April 10, 2018 | 7:00 p.m. | UWM Panther Arena | Facebook
The Chicago Wolves enter Tuesday’s game with a game in hand on their three Central Division competitors — the Grand Rapids Griffins, Manitoba Moose and Rockford IceHogs — as the quartet continues to battle for divisional seeding in the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs. In addition to the battle between Chicago and the Milwaukee Admirals — the Admirals are on the outside looking in — the fourth-place Rockford IceHogs are in action against the sixth-place Iowa Wild. With a one-point edge over Manitoba and Grand Rapids and a three-point lead over Rockford, the Wolves will remain in first place Tuesday night regardless what happens in Milwaukee and Des Moines.
IF THE CROWN FITS
If the Chicago Wolves can take advantage of their game in hand Tuesday, they will be two points closer to wearing the Central Division crown at the end of the 2017-18 regular season. The Wolves just need six points in their final four games to defend their division title. If Chicago can complete the feat, it will mark just the second time the team has secured back-to-back titles in the franchise’s 24- year history. They first accomplished the feat as a member of the International Hockey League during the 1998 and 1999 seasons.
The Chicago Wolves are slowly but surely getting players back into the lineup. On Friday in Des Moines, Iowa, center T.J. Tynan returned to the lineup after a four-game absence. On Saturday, center Wade Megan returned from a four-game rest while defenseman Jason Garrison played his first contest after missing three games. Also on Saturday, center Brandon Pirri rejoined the Wolves after a two-game absence at which time he scored three goals in two games for the Vegas Golden Knights during their Western Canada road trip. The last “regular” missing from the Wolves lineup is forward Tobias Lindberg, who has missed Chicago’s last two games.
THAT’S ALL FOLKS
The Chicago Wolves and Milwaukee Admirals wrap their 12-game season series tonight with their third meeting in eight days. Coming into Tuesday’s game, the Wolves lead the set with a 6-2-1-2 record for a .682 points percentage. The Admirals are puttering along with a 5-5-1-0 record. Even if Milwaukee can muster a W, the Wolves already have taken the series. However, both teams still have a lot at stake — especially the Admirals as they’re on the outside of the 2018 Calder Cup Playoff picture looking in. With three games left — including Tuesday’s bout with the Wolves — Milwaukee needs to run the table and win its final three games for a chance to crack the final Central Division postseason berth. Although the Admirals can help themselves, they still need help from their Central Division foes, particularly the Iowa Wild as they host the fourth-place Rockford IceHogs Tuesday. Milwaukee needs Rockford to lose each of its final three games in regulation — probably not likely for a team that owns the Central’s best record over the last 10 games (8-2-0-0).
By the Numbers:
- .93: Beau Bennett, Tomas Hyka and Brandon Pirri are leading the Chicago Wolves in points per game as all three are averaging 0.93 per contest. Bennett is the true No. 1 with 53 points (12G, 41A) in 57 games while Pirri check in with 51 points (29G, 22A) in 55 contests and Hyka has 43 points (15G, 28A) in 46 games. The trio leads of the way for players that have appeared in at least 10 games this season. In his debut on Saturday, 19-year-old defenseman Nicolas Hague picked up an assist to begin his professional career with a point-per-game average.
- 5: On Saturday, center Wade Megan netted his league-leading fifth empty-net goal. This marks the second consecutive season in which a Chicago Wolves player has led the American Hockey League in empty-netters. In 2016-17, Kenny Agostino, the league’s leading scorer and MVP, also netted five empty-net markers to share the AHL crown with the Charlotte Checkers’ Lucas Wallmark. Last year, Megan led the league in overall goals (33) and also posted a league-best five unassisted tallies.
- 6: Just six points rest between the Chicago Wolves and their ninth division title. Since the franchise came to be in 1994, the Wolves have collected two division titles as members of the International Hockey League (1998, 1999) and six (2005, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2017) as members of the American Hockey League. However, if Chicago can secure another title by season’s end, it will mark just the second time in 24 years the franchise has captured back-to-back division championships.
- 30: Center Brandon Pirri is in the market for Goal No. 30 of the season. If the 26-yearold Toronto native can complete the feat, it will be the fourth season out of the last five that the Chicago Wolves boast a 30-goal scorer and he’ll be the 26th member of the Wolves’ 30-goal club. He will round out a recent string that began with then-rookie Ty Rattie (31) in 2013-14 and was kept alive by Shane Harper (32) in 2014-15 and now-teammate Wade Megan (33) in 2016-17. If Pirri can average a goal per game through the end of the season, he’ll continue the one-goal-better trend as well. The American Hockey League goal-scoring race is a tight one as the No. 1 and 7 positions are separated by three tallies. Right now, Pirri resides in the No. 7 spot — along with Springfield’s Anthony Greco — while Laval’s Chris Terry and Charlotte’s Valentin Zykov lead the league with 32 markers apiece.
- 58: With T.J. Tynan out of the lineup for four games, forward Teemu Pulkkinen stretched his point streak to seven games with a total of nine points (5G, 4A) and surpassed Tynan to lead the team with 58 points (24G, 34A) on the season. The 26-year-old ranks No. 13 on the American Hockey League scoring leaderboard. Two points behind with 56 (13G, 43A), Tynan resides tied for No. 15 in the AHL.
- 97: This season, the Chicago Wolves can cap out at 97 points. While the total would fall four points shy of last season’s Central Division championship team, it would still be the 14th time in 24 seasons the Wolves register a 90-point season.
- The Wolves defeated the Admirals to clinch the franchise’s 19th postseason berth in 24 years.
- Forwards Wade Megan, Brett Sterling and Scooter Vaughan as well as defensemen Jake Bischoff and Jason Garrison scored goals.
- Goaltender Oscar Dansk made 25 saves in the win.
- 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.
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April 7, 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|
|04/07/2018||Allstate Arena||W, 5-1|
|04/10/2018||UMW Panther Arena|