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ILLINOIS LOTTERY CUPDATE
Friday night the Chicago Wolves and Rockford IceHogs meet for the fifth of 12 times this season in the Illinois Lottery Cup series. The teams have split the first four games, which means this competition figures to go down to the wire. The Wolves have earned six points in these games compared to Rockford’s four, but all that counts in the Illinois Lottery Cup is wins. Chicago owns possession of the Cup after taking eight of 12 meetings last season.
SEARCHING FOR SEVEN
The Chicago Wolves enter Friday’s game with the longest active win streak in the American Hockey League and are looking to stretch it to seven games. The win streak — which dates back to Dec. 9 against the Cleveland Monsters — includes Chicago outscoring opponents 26-12. The club has negated 19 of 25 opponent power plays for a 76 percent penalty kill. Additionally, the Wolves are looking better on the power play with four extra-man markers in their last six contests.
This season is the first in center Brandon Pirri’s American Hockey League career that he hasn’t skated with the Rockford IceHogs logo on his chest. While in Rockford, Pirri registered 75 points (22G, 53A) in 76 games to earn the league scoring title in 2012-13. Pirri has some work do if he wants to be in the hunt for this year’s scoring title, but the 26-year-old Toronto native isn’t doing too shabby against his former team. Through four games against Rockford, Pirri has averaged a point per game with two goals and two assists.
DIDN’T MISS A BEAT
Forward Tomas Hyka didn’t miss a beat and earned an assist in Thursday’s game against the Griffins. The 24-year-old took a trip to the National Hockey League when the Vegas Golden Knights recalled him for their Tuesday game against NHL’s No. 1 team, the Tampa Bay Lightning. While the Golden Knights beat the Lightning 4-3 when defenseman Shea Theodore — who skated eight games with the Wolves — scored the game-winning goal with 2.3 seconds on the clock. Hyka was a healthy scratch along with the recently acquired Ryan Carpenter and Wolves alumnus Brad Hunt.
Both the Chicago Wolves and Rockford IceHogs own power-play success rates of better than 90 percent in head-to-head Illinois Lottery Cup action. Through four games, each team has only tallied one power-play goal. The Wolves own a slightly better percentage: killing 15 of 16 Rockford advantages for a 93.8 percent kill rate. Rockford has killed 10 of 11 Chicago opportunities.
By the Numbers:
- 1: The first four games of the Illinois Lottery Cup have been decided by one goal and three of the four contests have ended with a 4-3 score. The Rockford IceHogs collected their two 4-3 victories in extra time. On Nov. 19, Vinnie Hinostroza’s shootout goal was the game-winner — David Kampf also scored for Rockford in the shootout — and on Dec. 1, Hinostroza ended the 3-on-3 five-minute bonus frame in just 37 seconds for a win. The Wolves weathered a third-period onslaught to snag their first victory on Nov. 25 and then earned a 2-1 victory on Dec 12 when Paul Thompson scored in the final two seconds
- 3: Chicago Wolves captain Paul Thompson has a three-game point streak and has scored points in five of the last six games. The 29-year-old has stepped up when the team needs him most and proves day-in and day-out why he was christened with the “C” on his left shoulder. Thompson’s most recent highlight was a second-period game-tying goal against the Grand Rapids Griffins on Thursday as part of five consecutive markers the Wolves netted en route to a 5-4 victory.
8: Though the Chicago Wolves’ last five games, forward T.J. Tynan owns four goals and four assists for eight points. When the Wolves began rolling on their now six-game win streak, Tynan soon followed as he picked up assists in back-to-back games and then collected his first three-goal performance on Dec. 16 against the Iowa Wild at Allstate Arena. Appearing in all 29 games this season for Chicago, Tynan owns 19 points (6G, 13A) and is almost halfway to earning his fourth consecutive 40-plus point season.
- 9: The Chicago Wolves roster includes nine players with double-digit point totals. Teemu Pulkkinen leads the team with 25 points (9G, 16A) through 29 games and Brandon Pirri is four points behind with eight goals and 13 assists. T.J. Tynan (6-13–19), captain Paul Thompson (10- 8–18), Beau Bennett (4-14–18), Jason Garrison (4-10–14), Tomas Hyka (6-7–13) and Wade Megan (4-7–11) are the other seven. Brett Sterling is on the cusp with nine points — eight of which are goals.
- 54: During his career, veteran Brett Sterling has faced the Rockford IceHogs 54 times in regular-season action. Sterling boasts 19 goals and 28 assists for 47 points with a +7 plus/minus rating. This season, the 33-year-old has netted two of his seven goals against the IceHogs. While Sterling has only appeared in 15 of the Wolves’ 29 games, he has made the most of his ice time whether it’s scoring or going to tough places to play — in front of the net and the corners.
- 99: When the Chicago Wolves pushed their winning streak to six games with Thursday’s 5-4 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins, the club also positioned itself for the chance to secure franchise regular-season win No. 1,000. Over the course of 23-plus seasons, the Wolves have achieved some major accomplishments: a single-season high of 55 wins (1997-98), 16 40-plus win seasons, nine 100-plus point seasons and 18 playoff berths which have resulted in four league championships.
- 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.
- Chicago bested Cleveland in the second of back-to-back games at Quicken Loans Arena.
- Goaltender Michael Leighton made 24 saves for his AHL milestone 50th career shutout and his first win in a Wolves sweater.
- Forward Tobias Lindberg netted his first goal of the season while center Wade Megan and captain Paul Thompson also tallied.
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Dec. 12, 2017
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