ROCKFORD ICEHOGS (7-4-1-2) at CHICAGO WOLVES (8-3-0-1)
THE GREATEST RIVALRY IN SPORTS
Go ahead. Think of the most-ballyhooed rivalries in sports. Bears vs. Packers. Red Sox vs. Yankees. Cubs vs. Cardinals. Ohio State vs. Michigan. All of them pale in comparison to the Chicago Wolves vs. the Rockford IceHogs. Since the day this rivalry began on Oct. 19, 2007 — when the Wolves defeated the IceHogs and goaltender Corey Crawford 5-4 in overtime at Allstate Arena — these franchises have been dead-even.
Today marks the 125th regular-season meeting between these teams. The Wolves have won 62 times and the IceHogs have won 62 times, though it’s not quite that close in goals (the Wolves have outscored the IceHogs 387-352). But this rivalry is more than just evenly matched. Because these teams are located just 70 miles apart and they play 12 times per year., there are plenty of opportunities to build up a healthy amount of disdain for the other side.
FOUR ON THE FLOOR FOR CARR
Wolves left wing Daniel Carr became the first AHL player in nearly nine months to score four goals in a game when he stacked up four on Wednesday at Milwaukee. He scored two in the first period, one in the second, one in the third and nearly produced an empty-net goal in the waning moments that would have set the franchise single-game record.
Instead, Carr settled for joining Dan Currie (Dec. 29, 1995; March 24, 1996), Steve Larouche (April 27, 2001), Nigel Dawes (Jan. 5, 2011) and Kenny Agostino (Dec. 31, 2016) in the pantheon of Wolves’ four-goal scorers. The 27-year-old Carr hadn’t notched a hat trick since Oct. 13, 2017, when he stacked up three for the Laval Rocket against Binghamton. Carr’s big day pushed him to a share of fifth place among AHL goal-scorers (8), fourth place in points (18) and a tie for first place with teammate Brooks Macek in plus-minus rating (+18).
MACEK’S RIDICULOUS START
Right wing Brooks Macek didn’t score any goals in Wednesday’s 5-3 win at Milwaukee, but he assisted on all five goals to become the first Wolves player since Rob Brown on Dec. 19, 2000, to rack up five helpers in one game. Brown also owns the franchise record as he piled up six assists on March 24, 1996, in a 10-3 victory over the Kansas City Blades.
Macek must console himself with the fact he shares the AHL lead in goals (12), points (19) and plus-minus rating (+18) and ranks first in shooting percentage (57.1).
By The Numbers
4: The Chicago Wolves and the Charlotte Checkers have played the fewest home games in the AHL with four apiece. The Wolves haven’t been home since Oct. 24, which represents a season-long 17 days away from Allstate Arena. Considering the AHL’s collective home record is 103-69-12-8 — a .589 points percentage — it’s probably a good thing to have extra home games to look forward to. The Wolves (3-0-0-1) and the Springfield Thunderbirds (4-0-0-1) are the only AHL teams that have yet to lose at home in regulation.
6: Center Gage Quinney carries a six-game point streak into tonight’s game. The man who plays with Daniel Carr and Brooks Macek on his flanks kicked off his streak with a hat trick against Cleveland in the Wolves’ last home game on Oct. 24. Since that time, Quinney has tacked on two goals and three assists to move his season totals to seven goals and five assists. The Las Vegas native also ranks third in the league in plus/minus rating at +16.
12: Right wing Brooks Macek and Cleveland Monsters center Zac Dalpe share the AHL lead in goals with 12. Macek is averaging one goal per game, which is a remarkable pace but does not hold the franchise record at this juncture of the schedule. The legendary Steve Maltais produced an astounding 19 goals in the Wolves’ first 12 games of the 1995-96 season on his way to 56 for the year. Rob Brown produced 12 goals in the first 12 games of the 1996-97 season en route to 37 goals.
15: The Wolves have outscored their opponents 50-35 this season — and their +15 differential ranks fourth in the AHL. Only San Jose (+17), Iowa (+16) and Charlotte (+16) are ahead. The Wolves are on pace for a +95 goal differential, which would have ranked first in the AHL last season — just ahead of the eventual Calder Cup champion Toronto Marlies (+84).
18: Daniel Carr and Brooks Macek share the league lead in plus/minus rating at +18, which is an absurd number just 12 games into the season. If they maintain this rate the rest of the way, then they’ll finish at +114 for the year. To put that number into perspective, the incomparable Bobby Orr posted a +124 plus/minus rating in 78 games during the NHL’s 1970-71 regular season.
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).
6,532: This is the number of days between Brooks Macek’s five-assist effort on Wednesday at Milwaukee and the previous five-assist game by a Wolves player. Rob Brown, who holds the team’s single-game (6) and single-season (91) assist records, handed out five assists on Dec. 19, 2000, in a 7-5 victory at Kansas City.