Saturday, Oct. 14 | 7:00 p.m. | Allstate Arena
The Chicago Wolves and Ontario Reign are meeting for the first time since the Reign joined the American Hockey League ahead of the 2015-16 campaign. The Reign are one of four new Pacific Division opponents for the Wolves this season; the Bakersfield Condors, San Diego Gulls and Tucson Roadrunners also will make their maiden voyages to Allstate Arena. In second half of the season, a week-long West Coast road trip will send the Wolves to California for the first time in nearly 20 years. That trip includes contests with Bakersfield, Ontario and San Diego.
Last time the Chicago Wolves faced the Los Angeles Kings’ American Hockey League affiliate, the year was 2008 and they skated against the Manchester Monarchs. The two teams only competed four times and the Wolves collected a 2-2-0-0-0 record. In the clubs’ final meeting on Nov. 25, 2008, a then 22-year-old Jonathan Quick backstopped Manchester to a 7-2 victory. Joe Motzko and Colin Stuart tallied for the Wolves and Brett Sterling — the eldest player on Chicago’s current roster at 33 years old — recorded an assist. The Monarchs roster included some familiar names: Trevor Lewis, Alec Martinez, Matt Moulson, Teddy Purcell, Slava Voynov and backing up Quick was Jonathan Bernier.
FLY the W
As the puck drops tonight at Allstate Arena for the time during the 2017-18 campaign, the Chicago Wolves are in search of their first victory. The team’s odds are good as last year, Chicago compiled a 27-7-3-1 record and outscored opponents 137 to 96 on home ice. The Wolves also aren’t too shabby in their first appearance of the year at Allstate with a 14-6-2-1 record over the past 23 seasons. However, they are looking to get back in the W Column after dropping last season’s home opener to the eventual Calder Cup champion Grand Rapids Griffins.
By the Numbers:
- 1: On Oct. 7, Tyler Wong scored his first professional goal against the Texas Stars. Unfortunately, the tally came in Chicago’s 6-5 overtime loss but it was one of five for the Wolves’ sparkling offense. Fellow newcomer Tomas Hyka also netted a first. The 24-year-old has skated the past three seasons in his native country, the Czech Republic, so his goal on Oct. 7 marked his first professional goal on North American soil. Hyka last played on this continent as a member of the Gatineau Olympiques in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He spent two seasons (2011-13) with Gatineau before heading home to the Czech Republic.
- 2: Two roster moves were made this week. Forwards Conner Bleackley and Keegan Kolesar were reassigned to the Tulsa Oilers and Quad City Mallards of the ECHL, respectively. Bleackley, who spent time with the Wolves last season, did not see game action while with the team in Cedar Park, Texas. Kolesar, however, made his professional debut Oct. 6 in the Wolves season opener against the Texas Stars at H-E-B Center.
- 17: Seventeen players made their Chicago Wolves debuts last weekend. Two goaltenders, four defensemen and 11 forwards all donned Wolves uniforms for the first time over the course of Chicago’s two-game road trip to Cedar Park, Texas. Beau Bennett, Jake Bischoff, Chris Casto, Oscar Dansk,Tomas Hyka, Keegan Kolesar, Max Lagace, Stefan Matteau, Kenney Morrison , Brandon Pirri, Teemu Pulkkinen,Shea Theodore, Paul Thompson, Brock Trotter, Alex Tuch, T.J. Tynan and Tyler Wong all debuted with the Wolves.
- 25: The Chicago Wolves have six 25-year-olds on their roster, which is the average age of the overall team. Beau Bennett, Chris Casto, Bryce Gervais, Kenney Morrison, Teemu Pulkkinen and T.J. Tynan are all of the median age. The outliers include Brett Sterling — the eldest player at 33 — and Dmitry Osipov — the youngest at 20 years old. And three players — Tomas Hyka, Max Lagace and Petteri Lindbohm — will turn 25 during the 2017-18 season.
- 251: Last season, the Chicago Wolves netted 251 goals and ranked fifth among all American Hockey League teams in scoring with a 3.30 goals per game average. That team also boasted two 20-goal scorers — Kenny Agostino and Samuel Blais — and a 30-goal scorer — Wade Megan — who earned the Willie Marshall Award for leading the entire AHL in goals. This season, Chicago is well on its way to another 250-plus goal season. Through the first two games of the 2016-17 campaign, the Wolves mustered only three goals. This year, Chicago is off and running with 10 goals through two games.
- Chicago again collected five goals, including three in the third period, but still fell to the Stars.
- Defenseman Shea Theodore registered two tallies while rookie Tyler Wong recorded his first professional goal and newcomer Tomas Hyka notched his first North American professional marker.
- The Wolves rallied from a 4-2 deficit with three consecutive goals in the third, but the Stars tied the game and eventually won in the bonus frame.
- Rookie netminder Oscar Dansk turned aside 30 shots in his first American Hockey League contest since the 2014-15 campaign.
- The Wolves netted five goals but fell to the Stars in their 24th season opener.
- Right wing Alex Tuch scored three goals while left wing Teemu Pulkkinen and defenseman Shea Theodore each registered a goal and two assists.
- Chicago nearly erased a three-goal deficit in the third period but fell short
- Facing his former team, goaltender Max Lagace made 21 saves in the loss.
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- Wolves veteran forward Brett Sterling and Reign veteran forward T.J. Hensick rank among the finest active scorers in the AHL. The 33-year-old Sterling paces all active AHL players with 235 goals in 501 games. That’s good for 51st on the AHL’s all-time list. The 31-year-old Hensick stands second among all active AHL players with 523 points in 572 regular-season appearances. His point total ranks 76th all-time in the AHL.
- The last time veteran Ontario goaltender Jack Campbell appeared at Allstate Arena, he and the Texas Stars suffered a 4-3 shootout loss despite Campbell’s brilliant performance. He came off the bench on Dec. 17, 2015, and stopped all 28 shots he faced during a 50:59 stint, but Campbell allowed a Jordan Schmaltz a shootout goal.