PERFECT PACIFIC

Last season, the Chicago Wolves were nearly perfect against the Pacific Division and boasted a 7-0-1-0 record.The club’s only blemish, a 4-3 overtime loss, came against the Texas Stars on Feb. 17. However, the Wolves quickly recovered and collected a 4-1 victory the next night for the squad’s 30th win of the year.

GOALTENDERS DUEL

In the 2016-17 head-to-head series finale, goaltenders Jordan Binnington and Justin Peters were save-for-save through 65 minutes of play to keep the Wolves and Stars scoreless heading into the shootout. In the shootout, it was Texas’ Peters who faltered as both Kenny Agostino and Ty Rattie were able to tally for the 1-0 Wolves win.

CHANGING TIDES

The Wolves roster looks significantly different this season and includes some former foes. Maxime Lagace, Teemu Pulkkinen, Alex Tuch and T.J. Tynan all faced Chicago in 2016-17 wearing rival colors. Skating with Cleveland during the 2016-17 campaign, Tynan was productive against the Wolves and registered seven points (4G, 3A) through 10 games. Iowa Wild-turned-Wolves teammates Pulkkinen (2A) and Tuch (3G, 2A) combined for seven points through a 12-game series last season. Lagace was between the pipes with the Texas Stars for one of four games against Chicago. He allowed four goals through 59 minutes of play, and the Wolves skated away with a 4-3 victory on Nov. 30.

Familiar Faces, Different Places

The Wolves roster looks significantly different this season and includes some former foes. Maxime Lagace, Teemu PulkkinenAlex Tuch and T.J. Tynan all faced Chicago in 2016-17 wearing rival colors. Skating with Cleveland during the 2016-17 campaign, Tynan was productive against the Wolves and registered seven points (4G, 3A) through 10 games. Iowa Wild-turned-Wolves teammates Pulkkinen (2A) and Tuch (3G, 2A) combined for seven points through a 12-game series last season. Lagace was between the pipes with the Texas Stars for one of four games against Chicago. He allowed four goals through 59 minutes of play, and the Wolves skated away with a 4-3 victory on Nov. 30.

By the Numbers:

  • 7: The Chicago Wolves 2017-18 Opening Night roster includes seven rookies, two fewer than last season. Jake Bischoff, Oscar Dansk, Keegan Kolesar, Curtis Leonard, Dmitry OsipovJake Walman and Tyler Wong are all considered first-year skaters in the AHL. With just seven regular-season games under his belt, Walman returns to the Wolves and retains his rookie status. Kolesar, Osipov and Wong all hail from the Western Hockey League and will skate with the Wolves for the first time. The 20-year-olds, Kolesar and Osipov, will both make their professional hockey debuts tonight while Wong will skate in his fourth AHL contest. He made his pro debut with the Toronto Marlies during the 2015-16 season and appeared in three games. Bischoff skated in six games last season with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers following the conclusion of his senior season at the University of Minnesota. After a strong training camp that earned him a contract, Leonard will skate in his second AHL game. The 25-year-old appeared in one game for the Rochester Americans during the 2014-15 campaign. Dansk spent the 2014-15 campaign with the AHL’s Springfield Falcons and backstopped the team for 21 games.
  • 8: Chicago’s 2017-18 roster includes eight returning players: Jordan Binnington, Conner Bleackley, Bryce Gervais, Petteri LindbohmMackenzie MacEachern, Brett Sterling, Scooter Vaughan and Jake Walman. At the AHL level, defenseman Lindbohm has played exclusively for the Wolves since making his debut in 2014-15. Bleackley, Gervais and MacEachern shed their rookie monikers while Walman rejoins the Wolves still below the 25-game rookie threshold. The 33-year-old Sterling returns to Chicago for his seventh season with the club. Sterling has his name all over the Wolves franchise record book and was part of the 2008 Calder Cup champion squad. Binnington was in net for Chicago 32 times last season and registered back-to-back shutouts that included a 30-save performance against the Stars on March 15.
  • 29: The 2017-18 National Hockey League regular season opened on Wednesday, and 29 former Wolves were announced on NHL Opening Night rosters. Vince Dunn and Tage Thompson, who made their NHL debuts on Wednesday, both skated with Chicago last season. Dunn was the American Hockey League’s top-scoring rookie defenseman and the Wolves ‘leading rookie scorer with 13 goals and 32 assists for 45 points in 72 games. Thompson joined the Wolves on an amateur tryout contract following the conclusion of his sophomore season at the University of Connecticut. Ivan Barbashev (St. Louis), Brad Hunt (Vegas), Wade Megan (St. Louis) Magnus Paajarvi (St. Louis) and Zach Sanford (St. Louis) all donned Wolves uniforms last season. Twelve of the 29 alumni skated for the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday. Arizona, Boston, Buffalo, Calgary, Colorado, Dallas, Edmonton, Florida, N.Y. Rangers, Tampa Bay, Vancouver, Washington and Winnipeg each have at least one former Wolves player on their Opening Night register.
  • 101: The Wolves finished last season with a 44-19-8-5 record for 101 points and marked the franchise’s first 100-point season since 2013-14. It came down to the wire, but the Wolves were able to edge the Grand Rapids Griffins by one point to take the Central Division title. The club has earned six division titles since joining the American Hockey League in 2001 and eight since being founded in 1994.

Preseason Review

Friday, Sept. 29 | (at) Chicago 4, Rockford 3

  • The Wolves opened preseason play with a win over their in-state rival, the IceHogs.
  • Chicago and Rockford traded goals in the first, but the Wolves pulled ahead 4-2 in the middle frame with goals from Travis Ewanyk, Nelson Gadoury and Brett Sterling.
  • The IceHogs netted a tally at 8:09 of the third to climb back within a goal.
  • Goaltender Oscar Dansk turned aside 7 shots through 39:46 of play before being relieved by C.J. Motte, who made 15 saves.

Saturday, Sept. 30 | Chicago 3, (at) Milwaukee 1

  • Chicago finished preseason play undefeated with a victory against Milwaukee.
  • Veteran Brett Sterling accounted for two of three Wolves goals and newcomer Kenney Morrison netted the other to open game scoring at 9:44 of the first period.
  • The Wolves jumped out to a 2-0 in the first and the Admirals pulled within a goal at 7:45 of the third before Sterling notched the insurance marker.
  • Goaltender Maxime Lagace stopped 30 of 31 shots he faced for the victory.