters have collected 22 points for the Wolves.
- 1: On Friday night, rookies Mackenzie MacEachern and Tage Thompson each registered their first professional playoff point with assists on the Chicago Wolves’ first two goals of the game. MacEachern clocked in at 3:10 of the first frame with the secondary helper on Petteri Lindbohm’s marker while Thompson collected his assist at 9:44 of the session when he aided Brett Sterling on his first American Hockey League postseason tally since 2011.
- +5: Rookie Mackenzie MacEachern’s +5 plus/minus rating leads all Chicago Wolves skaters in the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs. The 23-year-old collected a +3 plus/minus rating in last night’s 7-3 rout against the Grand Rapids Griffins, and that rating is the single-game high for any Wolves skater through seven Calder Cup Playoff games. MacEachern also registered a goal and an assist in yesterday’s contest for his first professional postseason points. MacEachern has skated on a line centered by Alex Friesen and Samuel Blais on the right wing through six games. Scooter Vaughan replaced Blais — he moved to the second line — on Friday as he returned from injury for his 2017 playoff debut.
- 6: Friday’s 7-3 Chicago Wolves victory included six special teams goals. Five of those markers were power-play tallies while one was a short-handed marker. Late in the third period, Andrew Agozzino netted Chicago’s second shortie of the postseason on a Grand Rapids turnover. The Wolves collected three power-play tallies — the same amount as they scored during the entire five-game first-round series against the Charlotte Checkers — including a 5-on-3 marker in the final 3:30 of the game. Grand Rapids mustered two man-advantage tallies; one during the second period and one in the third.
- 2195: Prior to Brett Sterling’s goal at 9:44 of the first period in Friday night’s 7-3 romp over the Grand Rapids Griffins, the veteran wing hadn’t scored in Calder Cup Playoff action since April 30, 2011. That’s a 2,195-day gap between AHL postseason tallies for the 33-year-old. Sterling last appeared in the American Hockey League postseason with the Wilkes-Barre/ Scranton Penguins when the club bowed out of the 2011 Calder Cup playoffs in six games against the Charlotte Checkers during the East Division Finals. Sterling collected six points (2G, 4A) though 12 games that spring. Before rejoining Chicago Wolves and the AHL over the summer, Sterling skated two seasons in the Austrian Hockey League for EC Red Bull Salzburg and helped the club capture back-to-back championships in 2015 and 2016.
Round 2 Review:
Friday, May 5 (at) Chicago 7, Grand Rapids 3
- Chicago took a 3-0 lead and added four third-period goals to rout Grand Rapids and even the Central Division Finals at one game apiece.
- Rookies accounted for eight points — and three goals — in the contest.
- Forwards Kenny Agostino (2A), Ty Loney (2A), Mackenzie MacEachern (G, A) and Tage Thompson (G, A), as well as defenseman Vince Dunn (G, A), all turned in two-point performances.
- Forward Andrew Agozzino netted a short-handed marker while Brett Sterling collected his first AHL postseason tally since 2011 and defenseman Petteri Lindbohm also scored.
- Rookie netminder Ville Husso turned aside 28 shots in the victory while Chicago handed Griffins goalie Jared Coreau his first loss of the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs.
- 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 Griffins veteran goalkeeper Jared Coreau turned aside 27 shots.
Follow The Action
Stream Saturday’s Central Division Final on www.ahllive.com and Facebook. Follow @Chicago_Wolves on Twitter for live in-game play-by-play.