CHICAGO WOLVES (6-2-0-1) at MANITOBA MOOSE (5-4-0-0)
WHAT’S NEW, MOOSE?
The last time the Chicago Wolves and the Manitoba Moose met, it was the final day of the 2017-18 regular season. The 3-1 Moose win at Allstate Arena meant nothing to either side because the Wolves already had clinched the Central Division title and the Moose were locked in as the division’s No. 3 seed.
However, both teams carried big expectations into the playoffs because Manitoba had dominated the division much of the year and the Wolves were the hottest team in the Western Conference going into the postseason. Alas, both the Wolves and the Moose fell victim to the Hawks-fortified Rockford IceHogs in the Calder Cup Playoffs.
What are the teams’ prospects this year? The Wolves have jumped out to a fast start and boast a +11 goal differential. The Moose started poorly, but they’ve won four of their last five games. Manitoba’s roster features two players voted to the 2017-18 AHL First All-Star Team in right wing Mason Appleton and defenseman Sami Niku. Appleton also earned the league’s Dudley (Red) Garrett Memorial Award as the rookie of the year while Niku took home the Eddie Shore Award as the AHL’s top defenseman.
THE MOST EFFICIENT LINE IN THE AHL
On head coach Rocky Thompson’s lineup sheet, the Daniel Carr–Gage Quinney–Brooks Macek trio is listed as the Wolves’ third line. But judging by the numbers, it’s hard to find a better line anywhere in the AHL.
Carr leads the AHL in plus-minus rating at +13, Quinney ranks second at +12 while Macek shares third place with Rochester defenseman Lawrence Pilut at +11. Macek’s 9 goals share the league lead with Utica’s Reid Boucher while Quinney’s 6 goals share fifth place. Carr, meanwhile, leads the Wolves and shares fifth place in the league with 12 points.
FUCALE JOINS OUR GOALIES
On Tuesday, the Vegas Golden Knights reassigned 23-year-old goaltender Zach Fucale from the ECHL’s Fort Wayne Komets to the Wolves. The Laval, Quebec, native is particularly well-known to Canadian hockey fans who remember his exploits as a junior.
In 2013, Fucale backstopped the Halifax Mooseheads to their first Memorial Cup championship. He also was the top goaltender selected in that year’s NHL Draft. In 2015, he served as the primary goaltender for the Quebec Ramparts squad that competed for the Memorial Cup.
by the numbers
3: The Chicago Wolves’ penalty-kill units have surrendered three power-play goals three times in the first nine games this season — the same number of times last year’s team allowed three power-play goals all of last season. Coincidentally, all three of this year’s occurrences have been during the team’s three Sunday games: Oct. 14 vs. Milwaukee, Oct. 21 vs. Milwaukee and Oct. 28 at San Antonio. In the team’s other six games on the other days of the week, the PK unit has handled 27 of 29 opportunities (93.1 percent).
6: Six skaters on the Wolves roster are still searching for their first point of the season: Forwards Alex Gallant, Ryan Wagner, Matthew Weis and Tyler Wong and defensemen Jake Bischoff and Jimmy Oligny. Weis, in fact, is shooting for his first point as a professional as the Ohio State graduate stands five games into his pro career.
7: Forward Daniel Carr saw his seven-game point streak come to a close last Sunday when he couldn’t dent the scoresheet during the Wolves’ 3-2 loss at San Antonio. Only two AHL players have managed longer streaks this season: Rochester’s Zach Redmond (9 games) and Utica’s Reid Boucher (8 games). Carr earned at least one assist in each game of his streak, which ranks second to Ontario’s Matt Moulson (8 games).
9: Wolves right wing Brooks Macek’s four-game goal-scoring streak ended on Sunday at San Antonio. He delivered six goals during that stretch, including three in the first period. Macek continues to hold a share of the AHL’s goals lead with Utica’s Reid Boucher. They each own nine.
64: Though Brooks Macek shares the league lead in goals, he doesn’t rank among the AHL’s top 100 in shots. In fact, the 26-year-old from Winnipeg has taken just 14 shots this season. That means he owns an absurd 64.3 shooting percentage this year, which leads the AHL. Of the 11 AHL players who’ve amassed at least six goals, linemate Gage Quinney and Milwaukee defenseman Matt Donovan are the closest to Macek in shooting percentage (6 of 17; 35.3 percent).
200: Forward Curtis McKenzie scored a power-play goal on Oct. 28 at San Antonio to push his career AHL point total to 198. The 27-year-old British Columbia native has racked up eight points in nine games with the Wolves and 84 goals with 114 assists in 232 AHL regular-season games overall.
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).