ROCKFORD ICEHOGS (14-10-2-4) AT CHICAGO WOLVES (16-9-2-1)
hot for the holidays
Like holiday shoppers hungry for bargains, the Chicago Wolves have been hungry for victories. After garnering three wins at Allstate Arena in a four-day stretch, the Wolves are tied with the Iowa Wild for the Central Division’s best points percentage (.625) heading into tonight’s Illinois Lottery Cup clash.
Tuesday’s School-Day victory over Texas was the Wolves’ sixth straight win, the longest active streak in the AHL and Chicago’s longest stretch since winning six games from Feb. 25 to March 9 last season. A 12-game streak, set Feb. 25 to March 17, 2000, by the eventual International Hockey League Turner Cup champions remains the longest streak in Wolves history.
Since falling behind 3-0 to Iowa in the opening 27 minutes of their game on Dec. 5, Chicago has outscored its opponents 28-8. The Wolves have scored 111 goals this season, eight more than the next-highest scoring teams, and average a league-high 3.96 goals per game.
Forward Brandon Pirri leads the league with 41 points, tallying nine goals and 10 assists in the Wolves’ last nine games. However, the Wolves will be without his point production after he was recalled from loan by the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday. Pirri made his NHL season debut Thursday night against the New York Islanders and scored Vegas’ first goal to spark a rally for a 4-2 victory.
Not to worry, Wolves forward Daniel Carr owns the second-best mark in the league with 33 points, a 1.5 points-per-game average, and has tallied nine power-play goals this season to lead all AHL players. Carr, center Gage Quinney and rookie defensemen Nic Hague and Zach Whitecloud own four of the top five spots in AHL plus/minus rating, so it’s a safe bet they’ll be on the ice when Chicago scores. The Wolves have also seen an increase in production from the pair of blueliners; Hague went on a streak early in the month, scoring five goals in four games while Whitecloud has three goals and three assists in December.
dual threat in net
The Wolves have scored 22 more goals than their opponents this season – and the recent increase in this differential has a lot to do with the players sharing time between the pipes. Netminders Oscar Dansk and Max Lagace each have earned three wins for Chicago during the Wolves’ six-game win streak while combining for a 2.14 goals-against average. On the other end of the ice, Rockford is without top goaltender Collin Delia after he was recalled from loan by the Blackhawks on Monday. Delia leads league netminders with his .933 save percentage and has a 2.34 goal-against average this season.
BY THE NUMBERS
1: The Wolves rank No. 1 among the 31 AHL teams in both goals with 111 and goals per game with 3.96. After Tuesday’s win, the Wolves are tied with the Iowa Wild for the best points percentage (.625) in the Central Division. The Wolves also own the most regulation and overtime wins (16) in the Western Conference and boast the longest active winning streak in the AHL at six games.
7: The Wolves have scored at least four goals in seven consecutive games, which ranks as the franchise’s longest streak since Craig Berube’s 2016-17 squad accomplished the feat eight games in a row from Dec. 22 to Jan. 7. As you can imagine, the Wolves are nearly unbeatable when they score at least four goals. This year’s team owns a 15-2-0-1 record when scoring 4+ and last year’s team won its final 26 games when scoring four or more.
11: Since falling behind 3-0 to Iowa on Dec. 5, the Wolves have outscored opponents by a 20-goal margin, 28-8. Put in other terms: while all of Chicago’s opponents have scored a collective eight goals over the last 337 minutes and 21 seconds, forward Daniel Carr has had a hand in 11 goals (5G, 6A). Carr has scored three power-play goals over this span and leads the league with nine goals on the man-advantage.
20: The Wolves are outscoring opponents 44-24 in the first period this season, a 20-goal differential that is the largest among AHL teams in the opening frame. In fact, that more than doubles their closest pursuers as Bridgeport, Charlotte and San Jose are next in line with a +9 differential in the first period. The Wolves have collected a 13-4-2-0 record in the 18 games in which they have scored first and a 13-1-2-1 record when leading after the first period.
43.3: The Chicago power play has been rolling in December, converting at a 43.3 percent clip. The Wolves have scored 13 power play goals this month, capitalizing on at least one man-advantage in seven of their eight games. The Wolves have scored multiple power-play goals on seven occasions, pushing the Wolves power play up to a 23.1 percent conversion rate for the year. If this group of Wolves maintain this percentage, then they’ll crush the franchise record of 20.8 percent set by the 2008 Calder Cup champions.
354: 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 goaltender Eddie Pasquale won his NHL debut Dec. 4 for the Tampa Bay Lightning against the Detroit Red Wings, he became the 354th player (out of 615 Wolves all-time) who have competed for the Wolves and in the NHL. That 57.6 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 — 38 boast NHL experience (70.4 percent).