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.
The Final Countdown
The Chicago Wolves have just nine games remaining in regular-season play and their magic number to clinch a postseason position is down to 11.
The final nine will be no cakewalk as the Wolves face Central Division opponents in eight of those contests. Additionally, three of those foes — the Iowa Wild, Milwaukee Admirals and Rockford IceHogs — are in the heart of the battle as six teams are fighting for four Calder Cup Playoff spots that might not be decided until the final game of the regular season on April 15. The Admirals have the farthest to go, but cannot be counted out.
The Admirals (6-4-0-0), Grand Rapids Griffins (5-4-0-1) and IceHogs (6-2-1-1) are all above .500 in their last 10 games, while the Wild (3-4-1-2) have faltered of late.
Right now, the Wolves reside in the division’s No. 2 spot and have also been above .500 in their last 10 contests with a 6-3-0-1 record. However, Grand Rapids (3rd), Rockford (4th), Iowa (5th) — heck, even Milwaukee (6th) — are all right behind Chicago. While eight points separate the No. 2 Wolves and No. 5 Wild, the Admirals are just two points behind the Wild after throttling them 7-2 on Sunday night.
Chicago can do itself a huge service by accruing as many head-to-head points as possible. As the Wolves have participated in just 15 overtime and shootout games — only the Manitoba Moose (13) have skated in fewer — they own a better ROW (regulation/overtime wins) than Grand Rapids (32), Iowa (29), Rockford (29) and Milwaukee (24).
The Wolves continue their quest for a 19th postseason berth on Wednesday, March 28, when they host the Wild for the final time at Allstate Arena this season. Chicago is 3-3-0-0 against Iowa this season and looking to push a four-season series win streak to five. To do so, the Wolves will need a win Wednesday at Allstate and get back on track at Wells Fargo Arena where the team has played historically well until this season — they own just one win at Wells Fargo. Prior to 2017-18, Chicago owned just two losses — including one in overtime — at that venue
The 24-year-old backstopped the Wolves for two wins last week — both in extra time. Dansk also produced a 1.92 goals-against average and .925 save percentage in the games on March 22 and 25. He made 19 saves on Tuesday as T.J. Tynan powered the Chicago Wolves past his former team, the Cleveland Monsters. On Sunday, Dansk made 30 saves and stopped all three shootout attempts for the Wolves to finish off the Griffins in the season-series finale.
In a two-point performance on Sunday, the 24-year-old netted the game-tying goal with just 31 seconds on the clock to force overtime against the Grand Rapids Griffins. He also aided in the setup of Teemu Pulkkinen’s goal that began the Wolves’ third-period rally. Through four games, Leslie averaged 1 shot per game, collected three points (G, 2A) and a +1 plus/minus rating.
The Toronto native produced two goals to give him a team-leading 27 tallies — that total also lands him in a three-way tie for the No. 4 spot in goal-scoring across the AHL. Aside from accruing 10 shots on goal in four games, Pirri was the lone scorer in Sunday’s shootout against the Grand Rapids Griffins. His goal — paired with three saves from Oscar Dansk — allowed the Wolves to finish the season series versus Grand Rapids with a 6-2-0-0 record.
The 26-year-old Finn averaged a point per game through four games last weekend. Pulkkinen also joined Brandon Pirri in the Chicago Wolves’ 20-goal scorer club. He finished the wee k with 14 shots on goal, three goals and a +1 plus/minus rating. Pulkkinen owns seven goals and 11 points in the last 10 games.
Sunday, March 25 (at) Chicago 2, Grand Rapids 2 SO
- Chicago rallied to cap the season series with a shootout victory.
- Forward Teemu Pulkkinen kicked off the rally just 3:32 into the third frame.
- With 31 seconds to play, defenseman Zac Leslie netted the game-tying goal.
- Center Brandon Pirri was the lone scorer in the shootout.
- Goaltender Oscar Dansk made 30 saves and stopped all three shootout attempts for the win.
Saturday, March 24 (at) Rockford 5, Chicago 3
- The Wolves fell to the IceHogs for the third straight Illinois Lottery Cup contest.
- Forward Teemu Pulkkinen netted two goals while Brandon Pirri accounted for the third.
- Goaltender Max Lagace made 33 saves in his second straight start.
- Chicago extended its road win streak to seven games to match the longest such stint in the AHL this season.
- Captain Paul Thompson netted two goals while Jake Bischoff, Tomas Hyka and Brandon Pirri accounted for the other three scores.
- In just his second game since returning to the Wolves, Max Lagace made a season-high 39 saves for the win.
Tuesday, March 20 Chicago 3, (at) Cleveland 2 (OT)
- The Wolves extended their series win streak against the Monsters to six games.
- Center T.J. Tynan netted the game-winning goal 1:05 into overtime.
- Forwards Stefan Matteau and Wade Megan accounted for Chicago’s regulation goals.
- Goaltender Oscar Dansk made 19 saves for the victory.
|Wednesday, March 28||vs. Iowa||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.||Tickets|
|Saturday, March 31||vs. Texas||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.||Tickets|
|Tuesday, April 3||vs. Milwaukee||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.||Tickets|
|Friday, April 6||at Iowa||Wells Fargo Arena||7 p.m.||Watch|
|Saturday, April 7||vs. Milwaukee||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.||Tickets|