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The Chicago Wolves are still searching for some offensive fire. If history repeats itself, center Wade Megan will begin to heat up for the holidays. Last season, the 27-year-old kicked his offensive production into overdrive with three points — two goals and an assist — against the Charlotte Checkers on Nov. 23 (the day after Thanksgiving). The Canton, New York native went on to collect 16 multi-point performances, including his first career hat trick and four-point game on Dec. 28. Megan gathered 26 of his 33 goals after the American Thanksgiving holiday en route to the 2016-17 American Hockey League goal-scoring title.
GAME OF THRONES
On Friday, goaltender Michael Leighton began his reign between the pipes for the Chicago Wolves and became the fifth netminder to wear the crease crown this season. Leighton’s first 43 minutes and 53 seconds of service were as stone-cold solid as the Night King painted on his mask. However, the Milwaukee Admirals chipped away at the ice emperor’s game — including two goals in the third period — until the game ended in overtime. After one game with the Wolves, the 36-year-old veteran has a 2.88 goals-against average and .889 save percentage. Overall — including his nine games with the Syracuse Crunch — Leighton owns a 3-3-3 record, 3.01 goals-against average and .871 save percentage.
In one game fewer than Leighton, 24-year-old Kasimir Kaskisuo — the other half of the Wolves goaltender tandem — owns a 2-6-1 record with a shutout, 2.62 goals-against average and .913 save percentage. He has backstopped the Wolves for eight games and the Toronto Marlies for one.
STILL NEVER MUCH LOVE IN OT
This season’s Chicago Wolves aren’t shaping up much different than last season’s crew in terms of overtime and shootout performances. This season, through five games that needed bonus time to decided a victor, the Wolves are 1-3 in the 3-on-3 five-minute OT frame and 0-1 in the shootout. The club also has yet to score a goal in the shootout and Wolves goaltenders — four of five have seen OT action — own a combined .750 save percentage in overtime.
Last season, the Wolves managed to earn the Central Division title despite the team’s lackluster performance in bonus time. In the 3-on-3 session, Chicago was 5-8 and just 2-5 in the shootout. During the overtime frame, the Wolves and opponents were deadlocked with 41 shots on goal each and Wolves goaltenders had a combined .795 save percentage.
By the Numbers:
- 2.68:Through 19 games, the Rockford IceHogs have allowed opponents 2.68 goals per game while averaging 3.11 goals per game en route to an 11-7-1-0 record. Conversely, the Chicago Wolves have allowed opponents 3.18 goals per game and have been collecting just 2.53 goals per game. While Chicago is averaging well below what Rockford is allowing opponents, the Wolves have managed to net three or more goals in seven contests this season. Additionally, the Wolves are in the middle of the pack in terms of total goals given up to opponents (No. 18 of 30, 54 GF).
- 7: On American Thanksgiving Day — Nov. 23 — center Wade Megan took a puck to the side of the head while working on the power play during practice. The gash near his ear required seven stitches to close. While the 27-year-old was thankful to need only a few sutures, he is still looking for his first goal of the season. During the 2016-17 campaign, Megan led the American Hockey League in goal-scoring with 33 tallies in 73 games.
- 9: The Chicago Wolves are staring franchise history right in the eye. If Chicago cannot overcome the Rockford IceHogs in tonight’s Illinois Lottery Cup matchup, the team will match a franchise record for consecutive losses with nine games. It would be the third time the club has reached the benchmark in 24 years.
- 11: Friday’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Milwaukee Admirals marked the 11th time this season the Chicago Wolves have competed in a game decided by a one-goal differential. Five of those contests have needed extra time — the only shootout came against tonight’s opponent on Nov. 19. This season, the Wolves own a 2-5-3-1 record in one-goal games and have been outscored 35-28.
- 50: For the opening 43 minutes and 53 seconds of his Chicago Wolves debut, goaltender Michael Leighton made a bid for his American Hockey League-record 50th shutout. The 36-year-old netminder with 14 years of AHL experience is no stranger to keeping the opponent off the scoreboard for a full 60 minutes and it nearly happened in Friday’s contest against the Milwaukee Admirals. It would have been the second shutout in a game between the two teams — the Admirals shut out the Wolves 3-0 on Nov. 8 and handed Chicago its largest margin of defeat to date.
- 250: Brandon Pirri’s next American Hockey League game will be his 250th. The milestone comes just one game after the 26-year-old skated in his 475th professional contest on Friday against the Milwaukee Admirals. Through parts of eight seasons in professional hockey, Pirri has collected 130 goals and 178 assists for 308 points. In his first 249 games at the AHL level, the Toronto native has 73 goals and 138 assists for 211 points. This season, Pirri consistently has been Chicago’s most productive player with a point-per-game average through 11 contests.
- Chicago earned its third straight point in its third consecutive extra-time game, but fell for the third time to the Admirals.
- Wolves wing Mackenzie MacEachern and captain Paul Thompson both scored.
- However, Harry Zolnierczyk netted two third-period goals and Bobby Butler delivered during overtime for the Milwaukee win.
- Goaltender Michael Leighton made 24 saves in his Wolves debut.
- The Wolves earned another point as they fell to the Stars in overtime.
- Center Brandon Pirri netted Chicago’s lone goal of the game — the 1-1 equalizer — on the power play at 8:13 of the third period.
- Stars center Jason Dickinson collected the game-winning tally just 21 seconds into the extra frame.
- Goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo made 18 saves in the loss.
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Nov. 19, 2017
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