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Tonight is Game 3 of 12 between the Chicago Wolves and Rockford IceHogs in the 2017-18 edition of the Illinois Lottery Cup rivalry. The Wolves and IceHogs split the first two games with identical 4-3 victories.
However, the Wolves are currently in the driver’s seat to defend their Illinois Lottery Cup title with a point earned in a shootout loss on Nov. 19. Rockford’s loss on Nov. 25 at Allstate Arena came in regulation as Brett Sterling’s milestone 238th career AHL goal stood as the game-winner and helped Chicago end a winless skid at eight, one shy of matching a franchise record.
On Nov. 27, forward Stefan Matteau was recalled from loan by the Vegas Golden Knights and made his 2017-18 National Hockey League debut the next day against the Dallas Stars at T-Mobile Arena. Though the Golden Knights suffered the franchise’s first shutout loss, Matteau skated 11 shifts for a total of 7:54 time on ice and recorded three shots. Additionally, the Chicago Wolves roster is a defenseman lighter as veteran blue liner Keith Aulie was released from his professional tryout contract following Sunday’s 6-4 loss to the Iowa Wild at Allstate Arena. Aulie was held scoreless through 11 games with the Wolves and logged six penalty minutes.
FEELS LIKE THE FIRST TIME
While it won’t be the first the time Jordin Tootoo has skated against the Chicago Wolves, tonight could mark the first time the 34-year-old does it while wearing a Rockford IceHogs jersey. In two American Hockey League seasons, Tootoo faced the Wolves with the Milwaukee Admirals (2005-06) and the Grand Rapids Griffins (2013-14). Through 14 combined games against Chicago, Tootoo registered four points — including three goals — 40 penalty minutes and a -7 plus/minus rating.
By the Numbers:
- 2: If history holds true, center Wade Megan is ready to roll and score goals. On Sunday, the 27-year-old netted his first two tallies for the 2017-18 campaign. Last season when the Canton, New York native earned the American Hockey League’s top honor for goal-scoring, he recorded 26 of his 33 goals following Thanksgiving. Sunday’s two goals mark a potential changing of the guard for the previously snakebitten sharp-shooter.
- 5: Sunday’s game against the Iowa Wild marked the quarter-point of the regular season for the Chicago Wolves. Through 19 games, Chicago has collected a 5-10-3-1 record and those five wins are the fewest for the club through the first 19 games of the season. The team’s previous low for wins through 19 games was six during the 2005-06 campaign. How rare is this start for the Wolves? The 2005-06 and 2010-11 seasons — plus this season — are the only three years in which the Wolves’ points percentage stood at less than .500 through the first 19 contests.
- 10: On Sunday, forward Teemu Pulkkinen ended a 10-game goal-scoring drought with his team-leading seventh goal of the year. The tally also gave him 19 points in 19 games. While the Finn hadn’t been finding the back of the net, he was busy setting up his teammate and collected five assists in that span. Pulkkinen also ended another streak on Sunday: With a +2 plus/ minus rating, Pulkkinen avoided his seventh straight game with a negative plus/minus rating.
- 75: During the 2012-13 season, center Brandon Pirri led the American Hockey League with 22 goals and 53 assists for 75 points through 76 games with the Rockford IceHogs and earned the John B. Sollenberger Trophy as the league’s top point-scorer. That was one of four seasons Pirri spent in Rockford after being selected in the second round, 59th overall, of the 2009 NHL Draft by the Chicago Blackhawks. Last time the Chicago Wolves were in Rockford — Nov. 19 — the IceHogs recognized Pirri with an in-game tribute video for his time with the team. If Pirri can keep up his more-than-a-point-per-game scoring pace — and appears in the rest of Chicago’s 57 games — he is on track to match his 2012-13 scoring total.
- 197: One quarter through the 2017-18 campaign and the Chicago Wolves have collected 197 penalty minutes. The Wolves are one of just three teams with fewer than 200 penalty minutes on the season. However, with 197 minutes through 19 games, Chicago owns the lowest average with 10.37 penalty minutes per game. Additionally, the Wolves have just three major infractions and have yet to record any misconduct or match penalties.
- 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 loss.
Saturday, Nov. 25 (at) Chicago 4, Rockford 3
- 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.
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Nov. 25, 2017
|11/19/2017||BMO Harris Bank Center||SOL, 3-4|
|11/25/2017||Allstate Arena||W, 4-3|
|12/01/2017||BMO Harris Bank Center|
|12/12/2017||BMO Harris Bank Center|
|12/22/2017||BMO Harris Bank Center|
|03/24/2017||BMO Harris Bank Center|
|04/13/2018||BMO Harris Bank Center|