April 7, 2018 | 7:00 p.m. | Allstate Arena | CW50 | Facebook
WIN AND WOLVES ARE IN
The Chicago Wolves’ magic number to earn a spot in the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs sits at 2. With a win over the Milwaukee Admirals Saturday night, the Wolves clinch the team’s 19th playoff berth in 24 seasons. In fact, all four Central Division playoff spots can be decided if the Wolves win. The Manitoba Moose (88 points), who are idle today, clinch with any Admirals loss. The Rockford IceHogs (86) and Grand Rapids Griffins (86), both of which play on the road tonight, can clinch with a win and any Ads loss — or they can clinch with an overtime or shootout loss provided Milwaukee loses in regulation.
The race for the Central Division is still wide open. The Chicago Wolves occupy the No. 1 spot, but by just .002 percentage points over the Manitoba Moose in the standings. If the Wolves (87 points in 71 games) don’t win tonight, then the Manitoba Moose (88 points in 72 games) regain first place because the Moose own 39 regulation and overtime wins compared to Chicago’s 36. Meanwhile, the Rockford IceHogs and Grand Rapids Griffins are tied for third with 86 points in 72 games and also have a chance to claim the crown. The IceHogs and Griffins both own 33 ROW, which is the first tiebreaker.
HANG IN THERE
For the Chicago Wolves, ending the season as the Central Division’s No. 1 seed would mean the team’s ninth division title in 24 years. It would also be just the second time in franchise history the club captured back-to-back titles. They last achieved the feat as members of the International Hockey League in 1998 and 1999.
On Friday, the Vegas Golden Knights returned center Brandon Pirri on loan to the Chicago Wolves. The 26-year-old Pirri appeared in two NHL games for the Golden Knights. In his Vegas debut on April 3 against the Vancouver Canucks, Pirri netted two goals. His second goal of the contest was his 100th NHL point. Two days later, he scored again when the Golden Knights faced the Edmonton Oilers and that tally was his career 60th NHL goal. Pirri returns to Chicago leading the team and sharing fifth in the league with 29 goals. He stands fourth on the squad in scoring with 51 points.
IRON MAN 2
Friday night marked forward T.J. Tynan’s first game since March 24. Prior to missing four games, the 26-year-old was one of two iron men for the Chicago Wolves this season. Captain Paul Thompson still holds the distinction as he is the only Wolves player to appear in all 71 games thus far. His personal AHL iron-man streak extends back to Feb. 11, 2017, and he has appeared in 100 consecutive games. If Thompson finishes the regular season in the lineup, his streak will reach 105 games.
By the Numbers:
- .500: The 2017-18 campaign marks the first time since the Chicago Wolves and Iowa Wild began competing in 2013 that the Wolves finished the season series with a point percentage less than .750. This is also the first time Chicago suffered multiple regulation losses at Wells Fargo Arena. In the last two seasons, the Wolves have lost four times at the Wild’s stomping grounds — a high number when it’s considered until the 2016-17 season, Chicago had not lost in regulation to Iowa at Wells Fargo.
- 2: Friday’s contest against the Iowa Wild at Wells Fargo Arena saw two goaltenders between the pipes for the Chicago Wolves. Max Lagace made his first start since March 24 and only lasted 9:48 into the game as he allowed three goals on nine shots in that span. CCM/AHL Goaltender of the Month for March Oscar Dansk entered the game and gave up a goal in his first 1:31 of action and proceeded to allowed two goals on three shots. Friday marked the second time this season Chicago needed two goaltenders in a game against the Wild. On Feb. 17, Lagace played 35:53 until he was forced to head to the dressing room due to injury and Kasimir Kaskisuo took over in net. Friday night, after Lagace and Dansk split the first frame, head coach Rocky Thompson elected to begin the second period with Lagace back in the crease. Lagace finished the game and made 17 saves total.
- 3: In Friday’s 7-3 loss to the Iowa Wild, the Chicago Wolves allowed their opponent three power-play goals. That contest was just the third time the Wolves have allowed an opponent that many man-advantage markers in a single game. The first occasion was against the same opponent back on Dec. 16. Though Chicago gave up three PPG in that game, it was still able to overcome the Wild for a 6-3 victory. The next game was Feb. 15 against the Cleveland Monsters, who are now last place in the Western Conference. The Wolves also managed to be victorious in that contest as they edged the Monsters 4-3.
- 4: On Friday, forward T.J. Tynan returned to the Chicago Wolves lineup for the first time since March 24. During Tynan’s four-game absence, the Wolves accrued a 2-0-0-2 record and tacked three more one-goal games to their record for a season total of 36. The 26-year old’s presence on the faceoff dot was definitely missed, but wing-turned-center Beau Bennett’s performance in the circle helped lessen the blow of Tynan’s absence.
- 5: Friday night marked the first time the Chicago Wolves allowed five goals in a period dating back to at least the 2011-12 season. This season, the Wolves had only given up more than three goals in a period once — when they gave up four in the second period to the Rockford IceHogs on March 24. Before that date, the Wolves had given up three goals in one period a dozen times.
- 21: Until Gerald Mayhew scored with 1:10 to play in the first period on Friday, the Chicago Wolves had killed 21 consecutive penalties. That stretch spanned six games dating back to March 24 against the Rockford IceHogs. It also included two games in which the Wolves were a perfect 6 for 6. Those back-to-back games on March 25 and 28 against the Grand Rapids Griffins and Iowa Wild, respectively, are two of seven contests this season in which Chicago has killed at least six penalties. However, six is the most penalty kills the Wolves have had in a game and remained perfect while a man down.
- Chicago missed a chance to clinch a playoff berth as Iowa scored five goals in the first period.
- Forwards Stefan Matteau, Teemu Pulkkinen and Beau Bennett scored the goals while Brett Sterling handed out two assists.
- Goaltender Max Lagace (17 saves) started and finished the game, but Oscar Dansk (1 save) took the loss as he allowed two goals while playing the final 10 minutes of the first period.
- 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.
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April 3, 2018
|10/28/2017||Allstate Arena||W, 2-1|
|11/08/2017||UMW Panther Arena||L, 0-3|
|11/12/2017||Allstate Arena||L, 2-3|
|11/24/2017||UMW Panther Arena||OTL, 2-3|
|12/17/2017||Allstate Arena||W, 4-2|
|12/27/2017||UMW Panther Arena||W, 3-2 (OT)|
|12/29/2017||UMW Panther Arena||SOL, 2-3|
|02/02/2018||Allstate Arena||W, 4-1|
|03/09/2018||UMW Panther Arena||W, 4-3|
|04/03/2018||Allstate Arena||SOL, 3-4|
|04/10/2018||UMW Panther Arena|