ROCKFORD ICEHOGS (15-12-2-4) AT CHICAGO WOLVES (19-9-3-1)
Will this one go to 11?
The Chicago Wolves extended the American Hockey League’s longest current point streak to 10 games with a 4-2 victory Friday night at Rockford. Considering the IceHogs and Wolves meet for another Illinois Lottery Cup clash tonight at Allstate Arena, that would seem to provide some nice momentum for Rocky Thompson’s crew on Super Hero Night in the bid to push the point streak to 11.
But here’s the catch: In each of the first six games between these teams this season, the visitors have come away the winner. Rockford has won its three by one goal each time while the Wolves have won by 5, 4 and 2 goals, but margin of victory doesn’t matter when it’s the Illinois Lottery Cup.
The Wolves are in the early stages of a grueling stretch that features seven games in 11 days, but the team has found a way to bring its “A” game every time for the last four weeks. After suffering a 7-4 home loss to the Texas Stars on Dec. 2, Chicago stood 8 points out of first place in the Central Division. But here are the Central Division standings since the calendar flipped to Dec. 3:
TEAM RECORD PTS PCT
- Chicago 9-0-1-0 19 .950
- Texas 6-1-2-0 14 .778
- Rockford 5-3-1-0 11 .579
- Grand Rapids 4-4-3-0 11 .500
- San Antonio 5-3-0-0 10 .625
- Iowa 3-4-1-1 8 .444
- Milwaukee 2-4-2-1 7 .389
- Manitoba 1-5-1-0 3 .214
ALL EXPENSES-PAID TRIP TO SPRINGY?
The 2019 AHL All-Star Classic takes place Jan. 27-28 in Springfield, Massachusetts, and the popular four-division, 3-on-3 round-robin format still in effect. Each division needs a head coach — and the honor goes to the coach with the best points percentage in each division at the end of play Dec. 31.
If the Wolves (42 points in 32 games) win tonight, then the Iowa Wild (39 points in 31 games) must win tonight and in regulation against the Wolves on Monday to deny Rocky Thompson the honor.
Dansk GIVING IT 60 minutes
In his first 12 starts this year, Oscar Dansk played exactly 60 minutes just one time as either he was pulled for an extra attacker late in games or pulled when the Wolves drew a delayed penalty. But during his current six-game winning streak that began with a 32-save shutout on Dec. 8 at Rockford, Dansk has played exactly 60 minutes in all six games. He owns a 1.17 goals-against average and a .959 save percentage during this run.
BY THE NUMBERS
2: The Wolves’ 4-2 win at Rockford on Friday night means Chicago has scored at least two goals in all 32 games this year – a feat no other AHL team can match. While this streak owns the franchise record for opening a season with 2+ goals, it ranks second on the overall list. John Anderson’s 2006-07 team set the franchise mark by scoring 2+ in 36 consecutive games from Oct. 15, 2006 to Jan. 6, 2007. Of course, it helped to have league MVP Darren Haydar on the roster. Haydar set the AHL point streak record by recording at least one point in each of the Wolves’ first 39 games that year.
10: The Wolves have earned at least one point in the last 10 games, going 9-0-1-0 for the longest active point streak in the league. Not only is Chicago within three games of the AHL’s longest streak this year (Syracuse from Nov. 2 to Dec. 7), it’s within four games of tying the franchise record set by the 2007-08 Calder Cup champions and equaled by the 2009-10 West Division champs and the 2017-18 Central Division titlists.
11: Speaking of nice point streaks, Wolves alternate captain T.J. Tynan has been enjoying the longest streak of his professional career. The Orland Park, Illinois, native handed out one assists Friday to push his streak to 11 games (2G, 11A) and to take the AHL’s assists lead away from usual linemate Brandon Pirri. Tynan owns 25 assists in 32 games.
22: The Wolves are outscoring opponents 48-26 in the first period this season, a 22-goal differential that is the largest among AHL teams in the opening frame. Bridgeport is the only AHL team in the same universe with a +12 margin during the first. The Wolves own a 15-4-3-0 record in the league-leading 22 games in which they have scored first and a 15-1-2-1 record when leading after the first period.
42: The Wolves sit at the top of the Central Division and Western Conference with 42 points. Through 32 games, the Wolves (19-9-3-1) are off to the franchise’s best start since John Anderson’s 2007-08 squad that started 23-8-1-0 on its way to the Calder Cup championship. Chicago leads the AHL with 126 goals — nine more than Lehigh Valley and Syracuse — so it makes sense that the Wolves boast four of the league’s top 10 scorers: League leader Brandon Pirri (17A, 24A), No. 2 Daniel Carr (17G, 22A), No. 8 Brooks Macek (16G, 16A) and No. 10 T.J. Tynan (6G, 25A).
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 616 Wolves all-time) who have competed for the Wolves and in the NHL. That 57.5 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).