Wednesday, Dec. 6 | 7:00 p.m. | Allstate Arena
ONE OF OUR OWN
San Diego Gulls head coach Dallas Eakins is very familiar to the Chicago Wolves as he spent five seasons (1998-2002) wearing burgundy and gold. In that time, Eakins skated in 260 games with the Wolves and collected 82 points (14G, 68A). The Florida native’s crowning achievements with the Wolves were winning the Turner Cup in 2000 and the Calder Cup in 2002. Eakins still dots the Wolves record book as he was named a second-team all-star for the International Hockey League (1999-2000) and holds the record for most penalty minutes in a single game with 27 on April 19, 2002, against Grand Rapids.
FRIENDS ACROSS ENEMY LINES
When Chicago Wolves head coach Rocky Thompson and San Diego Gulls head coach Dallas Eakins take their places on their respective benches, they will have to bring their absolute “A” game with two points on the line between friends and former colleagues. Thompson and Eakins spent time together in the Edmonton Oilers organization. Thompson served as an assistant coach the second season of Eakins’ two as bench boss for the Oilers.
Additionally, Eakins and Wolves assistant coach Chris Dennis spent time together in the Toronto Maple Leafs organization. Eakins coached for both the Maple Leafs and their American Hockey League affiliate, the Toronto Marlies, for seven years while Dennis spent 10 years with Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment. He honed his coaching craft under the tutelage of several head coaches, including Pat Quinn, Paul Maurice, Ron Wilson and Randy Carlyle.
LOUGH JOINS BLUE LINE
On Tuesday, the Wolves signed 25-year-old defenseman Kevin Lough to a professional tryout contract. The Kanata, Ontario, native joins Chicago from the ECHL’s Adirondack Thunder, where he began his pro career in 2016 following a four-year term at Colgate University. Through two full seasons and parts of a third with the Thunder, Lough has skated in 76 games and registered 33 points (6G, 27A). He made his Kelly Cup Playoff debut last spring and collected an assist in six games.
By the Numbers:
- 5: The Chicago Wolves have never faced this version of the San Diego Gulls. However, in Chicago’s inaugural season as a professional hockey team, the Wolves played two games against another San Diego franchise of the same name and racked up 8 goals. The clubs split the set with 1-1-0 records. In Chicago’s victory on Jan. 4, 1995, now-general manager Wendell Young was between the pipes and turned aside 29 shots in his team’s 6-4 win at the then-Rosemont Horizon. The late Tim Breslin netted the game-winning goal and the Wolves all-time leading scorer, Steve Maltais, was named the game’s second star.
- 32: On Saturday, the Wolves doubled their single game-high with 32 penalty minutes. This year’s team has previously logged no more than 16 penalty minutes in any game. However, Saturday’s bout against the Grand Rapids Griffins saw the Wolves earn nine infractions, including two fighting majors. Forward Scooter Vaughan — appearing in just his fourth game of the year — logged 17 minutes. In the final 43 seconds of the game, Vaughan was assessed penalties for instigating and fighting and an instigator game misconduct. On Tuesday, the AHL announced a one- game suspension for Vaughan for instigating a fight in the final five minutes of regulation.
- 44: In the first period, Chicago has outshot the opposition 240-196 for a 44-shot differential. That positive margin hasn’t paid dividends, though, as the Wolves have been outscored 26-14 in the first frame. In the second and third periods, the Wolves have outshot opponents by smaller margins (242-222 and 218-190, respectively), but foes are only outscoring Chicago by three goals in the second and third sessions. The Wolves have outshot opponents 711-619 overall.
- 72: The Chicago Wolves have given up 72 goals to opponents while the San Diego Gulls have given up 74. With one game to their credit, Gulls opponents are averaging 3.70 goals per game, the most among the 30 American Hockey League teams. The Wolves — whose opponents average 3.43 goals per game — rank 25th in the league goals-against standings.
- 342: In Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Grand Rapids Griffins, veteran left wing Brett Sterling recorded a milestone with an assist on captain Paul Thompson’s second-period goal. Sterling’s first helper of the season — his fifth point — moved him into a tie with former teammate Jason Krog for the No. 4 spot on the Chicago Wolves all-time scoring list with 342 points. The 33-year-old collected another milestone in the previous evening’s contest against the Rockford IceHogs as he netted his 239th career American Hockey League goal to move into a time for the No. 48 spot on the league’s all-time goal-scoring list. Sterling leads all active players on the AHL list.
- 711: This season, the Chicago Wolves have put 711 shots on net for an average of 32.86 shots per game through 21 contests. That average is the second highest in the American Hockey League — behind only the Rockford IceHogs who have collected 809 to average 35.17 per game through 23 contests. Fifteen times this season, the Wolves have outshot their opponent and in those contests the club owns a 3-8-4-0 record.
- Grand Rapids scored three straight goals and never looked back en route to victory over Chicago.
- Forwards Beau Bennett and Paul Thompson scored for Chicago.
- With an assist, left wing Brett Sterling earned a point to tie former teammate Jason Krog for fourth all-time in franchise scoring with 342 points.
- Goaltender Michael Leighton was relieved just 5:48 into the contest allowing two goals on as many shots; through 54:12 of time in net, Kasimir Kaskisuo stopped 17 of 20 shots for the loss.
- The Wolves’ three-goal rally fell short as the IceHogs earned their second Illinois Lottery Cup win.
- Left wing Brett Sterling collected his 239th career American Hockey League goal to move into the No. 48 spot on the league’s all-time goal-scoring list.
- Forwards Brandon Pirri and Teemu Pulkkinen each recorded one goal and one assist.
- Goaltender Michael Leighton made 28 saves in the loss.
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SIX DEGREES OF RETO BERRA
The last time San Diego Gulls goaltender Reto Berra showed up at Allstate Arena, he scored an empty-net goal against the Wolves for the Lake Erie Monsters. Berra’s tally at 18:34 of the third helped the Monsters take a 5-1 win. Among Berra’s teammates that night was forward Andrew Agozzino, who spent last season helping the Wolves win the Central Division. The only Wolves player that night who’s still on the team’s roster is defenseman Petteri Lindbohm. And why was Berra even playing for Lake Erie? Because he was on a conditioning stint, which required Calvin Pickard to move up to the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche. Two months ago, the Vegas Golden Knights traded Pickard to the Toronto Maple Leafs to bring Tobias Lindberg to the Wolves.