MANITOBA MOOSE (8-7-1-0) at CHICAGO WOLVES (8-5-1-1)
TIME to battle back
The Chicago Wolves and Manitoba Moose both must rally after enduring tough overtime losses on Saturday night. The Wolves faced a pair of third-period deficits and forced overtime on Brandon Pirri’s power-play goal with 3:32 left in regulation — only to fall when Iowa’s Gerry Fitzgerald scored 2:44 into extra time.
Manitoba cut things even closer at Grand Rapids. The Moose pulled their goalie late and Tye McGinn came up with the equalizer with 35 seconds left in regulation — only to fall when Grand Rapids’ Carter Camper scored 35 seconds into overtime.
The Wolves and Moose are separated by only 1 point in the Central Division standings, but their peripheral numbers differ significantly. While Chicago has outscored its opponents by 8 goals, Manitoba has been outscored by 14 goals — tied for the worst differential in the Central Division.
no lag time for lagace
Prior to Saturday night’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Iowa Wild, Chicago Wolves goaltender Max Lagace had been out since Oct. 28 due to injury. Head coach Rocky Thompson expected Lagace to require some time to knock off the rust, but that was not the case. Lagace delivered multiple highlight-reel saves and kept the Wolves in the game when Iowa had five power-play opportunities in the second period. Put another way, Lagace’s official stats (23 saves on 27 shots) belied his impact.
“If not for Max Lagace playing so well, it could have been out of reach after two,” Thompson said. ”He was outstanding. He wasn’t rusty at all. He played really well. I was really happy with how he played.”
CARR BEEPS PAST MACEK
Left wing Daniel Carr earned assists on both of Brandon Pirri’s power-play goals Saturday night, which enabled Carr to leapfrog linemate Brooks Macek for the AHL’s scoring lead. Carr owns 22 points (9G, 13A) in 15 games while Macek stands second with 21 points.
Carr and Macek also rank 1-2 in plus/minus rating (+18 for Carr and +16 for Macek) while Carr shares the AHL lead for power-play goals (6) with Rochester’s Zach Redmond. Macek must console himself with the AHL’s goal-scoring lead — his 14 rank two ahead of Cleveland’s Zac Dalpe — and his overwhelming lead in shooting percentage. He’s at 51.9 percent and Syracuse’s Taylor Raddysh sits at 33.3 percent.
BY THE NUMBERS
1: The Chicago Wolves are a fast-starting team. How fast? Through 15 games, the Wolves have taken a deficit into the first intermission just once this season — Oct. 20 at Grand Rapids when a 2-0 deficit after 20 minutes turned into a 5-3 loss. The Wolves are outscoring opponents 22-11 in the first period, which is the best margin in the AHL. Charlotte ranks second at +8.
7: On the other hand, the Wolves have been outscored by 7 goals (24-17) during the middle stanza. That ranks as the third-worst differential in the Western Conference as only Stockton (-18) and Texas (-9) have fared worse.
9: With eight healthy defensemen on the roster now that rookie Dylan Coghlan has returned to action after a three-week recovery period, head coach Rocky Thompson must make tough lineup choices every night and find a way to juggle playing time. On Saturday night against Iowa, that meant Jimmy Oligny and Zac Leslie sat out for the first time this season. That leaves the Wolves with nine players who have seen action in all 15 games: Forwards Daniel Carr, Reid Duke, Keegan Kolesar, Brooks Macek, Curtis McKenzie, Brandon Pirri, Gage Quinney and T.J. Tynan and defenseman Nic Hague.
14: Brooks Macek continues to lead the AHL with 14 goals as the 26-year-old from Winnipeg has maintained nearly a goal-per-game pace over the season’s first six weeks. As word has gotten out about Macek, teams are making it tougher on him to find room to deliver. Not only has Macek gone without a goal in the last two games (the first time that has happened since the first two games of the year on Oct. 5-6 in Colorado), he hasn’t taken a shot on goal in either game. His 14 goals are not a franchise record for most goals after 15 games: Steve Maltais produced 22 goals in the Wolves’ first 15 games of 1995-96.
18: The Wolves boast the AHL’s top three performers in plus/minus rating — starting with left wing Daniel Carr at +18. Right wing Brooks Macek is next at +16 while center Gage Quinney checks in at No. 3 with a +14 (tied with Rochester defenseman Lawrence Pilut). To get a sense of how impressive it is for a trio of forwards to be leading the league in this category, a defenseman has won the AHL’s plus/minus crown each of the last six seasons.
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 Nov. 7 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.