Friday, April 6 | 7:00 p.m. | Wells Fargo Arena | Facebook
ELUSIVE No. 19
The Chicago Wolves enter Friday’s game looking to finally slay the dragon and clinch the franchise’s 19th postseason berth in its 24-year history. The Wolves have been balancing on the verge of clinching since Tuesday when they faced the Milwaukee Admirals as Allstate Arena. All Chicago needed was a regulation victory to punch its 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs ticket. However, the merciless Admirals had other plans and sailed out of Rosemont with a shootout victory. And although the last-place Cleveland Monsters shut out the Iowa Wild the previous night, they could not smother the Admirals on Wednesday. The ball is back in Chicago’s court as they can earn that X with a win in Des Moines.
WELLS IS WHERE THE WINS WERE
Wells Fargo Arena used to be a haven for the visiting Chicago Wolves as they rarely lost in the building. In four years of competition prior to this season, the Wolves only lost once in regulation to the Wild. That changed for the 2017-18 campaign and Chicago is looking to break even at Wells Fargo. Overall, even with a victory, the best record the Wolves can take the season series with is 5-3-0-0 which is just a .625 points percentage. It will be the first season since the clubs began competing that Chicago will finish with less than .778 points percentage in the series
THINGS ARE LOOKING UP
Since the Chicago Wolves dropped a 4-1 decision to the Iowa Wild on Feb. 9, their road game has been much-improved. Including that setback, the Wolves were just 8-10-5-2 on the road. However, since Feb. 21 — their first road game since Feb. 9 — Chicago owns an 8-2-0-0 record. Overall, the team has produced a 16-12-5-2 road record for a .557 points percentage. That’s a big improvement from the .460 points percentage they were hauling through the first four months of the season.
BEAU-NUS ON THE DOT
With three of Chicago’s four regular centers injured — including their top two, Wade Megan and T.J. Tynan — Beau Bennett has risen to the top of the center depth chart and has more than pulled his weight. Since March 28 — when both Megan and Tynan were out of the lineup — Bennett has won 61.7 percent of his draws. On Tuesday — when Tobias Lindberg also was missing from the 19-man game roster — Bennett won 75 percent of his draws.
This year’s rookie class is highlighted by 23-year-old defenseman Jake Bischoff, who leads the first years with 20 points (5G, 15A) in 65 games. He also leads the team with a +19 plus/minus rating. While this season’s rookies have been solid — the group also includes Reid Duke, Kevin Lough, Keegan Kolesar, Ryan Wagner and Tyler Wong — they have not been required to produce as much as the Wolves’ 2016-17 rookie class. This season’s greenhorns have accrued 63 points (17G, 46A) and accounted for 10.9 percent of the Chicago Wolves’ point production. For comparison, last season’s group nabbed 175 points (75G, 100A) and registered more than a quarter — 26.2 percent — of the team’s points. Additionally, rookies Samuel Blais and Vince Dunn combined for 88 points (39G, 49A) — 25 points more than this season’s entire class
By the Numbers:
- 100: On Tuesday, forward Bryce Gervais skated in his 100th American Hockey League game. The 26-year-old Saskatchewan native has skated exclusively for the Chicago Wolves in his pro career. Following the conclusion of his senior season with the University of Minnesota Mavericks in March 2016, Gervais signed a professional tryout contract with the Wolves and appeared in 10 games. His performance — he collected six points and four goals — earned him a two-year standard player contract set to begin in the 2016-17 campaign. In his first full season, Gervais captured 21 points (13G, 8A) and was the team’s third-highest scoring rookie. He also tied the team’s top rookie — Vince Dunn — in goal production. Both were 13 markers behind the team’s best goal-scoring rookie, Samuel Blais. This season, Gervais has dressed for 30 games — exactly half of his games last season — and his average production has been halved. Through 60 games in 2016-17, Gervais averaged 0.35 points per game and in 30 games this season he’s averaging 0.17 points per game.
- 106: Forward Teemu Pulkkinen is as even-keel as they come. Through 235 American Hockey League games, the 26-year-old Finn owns 106 goals and 106 assists for 212 points. His 23 goals and 32 assists for 55 points put him on the verge of passing T.J. Tynan as the Chicago Wolves’ top point producer of the season. Tynan hasn’t seen game action since March 24. Pulkkinen has also moved into a three-way tie for the No. 14 spot on the AHL scoring leaderboard.
- 125: Chicago Wolves captain Paul Thompson netted his 125th American Hockey League goal in Tuesday’s shootout setback against the Milwaukee Admirals. That contest also marked the captain’s 450th AHL game. The tally was Thompson’s 21st of the season — his 20th marker on March 28 made him the third Chicago player to hit the 20- goal plateau. His 21 goals rank third among Wolves goal-scorers and his 34 points place him seventh in team scoring.
- 300: Center Beau Bennett’s next game will be his 300th professional game. The majority of the 26-year-old’s time has been spent in the National Hockey League where he has 200 games under his belt. He reached the 200 NHL game milestone earlier this season on Nov. 13 when he skated for the St. Louis Blues against the Calgary Flames. Bennett’s game will also be his 100th AHL contest. The California native is also enjoying a career year as he hit the 50-point mark for the first time in his six professional seasons. He also has eclipsed all of his career-bests with 51 points, 40 assists and 11 goals.
- 435: On Tuesday, center Brandon Pirri returned to the National Hockey League and scored two goals in his Vegas Golden Knights debut. His first goal — just 4:28 into the game — marked his first NHL goal in 435 days. Pirri’s last NHL goal came on Jan. 23, 2017, against the Los Angeles Kings when he was a member of the New York Rangers. The Toronto native’s second goal on Tuesday — 3:27 into the second period — was his 100th NHL point. In his second game on Thursday, Pirri again scored. The 26-year-old owns 60 goals and 41 assists through 228 NHL contests. His debut on Tuesday also marked his first NHL game in just under a year — 359 days. This is Pirri’s first recall of the season and he is expected to remain with the Golden Knights for the duration of their Western Canada road trip.
- The Wolves suffered their third extra time and second shootout loss against the Admirals.
- Forwards Teemu Pulkkinen, Brett Sterling and Paul Thompson scored for Chicago.
- Milwaukee’s Trevor Smith was the sole scorer in the shootout to give the Admirals the win.
- Goaltender Oscar Dansk made 30 saves and stopped one of two shootout attempts in the loss.
- Chicago dropped the season series with Texas for the fifth 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.
|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|
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March 28, 2018
|11/26/2017||Allstate Arena||L, 4-6|
|12/16/2017||Allstate Arena||W, 6-3|
|01/01/2018||Wells Fargo Arena||W, 2-1|
|01/17/2018||Wells Fargo Arena||L, 2-5|
|02/09/2018||Wells Fargo Arena||L, 4-1|
|03/18/2018||Allstate Arena||W, 7-3|
|03/28/2018||Allstate Arena||W, 3-1|
|04/06/2018||Wells Fargo Arena|