Welcome to Wolves Insider: the weekly report that gives you the scoop on all Chicago Wolves developments throughout the team’s 25th anniversary season.
MACEK THE MAGNIFICENT
With a startling blend of consistency and efficiency, Chicago Wolves forward Brooks Macek has vaulted to the top of the American Hockey League’s goal-scoring chart during his first professional season in North America.
Macek scored three goals in two games last weekend against the Manitoba Moose — playing in front of family and friends in his hometown of Winnipeg — to push his season total to 12 goals in just 11 games. He shares the lead with Cleveland’s Zac Dalpe as the AHL moves into its second full month of action.
It’s not just Macek’s production that’s the story, it’s the way he has scored. Over the last four weeks, Macek has scored exactly three goals each week. And he’s not one of those scorers who fired the puck toward the net every time it’s on his stick. Macek has attempted just 21 shots this season, which gives him an absurd 57.1 shooting percentage. That’s far and away the league leader as Springfield forward Blaine Byron ranks second at 42.9 percentage, but he has tried just seven shots.
Macek also owns the AHL lead in plus/minus rating at +15 — sharing the lead with linemate Daniel Carr. The third member of their line — center Gage Quinney — ranks third with a +14 plus/minus rating. No other AHL forward has a plus/minus higher than +8.
WELCOME TO RIVALRY WEEK
There’s nothing better than playing against your closest neighbors — especially when the division lead is at stake. The Wolves meet the Central Division-leading Milwaukee Admirals twice this week — Wednesday morning in Wisconsin and Sunday afternoon at Allstate Arena. The Wolves and Admirals already have split a pair of entertaining 5-4 games that couldn’t be decided in just 60 minutes.
On Saturday night, the Illinois Lottery Cup rivalry resumes. It’s only the tightest rivalry in the history of professional sports. The Wolves and the Rockford IceHogs have met 124 times since the IceHogs joined the AHL in 2007. Of those 124 games, the Wolves have won 62 times and the IceHogs have won 62 times. Of course, the Wolves own a dominant margin in goals during those games: 387-352.
The Wolves also have captured the Illinois Lottery Cup each of the last two years. Chicago and Rockford meet 12 times each season — and the Cup goes to the team that earns more wins.
The Chicago Wolves, Feed-6 Outreach and Northern Illinois Food Bank are teaming up for a food-packing event on Saturday, Nov. 10, at the Allstate Arena’s Skyline Room. The second annual HungerHeroes event will create 100,000 meals for food-insecure veterans and their neighbors. To help out or donate, call 1-800-THE-WOLVES.
For the FOURTH week in a row, Macek scored three goals. That enabled him to maintain a share of the AHL’s goal-scoring lead with 12. The 26-year-old tends to score in bunches as he already owns one hat trick (Oct. 13 vs. Grand Rapids) and three two-goal games (Oct. 21 vs. Milwaukee, Oct. 24 vs. Cleveland and Nov. 3 at Manitoba).
The Wolves center takes a five-game point streak into this week’s action as he has rolled up five goals and two assists since Oct. 24. Quinney ranks second on the team and shares sixth in the league with seven goals. The Las Vegas native owns the team’s lone short-handed goal and stands third in the AHL with a +14 plus/minus rating.
Carr, Quinney and Macek play together on the same line and each continues to lift the others to greater heights. Though Carr did not score in the Wolves’ win Saturday night — just the third time he didn’t dent the scoresheet — he shares third in the league in assists (10), shares sixth in points (14) and shares first with Macek in plus-minus rating (+15).
SATURDAY, NOV. 3: CHICAGO 4, (at) MANITOBA 1
- Forward Brooks Macek seized the AHL lead in goals with his 11th and 12th of the year to clinch the victory at Bell MTS Place
- Veterans Brandon Pirri and Stefan Matteau scored in the first period to set the tone while center T.J. Tynan assisted on both tallies
- Goaltender Oscar Dansk stopped 29 of 30 shots to earn the win
FRIDAY, NOV. 2: (at) MANITOBA 5, CHICAGO 4
- Forward Brooks Macek and defenseman Nic Hague scored in the final six minutes to pull the Wolves within one, but Manitoba held on for the narrow win at Bell MTS Place Center
- Gage Quinney and left wing Daniel Carr scored power-play goals in the opening 30 minutes to keep the Wolves even early while forward Brandon Pirri notched two assists
- Goaltender Oscar Dansk posted 15 saves in the loss