Friday, Oct. 27 | 6:00 p.m. | Van Andel Arena
FAMILIAR FACES IN ENEMY PLACES
When forward Teemu Pulkkinen steps onto the ice tonight, he will be playing against a slew of familiar faces in a familiar arena. However, after spending two full seasons and earning a Calder Cup with the Grand Rapids Griffins, Pulkkinen comes to Van Andel Arena as the enemy. This isn’t the first time the 25-year-old has faced the Griffins in different colors. During the 2016-17 campaign, Pulkkinen was claimed off waivers by the Minnesota Wild. Of the 47 games he skated in with the Iowa Wild — Minnesota’s AHL affiliate — eight of those contests were against Grand Rapids. Additionally, he made his Wild debut against Grand Rapids.
The Wolves have struggled at Van Andel Arena over the last five seasons and have a 7-8-3-0 record to show for it. While that record is better than they fare in their own building — Allstate Arena (6-10-2-0) — against Grand Rapids, there is still plenty of room for improvement. Chicago especially struggled last season, earning just a single win at The Van in five regular-season games. While the Wolves received the raw end of the deal, three of those contests were one-goal contests and two went to overtime. Grand Rapids only outscored Chicago 19-16 in those games.
Prior to Wednesday’s School-Day Game against the Manitoba Moose, the Wolves ranked second among the 30 teams in the American Hockey League with a 28 percent power-play success rate. Chicago managed to score on seven of their 25 man-advantage opportunities. On Wednesday, the Wolves’ fortunes changed and the club was 0-for-7 on the power play and dropped down to the No. 7 spot with a 21.9 success rate.
This season, both the Griffins and Wolves are off to not-so-hot starts. Grand Rapids stands last in the Central Division with a 2-4-0-1 record while the Wolves are a few spots higher as the No. 5 seed with a 2-3-1-0 record. The Wolves have been outscored 22-21 by their opponents while the Griffins are being outscored 26-19.
By the Numbers:
- 1: Kasimir Kaskisuo, the latest Wolves goaltender, appeared in his first game as a Chicago Wolves player on Wednesday, but the 24-year-old netminder is still looking for his first victory. The Wolves dropped Wednesday’s contest 3-1 to the Manitoba Moose as they allowed three straight goal before getting on the board with Kaskisuo on the bench for an extra skater.
- 8: On Wednesday, defenseman Shea Theodore rifled an season individual-high eight shots on net against goaltender Eric Comrie and the Manitoba Moose. While the Wolves are still juggling the lineup to find the right chemistry, Theodore has skated on a defensive pairing with both Keith Aulie and Kenney Morrison.
- 9: Following Wednesday’s game against Manitoba, forward Brock Trotter — who donned No. 9 through four contests with Chicago — was released from his professional tryout contract. The 30-year-old signed his contract with on Sept. 20 just prior to the start of training camp. Trotter was one of three players on PTOs to begin the 2017-18 season. Fellow veteran Brett Sterling and rookie Curtis Leonard both earned contracts out of camp. Leonard was released from his PTO on Oct. 9 and Sterling is still on the Wolves roster. Additionally, defenseman Keith Aulie was signed to a PTO on Oct. 18.
- 40: Sixteen skaters on the Chicago roster are still looking for their first goal of the season. One of the most notable is forward T.J. Tynan. Through six games this season, Tynan has collected just two assists. In each of Tynan’s first three full American Hockey League seasons, the 25-year-old netted at least 40 points. At his current point pace, Tynan is looking at a 25 points, a career-low.
- 150: Defenseman Shea Theodore is just two games away from his 150th professional contest. At just 22 years old, Theodore is easily a top-four defenseman and has logged major minutes for the Wolves over the course of his six-game tenure. He’s also the team’s second-best scorer — behind only Teemu Pulkkinen — with nine points (4G, 5A). The Langley, British Columbia native has only skated two full professional seasons, but they’ve been split between the American and National Hockey Leagues. He also boasts 20 games of Stanley Cup Playoff experience with eight points (2G, 6A) in that span.
- 370: Sunday’s contest against the Tucson Roadrunners was not only defenseman Keith Aulie’s Wolves debut, it marked his 370th professional game. Across a nine-year career, Aulie has skated with 12 American and National Hockey League teams. Additionally, the 28-year-old has registered 15 goals and 32 assists for 47 points in that span. This season, Aulie has skated in two games since signing a professional tryout contract with Chicago on Oct. 18.
- Chicago rebounded during overtime of a tight defensive game to split a two-game set with Tucson.
- Forward Teemu Pulkkinen netted both Wolves goals for his first multi-goal game of the season.
- The Roadrunners’ lone goal was their second short-handed marker in as many games against the Wolves.
- Goaltender Max Lagace earned his second victory of the year with a 23-save performance.
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8-2-0-0 Grand Rapids | 2-5-3-0 Chicago
May 13, 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs
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