Welcome to Wolves Insider: the weekly report that gives you the scoop on all Chicago Wolves developments throughout the team’s 25th anniversary season.
TWO THRILLING WINS TO OPEN THE HOME SCHEDULE
For the third time in the organization’s 25-year history, the Chicago Wolves are off to a 4-0 start as head coach Rocky Thompson’s team pulled off a pair of home wins over the weekend that played out in entirely different ways.
In Saturday’s 25th anniversary season home opener against the Grand Rapids Griffins, the Wolves scored three goals in a 3-minute, 11-second stretch of the first period to seize control of the game. Right wing Brooks Macek added the final two goals of his hat trick during the second period to push the margin to 5-1 and the Wolves put it on cruise control from there.
On Sunday afternoon against the Milwaukee Admirals, however, the Wolves trailed by two goals after two periods and faced that same deficit with less than eight minutes to play. Instead of allowing the Admirals to walk away with the win in this battle of unbeatens, veteran forwards Daniel Carr and Curtis McKenzie fed each other for goals in the final 6:03 to force overtime. Once in the extra session, Reid Duke teed up rookie defenseman Dylan Coghlan for a slap shot from the high slot that capped the feverish rally and brought the entire team on the Allstate Arena ice to celebrate the win.
WHAT THE WOLVES’ GREAt BEGINNING MEANS
Winning the first handful of games in October typically leads to a magical June for the Wolves. In 1997-98, head coach John Anderson’s first team started 3-0 and went on to capture the 1998 Turner Cup. In 2001-02, the Wolves won their first three games and finished the year holding the Calder Cup aloft. In 2007-08, the Wolves raced out to a 6-0 start and didn’t stop until they owned the 2008 Calder Cup. (Then there’s the 2012-13 crew that opened 4-0, but early and frequent injuries left the squad just shy of the playoffs.)
This year’s group appears to have a mixture of all the right ingredients. There are 10 players with NHL experience, including top-liners Curtis McKenzie (G, 6A), Brandon Pirri (G, 4A) and T.J. Tynan (2G, A). There are several highly touted prospects, including players selected early in the NHL Entry Draft by the Vegas Golden Knights. Goaltenders Max Lagace and Oscar Dansk each own two wins as they’re allowing just two goals per game.
The Wolves are one of five unbeaten teams in the AHL and their +10 goal differential ranks second in the league. McKenzie shares fifth place among all scorers with 7 points while Carr is next with 6 points (G, 5A).
BREAST CANCER AWARENESS DAY TO HELP ASLF
The Wolves host Breast Cancer Awareness Day on Sunday, Oct. 21, and raising money to help A Silver Lining Foundation. Fans are encouraged to celebrate their Breast Cancer survivor by purchasing a Survivor Stick. Their favorite Wolves player will write the survivor’s name on the stick he’ll use during Sunday’s game against Milwaukee.
The Wolves also are hosting the Stick It to Breast Cancer fundraiser on Tuesday, Oct. 30, at Peggy Kinnane’s in Arlington Heights. Meet and mingle with your favorite Wolves in a comfortable atmosphere!
Proceeds from both events go to buy mammograms for those who cannot afford one.
After spending the first five years of his pro career in Germany (which included earning a silver medal in the 2018 Olympics), Brooks Macek returned to North America and he became the first player to deliver a hat trick in the American Hockey League this season with his three-goal performance in Saturday night’s 5-1 win over the Grand Rapids Grifins.
This 20-year-old rookie defenseman will never forget his first goal as a pro. Coghlan buried a slap shot at 2:56 of overtime Sunday to give the Wolves a 5-4 win over Milwaukee in a first-place showdown. Coghlan also earned primary assists on the Wolves’ first two goals of the night, including a perfect setup of T.J. Tynan to start the third-period rally.
After captaining the Texas Stars to the 2018 Calder Cup Finals and leading all players with 11 postseason goals, McKenzie switched organizations and has been a difference-maker since Day 1 with the Wolves. McKenzie has produced points in each game and shares fifth place in AHL scoring with seven points (1 goal and 6 assists) through four games.
HOME-OPENING Weekend Rewind
Rookie defenseman Dylan Coghlan scored his first professional goal 2:56 into overtime to cap a furious rally and wrap up the win in a battle of unbeatens
Forwards T.J. Tynan, Daniel Carr and Curtis McKenzie scored in the third period as the Wolves rallied from a two-goal deficit while Coghlan and McKenzie added two assists apiece
Goaltender Oscar Dansk picked up the win with 23 saves
Right wing Brooks Macek recorded his first professional hat trick on North American soil to lead the Wolves to victory in the team’s 25th anniversary season home opener
Linemate Daniel Carr assisted on all three of Macek’s scores while center Gage Quinney helped on two. Defenseman Zac Leslie and forward Brandon Pirri produced the other goals.
Goaltender Max Lagace earned the win with 32 saves
|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|
|Friday, Oct. 26||at Texas||H-E-B Center||7 p.m.||Watch|
|Sunday, Oct. 28||at San Antonio||AT&T Center||11 a.m.||Watch|
All times Central. All games stream on AHLTV.