Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018 | 2:00 p.m. | Facebook
Get ‘Em While They’re Down
Saturday is the first time the Chicago Wolves and Manitoba Moose have met since Jan. 5 when Chicago earned its first victory of the season over the Moose. Since that game, the Wolves own an 11-5-1-0 record that includes wins over Bakersfield, Cleveland, Grand Rapids, Milwaukee, Rockford and Tucson. Chicago’s success that ultimately began in the thick of the December holiday season has the Wolves jockeying with Grand Rapids and Iowa between the No. 2, 3 and 4 spots in the Central Division. While the Moose still have a firm grasp on the No. 1 spot in the division, they have not been as dominant as they were at the beginning on the season. The Moose own a 4-4-1-1 record in their last 10 games and that includes back-to-back shutout losses to the Griffins — Grand Rapids outscored Manitoba 6-0 in those games. Manitoba did win its most recent game, a 6-3 victory over the Milwaukee Admirals on Wednesday.
The last time the Chicago Wolves and Manitoba Moose met, it was a wild night. While the score suggested a relatively average game — a 4-3 victory for the Wolves — the win was Chicago’s first of the season against Manitoba to end a three-game winless streak and drop the Central Division Goliath that owned the AHL’s best record. The contest also featured two natural hat tricks, a short-handed penalty shot, a game-tying goal with two seconds left in regulation and a game-winning goal less than a minute into the 3-on-3 overtime frame. Wolves forward Brandon Pirri and Moose forward Buddy Robinson went goal-for-goal to force the game to extra time. There was also 36 minutes in penalties and 28 of those minutes belonged to the Moose. The Wolves — one of the AHL’s least-penalized teams this season — only logged eight.
Can’t Have Just One
On Wednesday, rookie forward Keegean Kolesar returned to the Chicago Wolves lineup for the first time since Jan. 17 when the Vegas Golden Knights assigned him to the ECHL’s Quad City Mallards. Prior to his departure, the 20-year-old Winnipeg native skated in 19 games for the Wolves and owned just one AHL point, his first, which was an assist. When Chicago was in Grand Rapids looking to take the season series against the Griffins for the first time in six seasons, Kolesar chipped in and scored his first AHL goal less than five minutes into the second period. However, Kolesar didn’t stop at just one. In the final minutes of the game, he battled the Cleveland defenders in their own end and outworked them for his second goal, an empty-netter, of the game and his AHL career.
By the Numbers:
- 2/3: The Chicago Wolves recently passed the two-thirds mark of the 2017-18 season and, with the 62 points they have amassed in 52 games, the Wolves are on pace for 90.6 points. That means Chicago could finish the regular season with their 14th 90-plus point season in their 24-year history
- 20: On Wednesday, center Brandon Pirri returned to the Chicago Wolves lineup for the first time since Jan. 27. The 26-year-old wasted no time getting back in the groove and netted two goals to became the Chicago Wolves’ first 20-goal scorer of the 2017- 18 campaign. This is the fourth time Pirri has hit the 20-goal mark — he did so once in the National Hockey League when he was second in team goal-scoring for the Florida Panthers during the 2014-15 season and two other times (2011-12, 12-13) in the American Hockey League when he skated for the Rockford IceHogs.
- 4: Goaltender Oscar Dansk made 39 saves to backstop the Wolves to their fourth consecutive victory — third at Van Andel Arena — over the Grand Rapids Griffins on Wednesday. The performance set a new season-high in saves for the Wolves. The contest was just Dansk’s third with the Wolves since returning from an injury he suffered on Oct. 30 while playing for the Vegas Golden Knights. Since being returned on loan to the Wolves by Vegas on Jan. 24, the 23-year-old has three wins in as many starts. The season-high for saves was previously held by Kasimir Kaskisuo and C.J. Motte when they made 36 saves on Oct. 27 against Grand Rapids and Nov. 19 versus the Rockford IceHogs, respectively.
- 44: Forward T.J. Tynan leads the Chicago Wolves with 44 points (10G, 34A), but on the morning of Jan. 20, the 25-year-old owned 26 points (8 goals, 18 assists). That total put him eight points behind the No. 20 scorer in the American Hockey League. Since Jan. 20, Tynan has piled up six multi-point efforts in 11 games and has amassed two goals and 16 assists during that stretch to leap into a tie for 10th place among the AHL points leaders (10-34–44). The Illinois native also ranks sixth in the league with 34 assists. Tynan could be one point higher in both categories, but he volunteered that teammate Beau Bennett deserved an assist with which he was credited when the Wolves beat Cleveland on Feb. 15.
- 300: On Wednesday, forward Teemu Pulkkinen skated in his 300th career professional game. Ironically, that milestone came against the Grand Rapids Griffins, the team the 25-year-old Finn began his North American pro career with in 2012 after being drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2010 NHL Draft. Pulkkinen came to the United States for two regular-season games with Grand Rapids during the 2012-13 season. He then appeared in 14 Calder Cup Playoff games and accrued five points (3G, 2A) en route to the Griffins’ first Calder Cup. This season marks Pulkkinen’s sixth in North America.
- The Wolves won their fourth consecutive game over the Griffins to take the season series for the first time since the 2011-12 season.
- Rookie Keegan Kolesar netted his first two AHL goals while Chicago’s leading scorer, veteran Brandon Pirri, also collected a pair of goals to reach 20 on the season.
- Forward Beau Bennett accounted for the Wolves’ fifth goal as they converted their first three power plays.
- Goaltender Oscar Dansk made 39 saves to set a new season-high for team netminders and earn his third victory in as many starts.
- Chicago pushed its series win streak to five consecutive games against Cleveland.
- Defenseman Zac Leslie netted his first goal as a member of the Wolves.
- Forwards Beau Bennett, Wade Megan and Brett Sterling and blueliner Kevin Lough also scored.
- Goaltender Oscar Dansk earned his second win in as many starts with a 19-save performance.
FOLLOW. LISTEN. WATCH.Listen on Facebook LIVE Watch on AHL LIVE
Jan. 5, 2018
|10/25/2017||Allstate Arena||L, 1-3|
|11/15/2017||Bell MTS Place||L, 3-2|
|11/17/2017||Bell MTS Place||L, 4-6|
|01/05/2018||Allstate Arena||W (OT), 4-3|
|02/24/2018||Bell MTS Place|
|02/25/2018||Bell MTS Place|