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IN THE MIX FOR SIX
After struggling to get in the win column, the Chicago Wolves are looking to extend a winning streak to six games Thursday against the Grand Rapids Griffins. With their streak dating back to Dec. 9 against the Cleveland Monsters at Quicken Loans Arena, the Wolves own the longest active win streak in the American Hockey League.
Today is Game 3 of four School-Day games for the Chicago Wolves this season. The team owns a 0-2-0- 0 record through the first two with losses against the Manitoba Moose and Milwaukee Admirals. So far, Chicago has been outscored 6-3 and have yet to net a power-play goal in School-Day action. However, the penalty kill is clicking with a 81.8 percent kill rate.
MOVIN’ ON UP
The Chicago Wolves have climbed a couple rungs of the Central Division ladder while the Grand Rapids Griffins are still dwelling at the bottom. While the Manitoba Moose own the top spot with an 11-point lead on the next-closest team, the Wolves are in the No. 5 spot and just four points — two wins — out of a playoff spot. The Iowa Wild (No. 2), Rockford IceHogs (No. 3), Milwaukee Admirals (No. 4) and Wolves (No. 5) are separated by seven points.
THIS IS STRANGE
The Chicago Wolves and Grand Rapids Griffins enter Thursday’s game with the season series split 2-2-0-0. What is strange is the Wolves have secured both of their victories on the road at Van Andel Arena, a building where they have not had great success over the last five seasons with just a 9-9- 3-0 record. However, last season when the Wolves earned just two wins against the Griffins, they did manage to procure their first win of the set at The Van on Nov. 5. Since the teams began competing more than 20 years ago as members of the International Hockey League, the Wolves own a 32-29-2-9-2 (W-L-T-OTL-SOL) record with a .520 win percentage at Van Andel. With three of the first four games of the eight-game series at The Van, the Wolves are still on the hunt for their first home-ice victory of the season against the Griffins.
On Saturday, forwards Wade Megan and T.J. Tynan each earned two shorthanded points. Tynan netted two shorthanded goals while Megan assisted on both tallies. Tynan’s goals pulled him into a tie — with Charlotte’s Warren Foegele — for an individual game-high among all American Hockey League players this season. Megan’s two assists are a league individual-high as well.
By the Numbers:
- 5: The Chicago Wolves own the longest active winning streak in the American Hockey League at five games and have five games remaining in the 2017 calendar year. If the Wolves can continue to win, the club would enter the New Year with 10 consecutive victories and just two wins shy of matching the franchise record of 12 games. That record was set during the 1990-2000 season from Feb. 25 to March 17. In December 2016, the Wolves’ final five games of the calendar year became the first five games of an eight-game winning streak.
- 22.6: Veteran Brett Sterling skated in all four games last week for the Chicago Wolves and netted three goals. While the 33-year-old has only skated in half of the team’s 28 games this season, he is making the most of his time on ice and owns a 22.6 shooting percentage — best among all active Wolves skaters and 5.5 percentage points better than the next skater — with seven goals. The California native’s eight points this season have pushed him into the the No. 4 spot on the franchise all-time scoring list with 345 total points (185G, 160A) and counting. Additionally, he is the American Hockey League’s all-time active scorer with 242 career goals and ranks 47th on the AHL’s all-time list. Sterling also has quickly ascended the franchise games- played list and his next game, No. 378, will give him sole possession of the No. 3 spot on the list.
- 34: In the Chicago Wolves’ last five games — all victories — they have outshot opponents 170- 144. The pattern is nothing new as the Wolves have outshot their opponents in 20 of 28 games. Since the Wolves began consistently winning, they have also outscored opponents 21-9, a welcome change from the plentiful one-goal wins and one-goal losses previously recorded. The Wolves have killed 80 percent of their penalties during the win streak, but are still struggling on the power play with an 11.1 percent conversion rate.
- 78.6: In the Chicago Wolves’ last five School-Day games — dating back to Nov. 9, 2016 — the club owns a 78.6 percent penalty kill. The Wolves have killed off 22 of 28 short-handed situations. Through the first two games of their four- game School Day schedule this season, the Wolves own a 81.8 success rate on the penalty kill. They have allowed just two goals in 11 opportunities but never more than one in a game.
- 129: Last time the Chicago Wolves and Grand Rapids Griffins got together, the teams combined to score four goals in a 129-second span during the second period and each team netted a pair of tallies. Grand Rapids’ Colin Campbell kicked off the scoring at 17:47, then Jason Garrison and Brett Sterling produced goals just 1:02 apart to give the Wolves a 3-2 lead. With five seconds left on the clock, Griffins captain Matthew Ford — who won’t skate in today’s game as he will be serving a one-game suspension — swooped in with the game-tying goal to send the teams to the dressing rooms deadlocked 3-3.
- 371: It has been 371 days since the Chicago Wolves and Grand Rapids Griffins last met in a School-Day game. On that date — Dec. 15, 2016 — the Griffins derailed the Wolves 7-1 and handed the club their largest margin of defeat during the 2016-17 campaign. The Wolves surrendered three power-play goals and the teams combined for 44 minutes in penalties. The bulk of those minutes were logged by then-Grand Rapids resident pest Mitch Callahan (14 PIM). The Griffins scored six consecutive goals before the Wolves got on the board in the third period. Both Chicago goaltenders — Jordan Binnington and Pheonix Copley — spent time in net and combined for 20 saves.
- 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.
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Dec. 15, 2017
|10/27/2017||Van Andel Arena||L, 5-3|
|11/03/2017||Van Andel Arena||W, 2-0|
|12/02/2017||Allstate Arena||L, 2-5|
|12/15/2017||Van Andel Arena||W, 6-3|
|02/21/2018||Van Andel Arena|