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 to Remember
The Chicago Wolves seem to relish the longer nights and chilly weather as they are off to a 6-2-1-0 record in December with five games remaining before the New Year. This month in 2016 was also the club’s busiest and one of their most successful as they finished with a .750 win percentage through 14 games.
The Wolves have an eerily similar schedule in December 2017 as they did in December 2016. The similarities include 14 contests — the most of any month for the entire season — but this year’s crew also faces Central Division opponents in 13 of the 14 matches with the odd team out being the San Diego Gulls (Dec. 6). Last season, Chicago played Central Division foes in all 14 contests.
Also in 2016, Chicago plowed through December with three goaltenders splitting time between the pipes: Jordan Binnington, Pheonix Copley and Ville Husso. In 2017, the Wolves have started the month in a similar fashion with Kasimir Kaskisuo, Max Lagace and Michael Leighton each getting their chances in net. However, only Kaskisuo and Lagace are still on the roster as Leighton was recalled by the Arizona Coyotes on Dec. 10.
After struggling through the first two months of the season, producing a 5-10-3-1 record and dwelling at the bottom of the division, the Wolves have turned a corner. Since Dec. 1, the Wolves have outscored opponents 31-22 and are looking to extend a five-game winning streak. In December 2016, Chicago outscored opponents 57-44 through 14 games and earned the first five wins of an eventual eight-game win streak.
The Wolves still have five contests remaining on the 2017 calendar — Dec. 21, 22, 27, 29 and 30 — and will look to end the year on a high note (Hopefully as high of a note as Kenny Agostino’s five-point performance against the Iowa Wild on New Year’s Eve 2016).
The 24-year-old returned to the lineup and skated in three of four games last week for Chicago. Hyka has appeared in just four of the last 16 contests as he has been battling injuries. On Dec. 15 at Grand Rapids — returning to the lineup for the first time since Dec. 6 — he registered four points (2G, 2A) to help the Wolves rattle the Griffins 6-3 at Van Andel Arena. On Saturday, Hyka netted what served as the game-winning goal against the Iowa Wild for his fifth point in two games.
Returned on loan from Vegas (NHL), Lagace was in net for three of Chicago’s four victories this week. Aside from the perfect 3-0-0 record, the 24-year-old also registered a .941 save percentage and 2.00 goals- against average.
The 22-year-old Swede collected two goals and one assist in four games last week. However, the Wolves improved to 5-0-0-0 this season when Lindberg gets on the scoresheet. The first two games in which Lindberg got on the scoresheet were shutouts for the Wolves. Now the team has strung together a season-high five-game winning streak.
Normally a center who sets the table for others, the 25-year-old Tynan netted his first career hat trick with three goals against the Iowa Wild on Saturday at Allstate Arena. Aside from the personal milestone, Tynan also registered back-to-back short-handed goals as two of the three markers in his hatty. The Orland Park, Illinois, native earned an assist in each of the other three games last week for a total of six points (3G, 3A) in four games.
- Chicago earned its fifth consecutive win and second this season against the Admirals.
- Defensemen Jason Garrison (2A) and Jake Walman (G, A) each earned two points and Walman’s goal stood as the game-winner.
- Forwards Beau Bennett, Tobias Lindberg and Paul Thompson also scored.
- Goaltender Max Lagace made 33 saves.
- Chicago rattled off three consecutive third-period goals en route to victory over Iowa.
- Forward T.J. Tynan netted his first career hat trick that included two short-handed tallies.
- Forward Tomas Hyka registered his fifth point (3G, 2A) in two games with a goal, center Wade Megan collected three points (G, 2A) and Teemu Pulkkinen ended a goal drought at six games.
- Goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo made 15 saves for the victory.
- The Wolves earned their second victory over Griffins in as many games at Van Andel Arena.
- Returning from injury, forward Tomas Hyka registered four points — two goals and two assists.
- Forward Brett Sterling netted two goals en route taking sole possession of the No. 4 spot on the Wolves franchise scoring list.
- Defenseman Jason Garrison earned a goal and two assists while forward Tobias Lindberg collected his third point, a goal, in as many games.
- In his second consecutive start, goaltender Max Lagace made 29 saves for his fourth Wolves win.
- The Wolves topped the IceHogs for their third win in four games.
- Forward Brandon Pirri scored early in the first period and Chicago held the lead for over 40 minutes before Rockford tied the game in the third.
- With just 1.8 seconds on the clock, captain Paul Thompson netted the game-winning goal.
- In his first game with Chicago since Oct. 22, goaltender Max Lagace made 34 saves for the win.
|Tuesday, Dec. 21||vs. Grand Rapids||Allstate Arena||11 a.m.|
|Friday, Dec. 22||at Rockford||BMO Harris Bank Center||7 p.m.|
|Wednesday, Dec. 27||at Milwaukee||UWM Panther Arena||7 p.m.|
|Friday, Dec. 29||at Milwaukee||UWM Panther Arena||7 p.m.|
|Saturday, Dec. 30||vs. Rockford||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.|