Welcome to Wolves Insider: the weekly report that gives you the scoop on all Chicago Wolves developments throughout the team’s 25th anniversary season.
GET READY FOR SATURDAY NIGHT’S HOME OPENER
The Chicago Wolves wasted no time finding their stride in the franchise’s 25th anniversary season. Head coach Rocky Thompson and his squad visited the Rocky Mountain State last weekend and earned 3-2 and 5-1 wins over the Colorado Eagles to get a jump start on a third consecutive Central Division crown. This marks the first time since 2012 — and sixth time in team history — the Wolves own a 2-0 start.
Six of the AHL’s 31 teams powered through the opening weekend with two victories, but only the Wolves and the Charlotte Checkers procured their wins on the road. Now the Wolves get to enjoy the comforts of Allstate Arena with Saturday night’s home opener against the Grand Rapids Griffins and Sunday’s matinee with the Milwaukee Admirals. The Wolves boast a 15-6-2-1 record (.688) in home openers.
As part of the 25th anniversary celebration, every fan receives free parking for every game — courtesy of your Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana Kia dealers. The first 2,500 fans to enter the arena Saturday receive a Static Cling schedule, presented by Lyft, while everybody in the house gets to be the first to see the new pregame show. Wolves legend Steve Maltais, the franchise’s all-time leading scorer (454 goals, 497 assists in 11 seasons) and three-time league champion, will handle the ceremonial puck drop
HEROES OLD AND NEW IN COLORADO
More than half of this year’s Wolves roster returns from last season’s division champs, but six of the Wolves’ eight goals over the weekend came from players who never had scored a goal for the franchise. Rookie defenseman Erik Brännström, a 2017 first-round draft pick by the Vegas Golden Knights, scored his first two professional goals in North America to trigger Friday’s overtime win. Rookie center Reid Duke and new center Gage Quinney stepped up for two goals apiece in Saturday’s convincing win.
Don’t worry: several of the team’s 14 returning players made their presence felt as well. Veteran forward Brandon Pirri handed out three assists in the first two games, including the setup on Brännström’s overtime game-winner on Friday. Second-year forward Tomas Hyka produced three assists as well, while veteran center T.J. Tynan (the team’s top returning scorer) posted one goal and one assist.
Veteran forward Stefan Matteau, who scored 15 goals for the Wolves last year, notched a goal Saturday night while 2018 AHL All-Star Curtis McKenzie handed two assists during his first week with the team.
Family Sundays are back and better than ever! Each of the Wolves’ 13 Sunday afternoon home games features free face-painting, sign-making, caricature-drawing and postgame autographs. The first 1,000 kids at each game receive a free admission ticket to a prominent local attraction. This Sunday’s giveaway is for Brookfield Zoo.
In his first professional game on North American soil, the 19-year-old defenseman from Eksjo, Sweden, scored the Wolves’ first goal of the season and added the game-winning goal 48 seconds into overtime to give the Wolves a 3-2 win Friday night at Colorado. Brännström became the 49th NHL first-round pick to play for the Wolves since the team’s inception in 1994.
The first player to join the Vegas Golden Knights organization (he signed in March 2017), Duke missed almost all of last season due to an injured shoulder. The 22-year-old center from Calgary is making up for lost time this year as he scored two goals in Saturday’s 5-1 win at Colorado — the first goals of his professional career.
This Las Vegas native, a third-year professional, signed a contract with his hometown team in the offseason. The 23-year-old center has proved himself early as he posted a pair of goals in Saturday’s 5-1 win at Colorado. Quinney’s father, Ken, played against the Wolves in the early IHL years as a high-scoring forward for the Las Vegas Thunder.
Rookie center Reid Duke scored his first two goals as a professional and Gage Quinney also scored his first two goals with the Wolves to spark the weekend sweep
Veteran forward Stefan Matteau also scored and rookie defenseman Nic Hague notched a +5 plus/minus rating
Goaltender Max Lagace picked up the win with 25 saves
Rookie defenseman Erik Brännström scored 48 seconds into overtime to give the Wolves the victory in their 25th anniversary season opener.
Brännström scored twice in his professional debut on North American soil. Center T.J. Tynan scored the Wolves’ other goal on the power play while Tomas Hyka posted two assists.
Goaltender Oscar Dansk earned the win with 27 saves during regulation.
|Saturday, Oct. 13||vs. Grand Rapids (CW50)||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.||Tickets|
|Sunday, Oct. 14||vs. Milwaukee (The U Too)||Allstate Arena||3 p.m.||Tickets|
|Saturday, Oct. 20||at Grand Rapids||Van Andel Arena||6 p.m.||Watch|
|Sunday, Oct. 21||vs. Milwaukee (The U Too)||Allstate Arena||3 p.m.||Tickets|
|Wednesday, Oct. 24||vs. Cleveland||Allstate Arena||11 a.m.||Tickets|