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GET THIS SHOW ON THE ROAD!
This weekend marks the Chicago Wolves’ first trip to AT&T Center in 2017-18. However, Friday’s game will be the third of four meetings between the Wolves and San Antonio Rampage this season. The Rampage charged into the Allstate Arena and took the first two series games with identical 2-1 scores. Given the series history, their 2-0-0-0 record in Rosemont wasn’t all that surprising — Chicago has dropped both home games against San Antonio twice in the last three seasons. Conversely, the Wolves have won both road games — at AT&T Center — the last two seasons and have not posted a series road record below .500 since the 2011-12 campaign.
BATHING SUIT SEASON
In recent weeks, the Chicago Wolves roster swelled to nearly 30 players. Beginning Tuesday, the roster started to slim down again. Forward Tomas Hyka — who had been returned on loan to the club just three days earlier — was recalled on a emergency basis. The 24-year-old was not in Chicago’s lineup on Tuesday when they stared down the Texas Stars for their first win in the season series. Following the game, forward Brandon McNally was released from his professional tryout contract — the Dartmouth alumnus joined the Wolves in Manitoba and skated in two games. On Thursday, the team announced forward Christian Hilbrich and defenseman Nolan Valleau were released from their PTOs. The latter was the longer-tenured of the pair as he signed on Feb. 2. Hilbrich joined the Wolves while they were in Grand Rapids on Feb. 21.
KEEP IT GOIN’
During February, the Chicago Wolves power play was the best it has been all season as it clocked in with a 32.5 percent success rate during the month. That’s 10 percentage points better than the team’s previous best one-month power-play performance: back in October, the Wolves posted a 22.5 percent conversion rate. In February, Chicago netted 13 power-play goals — that’s 30 percent of this season’s power-play scoring — and scored at least one man-advantage marker in six of its 10 games. Additionally, the Wolves scored multiple power-play goals in a season-high five games last month. Given their PP showing of late, the team may pot a man-advantage tally or two against the San Antonio Rampage. If the Wolves capitalize on power plays against the Rampage, it will be the first time this season they do so. The Wolves are 0 for 8 on the power play against San Antonio this season.
BULLS IN A CHINA SHOP
Through the first two games of the season series, the San Antonio Rampage’s top series scorers are both former Chicago Wolves: Andrew Agozzino and Samuel Blais. Last season, the duo combined for 97 points (44G, 53A) for Chicago. Blais led team rookies in goals and finished second on the Wolves in goals behind Wade Megan, the league’s top goal-scorer. Agozzino finished third in team scoring behind Megan (33-33—66) and the league’s leading point producer, Kenny Agostino (24-59—83).
By the Numbers:
- 5: The Chicago Wolves are one of the least-penalized teams in the American Hockey League this season. The club’s top penalty-minute logger is captain Paul Thompson, who owns 86 penalty minutes on the year. His per-game average, 1.86, also leads the team. However, the captain has managed to stay out the penalty box for the last five straight games — the feat marks his longest stretch without a seat in the sin bin all season. The last time Thompson was whistled for an infraction was against the San Antonio Rampage on Feb. 17. In that contest, he received just a two-minute minor for tripping. Two games earlier — Feb. 9 against the Iowa Wild — Captain Thompson tallied 12 PIM. It was one of just two games this season in which he has logged double-digit minutes. Thompson’s 86 minutes rank him 16th among all AHL skaters — he shares that rank with former Chicago Wolves player Emerson Clark, who is now with the San Jose Barracuda.
- 8: Center T.J. Tynan keeps creeping up the American Hockey League scoring leaderboard. His 47 points (11G, 36A) ranks him eighth among the league’s leading scorers — a distinction he shares with the Providence Bruins’ Austin Czarnik (14G, 33A). The 26-year-old Tynan is now just nine points behind the league’s leading scorer, Phil Varone (17-39—56) of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, and is on pace for a 65-point season. Right now, Tynan is just one point shy of matching his career-best point output that he set as a rookie in the 2014-15 season with the Springfield Falcons. Additionally, he’s two goals and four assists shy of his career-bests in both categories.
- 10: Another Chicago Wolves player stealthily moving up the American Hockey League leaderboards is center Brandon Pirri. The John B. Sollenberger Trophy winner as the league’s top point producer in 2012-13, there is little surprise the 26-year-old Pirri is among the league’s top 10 goal scorers. Pirri — as well as seven other skaters — is ranked 10th among the AHL’s top goal-scorers with 21 tallies. For Pirri, one-third of those goals have come on the power play and those seven goals also put him among the league’s top 10 power-play goal-scorers. Just four goals separate Pirri and the league’s top goal-scorer, the Charlotte Checkers’ Valentin Zykov. Of the goal-scorers who rank among the top 10 in the league, Pirri and the Texas Stars’ Curtis McKenzie have played the fewest games with 40 apiece. Of those with at least 21 goals, Pirri and McKenzie are sporting the best goals-per-game average (0.53). Their averages are better than Zykov’s, who’s only scoring at a 0.48 rate. If Pirri maintains his current goal-scoring pace, the Toronto native will finish the season with 32 tallies.
- 40: Fifty-five games into the season and just two Chicago Wolves have appeared in all of them: Paul Thompson and T.J. Tynan. Tynan has collected 26 (4G, 22A) of his team-leading 47 points (11G, 36A) since Jan. 1. In since that date, he has also recorded eight multi-point games, including a four-assist effort on Jan. 20 against the Bakersfield Condors that marked his personal-best for points in a game. When the 26-year-old scored his 40th point of the season on Feb. 15 against his former team — the Cleveland Monsters — it marked his fourth consecutive 40-point season in four full seasons of professional play. Thompson, named team captain on Nov. 19, has been a workhorse for the Wolves. The 29-year-old ranks third in team goal-scoring — behind Brandon Pirri (21) and Teemu Pulkkinen (15) — with 14 goals and stands seventh in team scoring with 27 points.
Tuesday, Feb. 27 (at) Chicago 4, Texas 3 (SO)
- Chicago won its 15th of 16 games on home ice with its first shootout victory of the season.
- The team’s top scorer, T.J. Tynan, delivered the winning shootout goal while netminder Oscar Dansk stopped former Wolves captain Brent Regner’s attempt to clinch the victory.
- Center Brandon Pirri scored in regulation and the shootout while Bryce Gervais and Keegan Kolesar accounted for Chicago’s other two goals in regulation.
- In the crease, Dansk made 20 saves during 65 minutes of game action and stopped two of three attempts in the shootout.
Sunday, Feb. 25 Chicago 5, (at) Manitoba 2
- The Wolves upended the Moose for the second time this season and the first at Bell MTS Place.
- Forwards Beau Bennett (G, 2A) and Teemu Pulkkinen (2G, A) each recorded three-point efforts while T.J. Tynan netted his league-leading fourth short-handed goal.
- Defenseman Zac Leslie accounted for the fifth goal, his second since being acquired by the Wolves.
- Goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo made 36 saves for the win.
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Feb. 17, 2018
|11/11/2017||Allstate Arena||L, 1-2|
|02/17/2018||Allstate Arena||L, 1-2|