Tuesday, March 20, 2018 | 6:00 p.m. | Quicken Loans Arena
This week, the Chicago Wolves and Cleveland Monsters face off in their final two games of the season series as the Wolves visit Quicken Loans Arena for the last time during the 2017-18 campaign. Chicago is on the hunt for a strong finish after it opened the eight-game set with a 3-2 loss at The Q on Dec. 8. However, since Dec. 9 — when the Wolves served the Monsters a shutout — Chicago has left Cleveland in its rearview mirror with five consecutive wins.
On Tuesday, the Chicago Wolves can move one step closer to making franchise history in their all-time regular-season series — Chicago comes into Tuesday’s contest with a five-game win streak versus Cleveland on the line. The Wolves are two games shy of tying their longest win streak against the Monsters — a seven-game stretch that spanned three seasons from March 17, 2012 to Dec. 27, 2013. Then the Lake Erie era, the Wolves outscored the Monsters 24-9 in the stretch and shut them out twice.
The Chicago Wolves’ five straight victories against the Cleveland Monsters this season is Chicago’s longest active win streak against a single opponent. The Wolves look this week to push that win streak to seven games to match their all-time win streak against the Monsters. If Chicago can get two Ws, then that would keep alive the possibility of surpassing their franchise record 10-game winning streak versus an opponent. Twice achieved, the Wolves most recently rattled off 10 consecutive victories against the San Antonio Rampage 13 years ago — March 31, 2004 to Jan 8, 2005.
CREAM OF THE CROP
Since joining the Chicago Wolves on Feb. 5, defenseman Zac Leslie has been the team’s most productive blueliner. Among the seven active defensemen on Chicago’s roster, the 24-year-old Leslie owns the most points with 10 (3G, 7A) through 14 games. He has appeared in all but two games since his arrival. Leslie’s goals include two game-winning tallies and a power-play marker. Additionally, the native of Ontario has logged a +4 plus/minus rating — second to Jake Bischoff (+11) — and four penalty minutes — only Chris Casto has been less penalized (2 PIM). Only three defensemen — Jason Garrison (15), Kevin Lough (15) and Griffin Reinhart (16) — have appeared in more games than Leslie since he joined the team. Prior to being acquired by the Vegas Golden Knights via trade with the Los Angeles Kings, Leslie skated in 26 games for the Ontario Reign and registered just five points (G, 4A).
By the Numbers:
- 1: On Sunday, goaltender Max Lagace made his first start with the Chicago Wolves since Feb. 9 and made 25 saves en route to his first victory since Jan. 12. The 25-year-old improved his record to 12-4-2 with the Wolves and now owns a 2.67 goals-against average and .906 save percentage. Recalled from loan on Feb. 26 by the Vegas Golden Knights, Lagace appeared in two games for the Golden Knights — Feb. 27 against the Los Angeles Kings and March 14 versus the New Jersey Devils.
- 3: Defenseman Zac Leslie collected three assists in Sunday’s 7-3 victory over the Iowa Wild. The feat marked professional career-highs in both points and assists in one game for the 24-year-old. The three-point effort was also Leslie’s third multi-point performance since joining the Wolves on Feb. 5 and fourth of the 2017-18 campaign.
- 6: Forward Teemu Pulkkinen has registered six goals and six assists for 12 points in the last 10 games. Dating back to Feb. 25 against the Manitoba Moose, the 26-year-old has captured three multi-point performances including three-point outings on Feb. 25 and March 18 — both consisting of two goals and an assist. Those 12 points have helped Pulkkinen maintain his standing as the Wolves’ No. 2 point producer and goal scorer with 49 points and 19 goals — he is just five points behind T.J. Tynan (12-42—54) and six goals behind Brandon Pirri (25-22—47). The trio is 1-2-3 in team scoring.
- 28: Forward Tomas Hyka went exactly one month — Feb. 18 to March 18 — between American Hockey League points. The 24-year-old returned on loan from the Vegas Golden Knights to the Chicago Wolves on March 15 and in just his second game back on March 18, Hyka tallied two points — a goal and an assist. The Czech Republic native missed nine AHL games while with the Golden Knights. However, his 34 points (prior to Sunday) kept him fifth among Chicago players in scoring. Hyka now owns 14 goals and 22 assists but still resides No. 5 — only T.J. Tynan (12-42—54), Teemu Pulkkinen (19-30—49), Brandon Pirri (25-22—47) and Beau Bennett (10-33—43) own more points.
- 50: On Sunday, forward Stefan Matteau netted his 50th American Hockey League goal. The goal was his 13th of the season and matched his professional career-high for goals in a season. The 24-year-old ranks fifth in team goal scoring and is one of six players whose goal total is greater than their assist total. The 2012 first-round NHL draft pick is one point shy of 100 career AHL points. He owns 53 goals and 53 assists for 106 points in his professional career — AHL and NHL combined.
- 400: Forward Brett Sterling’s next game will mark his 400th in a Chicago Wolves jersey. The 33-year-old California native has spent seven of his nine seasons in the American Hockey League with the Wolves. Additionally, he has been moving up the franchise rankings. His 399 games rank him No. 3 in games played behind now-assistant coach Bob Nardella (476) and Steve Maltais (839). Sterling’s 190 goals are second in franchise goal production — only Maltais has more (454) — and his 355 points rank him fourth in franchise points — he’s sandwiched between former teammates Darren Haydar (368) and Jason Krog (342).
Sunday, March 18 (at) Chicago 7, Iowa 3
- Chicago avoided a three-game skid in the season series against Iowa.
- Forward Teemu Pulkkinen accounted for two goals and earned three points while Beau Bennett and Zac Leslie collect three assists apiece.
- Forwards Tomas Hyka, Keegan Kolesar and Stefan Matteau and defenseman Jason Garrison all contributed a goal and assist for two points each.
- Center Tobias Lindberg accounted for Chicago’s seventh marker.
- In his first appearance since Feb. 9, Max Lagace made 25 saves in the win.
Saturday, March 17 Rockford 3, (at) Chicago 2
- The Wolves fell to the IceHogs in back-to-back games for the first time this season.
- Captains Brandon Pirri and Paul Thompson scored for Chicago.
- Goaltender Oscar Dansk made 33 saves as he suffered his first regulation loss with the Wolves.
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Feb. 18, 2018
|12/08/2017||Quicken Loans Arena||L, 3-2|
|12/09/2017||Quicken Loans Arena||W, 3-0|
|01/03/2018||Allstate Arena||W, 5-3|
|01/21/2018||Allstate Arena||W, 3-1|
|02/15/2018||Allstate Arena||W, 4-3|
|02/18/2017||Allstate Arena||W, 5-3|
|03/20/2018||Quicken Loans Arena|
|03/22/2018||Quicken Loans Arena|