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 days, games and magic number keep ticking down for the Chicago Wolves. They enter Week 27 of the regular season just three points shy of punching their ticket to the postseason for the 19th time in 24 years. If the Wolves can push over the teetering Milwaukee Admirals on Tuesday night at Allstate Arena — Milwaukee is 5-5-0-0 in its last 10 games, sitting fifth in the division and hoping for a Hail Mary to make it into the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs — they’ll secure their spot.
A win on Tuesday would also move the Chicago two points up on the Grand Rapids Griffins and Manitoba Moose — with one game in hand — in the Central Division race. That would push the team’s magic number to clinch the team’s ninth division title to 9. However, if the Wolves can run the table for the final seven games of the regular season, they have a chance to retain the division crown and mark just the second time in franchise history the team has captured back-to-back division titles. Chicago procured consecutive titles in 1998 and 1999 as a member of the International Hockey League.
For the Wolves, every game matters down the stretch as every game is a head-to-head matchup with teams they are looking to take points from. Chicago has three contests remaining with Milwaukee — April 3, 7 and 10 — and will conclude its season series with the Iowa Wild on Friday, April 6. Both Iowa and Milwaukee are on the outside looking to claw their way into a playoff spot. Both teams have faltered of late — Milwaukee is 5-5-0-0 while Iowa is 2-7-0-1 in their last 10 games.
The Wolves have a home-and-home series — April 13 and 14 — remaining against their Illinois Lottery Cup rival, the Rockford IceHogs. Rockford has been the Central’s best of team of late with an 8-1-1-0 record in its last 10 games. The IceHogs also outscored opponents 36-27 in that time.
Chicago caps its regular season with a final faceoff against Manitoba on April 15. Prior to the Wolves ending Manitoba’s 133-day reign as the Central’s Division team, the Moose were nearly unstoppable. They also have had tremendous success against Chicago this season with a 5-2-0-0 record. The Moose have held the Wolves to .286 points percentage in the season series, the lowest for Chicago against any opponent this season. The Wolves will look to punctuate their regular season with a win over their most stubborn foe of the year.
The 26-year-old Bennett has enjoyed a career year with 49 points (11G, 38A) in 54 games. Through two games last week, the California native netted one goal and logged eight shots on net. Bennett has continued to shine in the faceoff circle boasting a 53 percent success rate through his last two games — a necessary weapon with Chicago’s top two centers — Wade Megan and T.J. Tynan — sidelined for last week’s games.
The native of Sweden was easily the Chicago Wolves’ top performer on Saturday night. Although Chicago lost in a shootout, Holm helped lead the D Corps that was skating without veteran Jason Garrison. In that game, he collected one assist, one shot on goal and +1 plus/minus rating. On Wednesday, the 24-year-old registered two shots on goal and a +1 plus/minus rating for three SOG and a +2 plus/minus rating for the week.
With the Chicago Wolves really missing the presence of Wade Megan and T.J. Tynan, the 25-year-old Hyka has been helping pick up the slack on the top line. The native of the Czech Republic was held off the scoresheet on Saturday, which ended his latest scoring streak at five games. However, he was Chicago’s lone scorer in the shootout but it wasn’t enough as the team fell 2-1 to the Texas Stars.
The Toronto native netted goals No. 28 and 29 on Wednesday and Saturday to keep him in the mix among the top five scorers in the American Hockey League. Pirri also owns six goals in his last eight games. Through 14 games in the month of March, Pirri was only held off the scoresheet three times.
Saturday, March 31 Texas 2, Chicago 1 (SO)
- Chicago dropped the season series with Texas for the fth time in 10 seasons.
- Center Brandon Pirri was the Wolves’ lone regulation scorer while Tomas Hyka recorded Chicago’s only successful shootout attempt.
- Center Jake Dowling scored in regulation while both Brian Flynn and Travis Morin tallied in the shootout for the Stars victory.
- Goaltender Oscar Dansk made 24 saves and stopped one attempt in the shootout.
Wednesday, March 28 (at) Chicago 3, Iowa 1
- The Wolves beat the Wild for the second time this season at Allstate Arena.
- Forwards Beau Bennett, Brandon Pirri and captain Paul Thompson scored for Chicago.
- Goaltender Oscar Dansk made 27 saves in his 10th victory of the season.
|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|
|Tuesday, April 10||at. Milwaukee||UWM Panther Arena||7 p.m.||Watch|
|Friday, April 13||at. Rockford||BMO Harris Bank Center||7 p.m.||Watch|