Sunday, April 15, 2018 | 4:00 p.m. | Allstate Arena | CW50 | Facebook
Sunday marks the Chicago Wolves’ 76th and final game of the 2017-18 campaign. Through the first 75 contests, Chicago’s 42-22-7-4 record has earned the Central Division title, ranked second in the Western Conference (behind Pacific Division champion Tucson) and earned the No. 6 spot in the 30-team American Hockey League. Chicago has produced 243 goals — sixth-most in the league — and only surrendered 205 tallies — 10th-fewest in the AHL. Though the Wolves spent most of the season of the league’s three least-penalized teams, the Wolves recently moved to the No. 5 position.
Special Teams Review
While the full season rankings cannot be determined until Sunday’s games conclude, the Chicago Wolves special teams have not been shabby through the first 75 games of the 2017-18 regular season. Entering Sunday’s contest, Chicago’s power play checks in at No. 11 in the league with a 18.5 percent success rate. The team also ranks fourth among all 30 American Hockey League teams with 61 power-play goals. The penalty kill clocks in at No. 12 (83.4 percent) in the AHL and has only allowed 48 goals, which ranks seventh among the 30 teams. Additionally, Chicago’s 10 short-handed goals — six of them courtesy of T.J. Tynan — rank seventh-best in the league. The Wolves have surrendered seven shorties, which ranks eighth.
After Sunday’s game ends, the Wolves and 15 other AHL teams turn their attention to the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs. As the Central Division champs, the Wolves own the No. 1 seed in the division and face No. 4 seed Rockford in the best-of-five Central Division Semifinals that begin at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 21, at Allstate Arena. In the division’s other first-round series, the second-seeded Grand Rapids Griffins and third-seeded Manitoba Moose launch their best-of-five the same night in Winnipeg. The North Division champion Toronto Marlies (.733) own the No. 1 overall seed while the Pacific Division champion Tucson Roadrunners (.662) have clinched home-ice advantage in the Western Conference as long as they remain in the Calder Cup hunt.
On Saturday, the Chicago Wolves added 22-year-old Dawson Cook to their roster. A Midwest native, Cook was born in Cadillac, Michigan, and spent two years with USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program then-based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Cook just finished his senior season at the University of Notre Dame. His four-year career with UND culminated with his second Frozen Four appearance. In his time at Notre Dame, Cook helped the Fighting Irish to two Frozen Fours, three NCAA Tournament bids as well as Big Ten regular-season and conference tournament titles.
By the Numbers:
- 3: Chicago Wolves won back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday to rally from a two-win deficit in the Illinois Lottery Cup series and claim the team’s third such title. Since the Wolves owned both series tiebreakers — head-to-head points and reigning champion — all they had to do was match the Rockford IceHogs’ six wins. In its seventh season, the inaugural Lottery Cup was claimed by the now-SPHL Peoria Rivermen in 2012. Rockford has three titles.
- 29: On Saturday, forward Teemu Pulkkinen collected his second two-goal effort in as many games. His pair of tallies brought his season total 29, so the 26-year-old Finn enters Sunday’s game in search of his 30th goal the season. He and center Brandon Pirri now share the team lead and seventh on the American Hockey League goal-scoring leaderboard. Saturday marked Pulkkinen’s sixth multi-goal performance of the year and the 20th of his career. Those 20 contests include two hat tricks — Jan. 29, 2015, versus the Iowa Wild and March 4, 2015, against the Oklahoma City Barons.
- 6: In true Chicago Wolves fashion, Saturday’s third-period rally was a one-goal win. This season, Chicago has appeared in 38 one-tally contests, which shares third place in the American Hockey League in that category. Only the Utica Comets (43) and the Texas Stars (42) rank ahead of Chicago while the Hartford Wolf Pack are tied.
- 62: As the dust settles on another season series between the Chicago Wolves and Rockford IceHogs, the teams are against deadlocked at 62 wins apiece in the all-time regular-season series. The Wolves and IceHogs began the season with 56 victories each and a dozen games later, they both boast 62 wins. The Wolves own the slightest advantage in the series based on points percentage as they have recorded a 62-48-7-7 record while the IceHogs have a 62-50-8-4 mark.
- 64: Teemu Pulkkinen comes into Sunday’s game as the Chicago Wolves’ leading scorer for the 2017-18 campaign with 29 goals and 35 assists for 64 points in 74 games. His 64 points rank sixth among all American Hockey League scorers. Additionally, Pulkkinen has set career-highs with 25 assists and 64 points. His best goal-scoring season came during the 2014-15 campaign when he led the league with 34 tallies. The 26-year-old owns five goals in the last three games and stretched his active scoring streak to 10 games with 15 points (10G, 5A). The streak is also a career-high for Pulkkinen.
- 51: Left wing Brett Sterling netted his 250th American Hockey League goal on Saturday night against the Rockford IceHogs. The tally came at 8:43 of the third period and stood as the game-winning goal. The 33-year-old Sterling has skated nine seasons the AHL and spent seven of them wearing a Chicago Wolves sweater. The goal moved into the No. 42 spot on the AHL’s all-time goal-scorers list. He and Peter White — who skated 13 years — share the rank. Of the AHL’s top 50 all-time scorers, Sterling is the only active player.
- Chicago rallied in the third period to claim its second consecutive Illinois Lottery Cup.
- Forward Teemu Pulkkinen led the offense with his second two-goal effort in as many games.
- Veteran Brett Sterling netted his 250th AHL goal, which leads all active scorers, and defenseman Philip Holm registered his first goal in a Wolves sweater.
- Captain Paul Thompson accounted for Chicago’s fifth goal and Max Lagace made 37 saves.
- 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.
|Sunday, April 15||vs. Manitoba||Allstate Arena||4 p.m||Tickets|
|Saturday, April 21||vs. Rockford||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.||Tickets|
|Sunday, April 22||at Rockford||BMO Harris Bank Center||4 p.m.||Watch|
|Thursday, April 26||vs. Rockford||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.||Tickets|
|Sunday, April 29||vs. Rockford||BMO Harris Bank Center||4 p.m.||Watch|
|Monday, April 30||vs. Rockford||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.||Tickets|
FOLLOW. LISTEN. WATCH.Watch on CW50 Listen on Facebook Watch on AHL LIVE
March 10, 2018
|10/25/2017||Allstate Arena||L, 1-3|
|11/15/2017||Bell MTS Place||L, 3-2|
|11/17/2017||Bell MTS Place||L, 4-6|
|01/05/2018||Allstate Arena||W (OT), 4-3|
|02/24/2018||Bell MTS Place||L, 4-0|
|02/25/2018||Bell MTS Place||W, 5-2|
|03/10/2018||Allstate Arena||L, 2-1|