SAN ANTONIO RAMPAGE (16-17-1-0) AT CHICAGO WOLVES (20-11-3-1)
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A HAT TRICK OF all-stars
The American Hockey League announced the rosters for the 2019 AHL All-Star Classic on Thursday and the Wolves have secured three of the 10 skaters’ spots on the Central Division roster.
Forwards Brandon Pirri and Daniel Carr and rookie defenseman Erik Brännström are among the players that will compete in the festivities Jan. 27-28 at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts. The All-Star Wolves will represent the Western Conference during the skills competition on Jan. 27 and battle for the Central Division All-Stars during the 3-on-3 round-robin tournament on Jan. 28.
Pirri leads the league in scoring with 41 points (17G, 24A) in 28 games and was honored Wednesday as the AHL’s Player of the Month for December. The 27-year-old Toronto native has notched six goals and three assists in seven games for the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights since being recalled from loan on Dec. 19.
Carr ranks second among AHL scorers with 40 points (17G, 23A) in 29 games and remains the only player in the league this season to produce a four-goal game, which he accomplished on Nov. 7 at Milwaukee.
Brännström led AHL rookie defensemen and shared fifth among all AHL defensemen in scoring (4 goals and 16 assists in 24 games) when he was recalled from loan by Vegas on Dec. 16 to join Team Sweden for the World Junior Championship. He captained the squad that went 4-1-0 and tied for the team lead with four goals in five games. On Wednesday, Sweden fell 2-0 to Switzerland in the WJC quarterfinals. On Thursday, Brännström was returned on loan to the Wolves by Vegas.
Welcome, tye mcginn
On Thursday, the Wolves consummated their first official trade since Dec. 17, 2016, when the team acquired left wing Tye McGinn from the AHL’s Manitoba Moose in exchange for future considerations. Also on Thursday, Wolves defenseman Jimmy Oligny was recalled from loan by the Vegas Golden Knights and traded to the Winnipeg Jets for future considerations. Oligny, who posted one assist and 28 penalty minutes in 16 games with the Wolves, will join the Central Division rival Moose.
McGinn, a 28-year-old Fergus, Ontario, native, produced two goals and four assists in 26 games this season for Manitoba. Drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the fourth round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, McGinn has appeared in 89 NHL games and produced 9 goals and 8 assists spread across four seasons with the Flyers, San Jose Sharks, Arizona Coyotes and Tampa Bay Lightning. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound forward owns 88 goals and 83 assists in 337 AHL regular-season games.
BY THE NUMBERS
3: The Wolves will have three representatives – forwards Brandon Pirri and Daniel Carr and defenseman Erik Brännström – at the 2019 AHL All-Star Classic, joining the San Jose Barracuda as the only other team to have three players selected. It will be Pirri’s third appearance at the AHL All-Star Classic while Carr and Brännström are first-time selections.
4: The Wolves’ prowess during even-strength hockey can be seen at the top of the AHL’s plus/minus ratings — where they own four of the top-five spots. Left wing Daniel Carr and rookie defenseman Zach Whitecloud are tied for the league lead with a +21 plus/minus. Center Gage Quinney stands tied for third with Rochester’s Lawrence Pilut third at +19 while rookie defenseman Nic Hague ranks fifth with a +18.
5: There are five AHL teams that have yet to be shut out this season: Bridgeport, Chicago, Hartford, Iowa and Texas. The Wolves have not been on the short end of a shutout since Feb. 24, 2018, at Manitoba — which means only Texas (Jan. 13, 2018) has been shut out less recently than the Wolves.
9: The San Antonio Rampage roster features a whopping nine former Wolves: forwards Samuel Blais, Conner Bleackley, Jordan Kyrou, Mackenzie MacEachern and Adam Musil, defensemen Chris Butler and Jake Walman and goaltenders Jordan Binnington and Ville Husso. Bleackley, MacEachern and Walman each played roles on the Wolves’ 2016-17 and 2017-18 Central Division champions while the others all helped the 2016-17 team captained by Butler.
26: This is the number Erik Brännström dons for the Wolves, but he hasn’t worn it for the last nine games because he was busy captaining Team Sweden in the 2019 World Junior Championship. Sweden won all four of its preliminary games, but fell to Switzerland in quarterfinal action on Wednesday. The official paperwork for Brännström’s return to Chicago came through on Thursday afternoon at roughly the same time he was named an AHL All-Star.
130: Chicago leads the AHL with 130 goals — seven more than Syracuse — so it makes sense that the Wolves boast three of the league’s top 10 scorers: League leader Brandon Pirri (17A, 24A), No. 2 Daniel Carr (17G, 23A) and No. 7 Brooks Macek (17G, 17A). Center T.J. Tynan sits in 11th place with seven goals and 25 assists.
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).