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.
Streaking into the New Year
The Chicago Wolves come into the New Year with the streak they have been pushing since Dec. 9. In the last 11 games, Chicago has accrued a 9-0-1-1 record with 20 of 22 possible points. The stint also has the Wolves ascending the Central Division standings.
Chicago is just one point shy of the No. 2 and 4 teams (the Rockford IceHogs and Iowa Wild, respectively) and own more points than the No. 3 team, the Milwaukee Admirals. But with the standings ranked by win percentage instead of points, the Wolves are holding at No. 5 for now. However, of the four previously mentioned teams, the Wolves own the most ROW (regulation and overtime wins). If they can continue to avoid the shootout and stay in the win column, they may have the edge come Calder Cup Playoffs time.
After a successful December that saw the Wolves face divisional opponents in 13 of 14 games and collect a 9-2-2-1 record — their best month of the season yet — January will not be any easier.
Chicago rang in the New Year against the Iowa Wild in Des Moines, where the Wolves were able to hold on for a 2-1 regulation win. The victory pushed their all-time record at Wells Fargo Arena to 17-1-2-1 and overall series record to 32-6-3-2.
Wednesday, the Cleveland Monsters visit Allstate Arena for the first time this season. Previously, the teams split a back-to-back set of games at Quicken Loans Arena. The Wolves victory was a splendid one as they earned their second shutout of the season and goaltender Michael Leighton recorded his AHL-record 50th shutout. That victory served as the beginning of the Wolves’ current 11-game point streak.
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 California native returned to the Chicago lineup after a three- game absence and recorded points in three consecutive games (Dec. 27-30). In his return on Dec. 27 against Milwaukee, the 26-year-old netted a goal and then added assists in back-to-back contests against Milwaukee (Dec. 29) and Rockford (Dec. 30). In the four games, Bennett compiled 10 shots on goal and logged just two penalty minutes.
The Czech Republic native totaled five points (3G, 2A) in Chicago ‘s last four games. On Dec. 27, Hyka registered a goal and an assist against Milwaukee and on Dec. 30 he netted two goals versus Rockford. Since returning from injury on Dec. 15, the 24-year-old has 11 points (6G, 5A) in nine games.
The 26-year-old collected three points in two games against Milwaukee and a goal in the Dec. 30 contest against his former team Rockford. With three goals in three games, Pirri took over the team goal-scoring lead and the team point lead. He and Teemu Pulkkinen are tied with 26 points but Pirri’s 12 goals give him the tiebreaker and the No. 1 spot.
The Illinois native averaged a point per game through four games. On Dec. 30, Tynan netted his third short-handed goal of the season as Chicago topped their Illinois Lottery Cup rival, Rockford, 6-2. The four-goal difference was Chicago’s largest margin of victory this season. On Monday, the 25-year-old also collected his fourth multi-point game of the season when he set up both goals in the 2-1 win over Iowa.
Monday, Jan. 1 Chicago 2, (at) Iowa 1
- Chicago extended its point streak to 11 contests in its first game of the season at Wells Fargo Arena.
- Forward T.J. Tynan assisted on both Wolves goals.
- Forward Tobias Lindberg netted the team’s fifth short-handed marker and Mackenzie MacEachern scored Chicago’s second tally.
- Goaltender Max Lagace made 25 saves for his eighth victory of the season.
Saturday, Dec. 30 (at) Chicago 6, Rockford 2
- Chicago stretched its point streak to 10 games with an Illinois Lottery Cup victory over Rockford.
- Forward Tomas Hyka netted two goals, including the game-winner, while center Wade Megan registered three points (G, 2A).
- Former IceHogs player Brandon Pirri opened scoring at 7:20 of the first frame.
- Forward T.J. Tynan collected his third short-handed goal of the year while defenseman Chris Casto earned his first goal of the season.
- Goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo made his first start in six games and stopped 29 shots in the win.
Friday, Dec, 29 (at) Milwaukee 3, Chicago 2 (SO)
- The Wolves fell in a shootout to Milwaukee but earned their 16th point in nine games.
- Center Brandon Pirri tallied in regulation and the shootout while Tobias Lindberg scored in the first period for the Wolves.
- Two Admirals skaters scored in the shootout but only Pirri could solve Anders Lindback.
- Wolves netminder Max Lagace made 20 saves in the loss.
Wednesday, Dec. 27 Chicago 3, (at) Milwaukee 2 (OT)
- The Wolves pushed their point streak to eight games with 15 points against the Admirals.
- Defenseman Jake Walman sealed the victory 1:05 in overtime with a one-time blast.
- Forwards Tomas Hyka and Brandon Pirri earned two points (G, A) apiece.
- Goaltender Max Lagace made 26 saves in the win.
|Wednesday, Jan. 3||vs. Cleveland||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.|
|Friday, Jan. 5||vs. Manitoba||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.|
|Saturday, Jan. 6||vs. Grand Rapids||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.|
|Wednesday, Jan. 10||at San Diego||Valley View Casino Center||9 p.m.|
|Friday, Jan. 12||at Bakersfield||Rabobank Arena||9 p.m.|
All times Central. Visit ChicagoWolves.com for a complete broadcast schedule; all games stream on AHLLive.com.