Saturday, April 14 | 7:00 p.m. | Allstate Arena | Facebook | CW50
On Friday, the Chicago Wolves hung on for a 6-4 win against the Rockford IceHogs. Between the Wolves’ victory and the Cleveland Monsters sticking it to the Manitoba Moose with a 3-1 win, Chicago earned its second division crown in as many seasons. The feat has only been accomplished one other time in franchise history when the Wolves clinched titles in the 1997-98 and 1998-99 seasons.
ANOTHER ONE (OR FIVE)
Also with Friday’s victory came the guarantee of a best-of-five Central Division Semifinals against the Rockford IceHogs in the opening round of the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs. The Chicago Wolves and Rockford last faced each other in the postseason 10 years ago. It was the IceHogs first season in the American Hockey League — 2007-08. The teams met in the Western Division Final when Chicago rallied from a 3-2 deficit to defeat Rockford and eventually win the franchise’s fourth championship in an 11-year stretch.
ONE MORE WIN
In a competition decided by head-to-head wins, the Chicago Wolves are in search of one more victory to make it six per team in the Illinois Lottery Cup season series against the Rockford IceHogs. Why would a tie be good enough? Because the Wolves own the first and second tiebreakers in the contest. For the first tiebreaker, four of the Wolves’ six losses have been in extra time to give Chicago four points in addition to their 12 win points. Secondly, the reigning Cup champion gets to reap the repeat and the Wolves were the 2016-17 Cup champs.
NOT MUCH ELSE ON THE LINE
The Wolves wrap up the 2017-18 regular season with home games Saturday and Sunday, but there’s not much left to be decided. Chicago (.628) owns the Central Division title, but Pacific Division champion Tucson (.657) has clinched home-ice advantage as far as it goes in the Western Conference while North Division champion Toronto (.730) owns home-ice advantage as far as it goes in the playoffs.
WORLD OF DIFFERENCE
In other news, with the National Hockey League regular season closed, Hockey Canada announced its initial 18 players for the 2018 Worlds roster, and the Chicago Wolves have three alumni set to represent Canada and help the country secure its third men’s senior-level gold medal in four years. Defensemen Vince Dunn (2016-17), Joel Edmundson (2013-16) and Colton Parayko (2014-15) are all slated to join Team Canada in Copenhagen and Herning, Denmark, for the 16-day tournament.
By the Numbers:
- 1: The Chicago Wolves reign supreme as the Central Division’s No. 1 team for the second time in as many seasons. It’s also the just the second time in which the Wolves have earned back-to-back division crowns. They first accomplished the feat as members of the International Hockey League during the 1997-98 and 1998-99 seasons. Overall, in the club’s 24-year history, Chicago owns nine division titles, including two in the IHL (1998, 99) and seven in the American Hockey League (2005, 08, 10, 12, 14, 17, 18).
- 3: Forward Beau Bennett registered two points for the second time in five games. The 26-year-old California native is enjoying his best professional campaign with 12 goals and 43 assist for 55 points — all three totals putting his previous career-highs to shame. This season, Bennett has been one of the Chicago Wolves’ best point producers as he owns 15 multi-point games. Seven of those have come in the last 16 games.
- 5: On Friday, center T.J. Tynan netted his fifth short-handed goal of the 2017-18 campaign. That total leads the Chicago Wolves and ranks him second in the league — one behind Springfield’s Anthony Greco. Additionally, his total is more than the league’s leading shortie scorer since the 2015-16 campaign when now-teammate Wade Megan led the American Hockey League with seven short-handed goals. Tynan’s total also shattered his career-best for shorthanded tallies in a season — previously the 26-year—old only owned two shorties and both came during the 2016-17 season.
- 9: Forward Teemu Pulkkinen stretched his point streak to nine games, a career-best for the 26-year-old Finn. Dating back to March 24, Pulkkinen has registered eight goals and five assists for 13 points over that span. His previous eight-game career-high streak — from Dec. 19, 2014 to Jan. 7, 2015 — included nine goals and four assists for 13 points. That run also featured an eight-game goal streak for Pulkkinen.
- 18: The Chicago Wolves closed their 2017-18 road schedule on Friday with the team’s 18th road win of the year. Through 38 games, the Wolves produced an 18-13-5-2 record to give them a .566 points percentage — this marks the 18th season in which Chicago has finished better than .500 on the road.
- 41: With a 4-3 shootout win against the Milwaukee Admirals at UWM Panther Arena on Tuesday, the Chicago Wolves registered the team’s 17th 40-win season in 24 years. Friday night marked the 13th time the Wolves have collected 41 or more victories in a season.
- 62: On Friday, Teemu Pulkkinen collected two goals and an assist for three points. Those points pushed him to a season total of 62 (27G, 35A), a new single-season careerhigh. His previous best points performance came during the 2014-15 campaign when he owned 61 and led the American Hockey League with 34 goals. This season, Pulkkinen is the Wolves’ leading point-getter and is second in goal-scoring with 27 tallies. The native of Finland is a pretty even-keel point collector: he owns 109 goals and 110 assists through 239 AHL games. Pulkkinen leads the Chicago Wolves in points and shares the No. 7 spot in the league.
Saturday, April 13 Chicago 6, (at) Rockford 4
- The Wolves secured back-to-back Central Division titles with a victory over the IceHogs.
- Forwards Teemu Pulkkinen and T.J. Tynan each netted two goals while Keegan Kolesar and Zac Leslie accounted for Chicago’s other two tallies.
- Goaltender Oscar Dansk earned an assist on the game-winning goal and made 32 saves.
Tuesday, April 10 Chicago 4, (at) Milwaukee 3 (SO)
- Chicago scored twice in a five-round shootout to finish the 12-game season series with Milwaukee on a winning note.
- Defenseman Jake Bischoff and forwards Teemu Pulkkinen and Paul Thompson accounted for the Wolves’ regulation goals.
- Birthday boy Brandon Pirri and defenseman Philip Holm scored in the shootout while Trevor Smith was the Admirals’ lone scorer.
- Goaltender Oscar Dansk made 24 saves through 65 minutes and stopped four of five shootout attempted in the victory.
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April 13, 2018
|11/19/2017||BMO Harris Bank Center||SOL, 3-4|
|11/25/2017||Allstate Arena||W, 4-3|
|12/01/2017||BMO Harris Bank Center||OTL, 3-4|
|12/12/2017||BMO Harris Bank Center||W, 2-1|
|12/22/2017||BMO Harris Bank Center||OTL, 2-3|
|12/30/2017||Allstate Arena||W, 6-2|
|02/03/2017||Allstate Arena||W, 7-4|
|03/11/2018||Allstate Arena||OTL, 1-2|
|03/17/2018||Allstate Arena||L, 2-3|
|03/24/2017||BMO Harris Bank Center||L, 3-5|
|04/13/2018||BMO Harris Bank Center||W, 6-4|