Welcome to Wolves Roundup, a weekly report of highlights, notes and transactions from the Chicago Wolves’ previous week of competition during the 2017-18 season.
December is one of the busiest months of the 2017-18 season for the Chicago Wolves as the club will play 14 games between Dec. 1 and 30.
The Wolves kick off their bustling holiday schedule on Friday, Dec. 1, against the Rockford IceHogs for Game No. 3 of 12 of Illinois Lottery Cup competition at BMO Harris Bank Center. The clubs split the first two contests with identical 4-3 scores. The Wolves earned their victory on Saturday at Allstate Arena.
Chicago is still looking to get into the win column consistently, but that task will prove tough as 13 of the 14 upcoming games are against Central Division opponents. At the present, the Wolves are looking up at all of them in the standings.
The landscape of the Central Division has drastically changed since this time last season. Not only is the division a team lighter than during the 2016-17 campaign — the Charlotte Checkers are now a member of the Atlantic Division — but in true developmental fashion, several teams have improved since last year. Iowa and Rockford, both near the bottom of the standings last season, are among the division’s top three teams.
During 14 games in December 2016, the Wolves accrued a 9-2-2-1 record that included five games of the eight game winning streak from Dec. 22, 2016, to Jan. 7, 2017.
Additionally, the team’s top scorers began to heat up. Kenny Agostino, the reigning league MVP and top point producer, sat atop the leaderboard with a nine-point lead over his nearest opponent in the AHL scoring race and earned the league’s Player of the Month honor for December.
In 14 games, Agostino registered 25 points (7G, 18A) and was the first player to record 25 points in a month since 2010. He also ended the calendar year with a bang, scoring five points (4G, A) in a 5-2 victory over Iowa on Dec. 31.
On Sunday, the 27-year-old netted his first two goals of the season. While they were not enough to lift the Wolves over the Iowa Wild, it did give the snakebitten shooter some confidence. Last season when Megan led the league in goal scoring, he netted 26 of his 33 tallies after Thanksgiving.
Through four games, the Toronto native collected a goal and four assists for five points. Those numbers allowed him to elevate his scoring average from a point per game to a team-leading 1.08 per game. Pirri also recorded his first three-point performance of the season on Sunday against the Iowa Wild.
The 25-year-old Finn broke a 10-game goal drought with his seventh tally of the season on Sunday against his former team, the Iowa Wild. Through four games, Pulkkinen recorded a goal and two assists for three points. While his per-game production has dipped, he continues to average a point per game through 19 contests this season.
On Saturday, the California native netted his 238th career American Hockey League goal, which also served as the game-winning tally as the Wolves ended a winless skid at eight games — just one game shy of matching a franchise record. For Sterling, that goal also vaulted him into the AHL’s top 50 all-time goal scorers at the No. 49 spot with Michel Harvey. His next goal will move him into a tie for the No. 48 position with Geordie Robertson. In the Wolves record book, Sterling is No. 2 all-time with 181 goals.
- Chicago fell in its first game of the season to Iowa.
- Center Wade Megan netted his first two goals of the season while Brandon Pirri collected three assists.
- Forward Teemu Pulkkinen snapped a 10-game goal drought and T.J. Tynan registered his second goal of the year.
- Goaltender Michael Leighton made 17 saves in
- The Wolves stopped a winless streak at eight games with an Illinois Lottery Cup victory against the IceHogs.
- Defensemen Jason Garrison and Petteri Lindbohm along with Stefan Matteau scored the first three goals for Chicago.
- Veteran left wing Brett Sterling netted the 238th tally of his AHL career to break the 3-3 tie and become one of the league’s all-time top 50 goal scorers.
- Goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo turned aside 30 shots in the victory.
- 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.
|Friday, Dec. 1||at Rockford||BMO Harris Bank Center||7 p.m.|
|Saturday, Dec. 2||vs. Grand Rapids||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.|
|Wednesday, Dec. 6||vs. San Diego||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.|
|Friday, Dec. 8||at Cleveland||Quicken Loans Arena||6 p.m.|
|Saturday, Dec. 9||at Cleveland||Quicken Loans Arena||12 p.m.|