MILWAUKEE ADMIRALS (4-1-1-0) at CHICAGO WOLVES (4-1-0-0)
gonna be one of those years
It’s only the third weekend of the American Hockey League regular season, but it’s becoming clear it will be a heck of a race for the four Calder Cup playoff spots in the eight-team Central Division — and it’s not going to be easy to pick up points on the road.
The Chicago Wolves became the final AHL team to suffer a loss when the Grand Rapids Griffins defended their home ice for a 5-3 victory on Saturday night at Van Andel Arena. That pushed the Central Division teams’ collective home record to 16-5-1-0 (.750). If we remove the last-place San Antonio Rampage from this equation, then the other seven Central Division squads have posted a 15-2-1-0 mark (.861) at home.
The Wolves took advantage of Allstate Arena home ice when they rallied to defeat the Milwaukee Admirals last Sunday. Forwards Daniel Carr and Curtis McKenzie scored in the final seven minutes of regulation to rally the hosts, then rookie defenseman Dylan Coghlan came through with the game-winner in overtime. Since that game, the Admirals have taken a trip to the West Coast to split a pair of games while the Wolves’ lone game came Saturday night at Grand Rapids.
BREAST CANCER AWARENESS DAY
The Chicago Wolves are raising money (and awareness) for A Silver Lining Foundation and Chicago Wolves again this year. In addition to today’s game — which features each Wolves player using a stick that has a breast cancer survivor’s name written on it — the Wolves are hosting the Stick It To Breast Cancer fundraiser on Tuesday, Oct. 30, at Peggy Kinnane’s in Arlington Heights.
The Wolves have a history of playing well on Breast Cancer Awareness Day. The team has won each of the last three years by a combined score of 12-4, which includes a 2-1 victory over the Milwaukee Admirals on Oct. 28, 2017. Defenseman Shea Theodore delivered the game-winning goal with 6:17 to play in his last game with the Wolves before moving to the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights.
Overall, the current Wolves roster features 13 players who suited up for Chicago last year — but you couldn’t have guessed that from the roster that played in last year’s Breast Cancer Awareness game. Forwards T.J. Tynan, Tyler Wong, Keegan Kolesar and Stefan Matteau and defensemen Griffin Reinhart are the only five players on this year’s roster who played Oct. 28, 2017. Goaltender Oscar Dansk had a good excuse for not being on the ice that day — he played the night before for the Vegas Golden Knights and earned the first shutout in franchise history (a 32-save effort against Colorado).
by the numbers
1: Rookie defenseman Zach Whitecloud earned the first point of his professional career on Saturday night at Grand Rapids when he set up the game-tying goal. With the Wolves trailing 3-2 at 7:40 of the second period, Whitecloud collected the puck along the half-boards and fired it toward the crease. That’s where Brooks Macek was battling with a defender and he turned his skate perfectly to deflect the puck into the net. The 21-year-old Whitecloud picked up his first point in his fourth game as a pro — three games this season for the Wolves and one game last season for the Vegas Golden Knights. He became the fifth Wolves player this season to register his first pro point on North American soil — joining Macek, Erik Brännström, Reid Duke and Dylan Coghlan.
5.6: The Wolves are averaging 5.6 power-play opportunities per game, which shares second place in the AHL. The Tucson Roadrunners lead the way with 36 chances in six games (6.0) while the Wolves and the Syracuse Crunch each have earned 28 chances in five games. That’s the good news. On the flip side, the Wolves have converted just three of their power plays to date — and that shares 27th place wih the Laval Rocket with a 10.7 percent efficiency rate.
200: Wolves center T.J. Tynan produced his 199th and 200th AHL points on Saturday night — and they occurred just 65 seconds apart. Tynan rushed down the right wing, went below the goal line and banked the puck off the back of Grand Rapids goaltender Harri Sateri at 4:39 of the second period. Then he set up Erik Brännström’s one-timer that Brandon Pirri deflected home at 5:44 of the second. Tynan owns 49 goals and 151 assists in 301 career AHL tilts.
300: Veteran forward Brandon Pirri played in his 300th AHL game Saturday night and he made the most of it. Not only did he earn an assist on the Wolves’ first goal of the night — T.J. Tynan’s second-period sortie — he fought off a Griffins defenseman to tip Erik Brännström’s shot and pick up his second goal of the year. Pirri has picked up at least one point in every game this season — the only Wolves player to do so — and has 99 goals and 160 assists to show for his 300 AHL games.
353: If you’ve suited up for the Wolves, chances are better than 50/50 that you’ve also played in the National Hockey League. When Daniel Carr, Curtis McKenzie and Zach Whitecloud made their Wolves debuts on Oct. 5, they became the 351st, 352nd and 353rd players (out of 615 Wolves all-time) who have competed for the Wolves and in the NHL. That 57.4 percent overall success rate is even higher among goaltenders. Of the 54 players who’ve tended the net for the Wolves over the years — starting with original goaltenders Ray LeBlanc and Wendell Young and continuing through current Wolves Max Lagace and Oscar Dansk — 37 boast NHL experience (68.5 percent).
365: One year ago today, goaltender Oscar Dansk made his NHL debut and it followed a script no one could have imagined. While serving as Malcolm Subban’s backup, Dansk entered the game with 9:10 to play after Subban suffered an injury. The Stockholm, Sweden, native gave up the game-tying goal on the first shot he faced (by St. Louis’ Alex Pietrangelo), but he stopped the last 10 and earned the victory in overtime when William Karlsson scored his first of many goals for Vegas last season.