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Gameday: Tight Central race


Sunday, Jan. 20 | 3 p.m. | The U Too | NHL NetworkAHLTV | Facebook Live


The Chicago Wolves went to bed on Wednesday and Thursday night as the leader in the Central Division. The Grand Rapids Griffins went to bed Friday and Saturday night as the leader in the Central Division.

If Rocky Thompson’s Wolves earn the win over the Milwaukee Admirals today, they’ll seize a share of the division lead alongside the Griffins — while also holding a game in hand and owning the No. 1 tiebreaker with the most regulation and overtime wins. Oh, and if the Iowa Wild win their Martin Luther King Jr. Day matinee over the Rockford IceHogs on Monday, then they’ll join the Wolves and Griffins atop the Central with 53 points apiece. It promises to be a crazy race the rest of the way.

This is not to rule out any of the other Central Division teams — because they’ve been putting together some ridiculous streaks at home. The Manitoba Moose are 6-0-0-1 in their last seven home games, the Texas Stars are 9-0-0-1 in their last 10 home games and the San Antonio Rampage have won their last 11 home games. The Wolves face eight road games at those three venues between Feb. 13 and March 26.


Veteran forward Daniel Carr assisted on both of the Wolves’ goals during Saturday night’s 3-2 overtime loss against Rockford, which made him the first AHL player this year to reach the 50-point mark. Carr, who leads Syracuse’s Carter Verhaeghe by 6 points, has scored 50 points in just 35 games.

To put this into perspective, Kenny Agostino won the AHL’s scoring title and Most Valuable Player award while playing for the Wolves two years ago. He reached the 50-point mark in 38 games. In 2007-08, Jason Krog needed 34 games to hit the 50-point mark on his way to leading the AHL in goals, assists and points while earning the MVP award.

Then there’s Darren Haydar, who’s handling today’s ceremonial puck drop as part of the Wolves’ 25th anniversary celebration. In 2006-07, Haydar needed just 26 games to reach the 50-point mark as he scored at least one point in each of the Wolves’ first 39 games to set the American Hockey League point streak record and tie Wayne Gretzky for the fourth longest streak in professional hockey history. Yes, he went on to lead the league in points and to capture the MVP award.

Getting back on track with Carr, he doesn’t just lead the AHL in points. He shares the top spot in assists (30) with teammate T.J. Tynan and Toronto forward Jeremy Bracco and he shares the top spot in plus/minus rating (+24) with teammate Zach Whitecloud.


.875: On Dec. 2, the Wolves surrendered a pair of power-play goals to the Texas Stars in a 7-4 home loss that dropped the team’s record to 10-9-2-1. Since that time, the Wolves have posted a 13-4-2-0 record (.737) sparked in part by their sparkling penalty kill. Over the last 19 games, the Wolves have killed 49 of 56 opposition power plays (.875) and never allowed more than one PPG in a game.

3: The Wolves had three representatives — forwards Brandon Pirri and Daniel Carr and rookie defenseman Erik Brännström — selected to participate in the 2019 AHL All-Star Classic. It marked Pirri’s fourth selection while Carr and Brännström became first-time picks. Pirri, who has produced eight goals and five assists in 12 games for the Vegas Golden Knights, was removed from the All-Star roster on Friday as he won’t be returning to the AHL any time soon.

5: Five Wolves players have scored at least three goals in one game this season — forward Tomas Hyka most recently joining the ranks with Brooks Macek, Gage Quinney, Daniel Carr (4 goals) and Brandon Pirri. The AHL’s other 30 teams have combined for 30 hat tricks this season. The last Wolves team to have at least five players rack up a hat trick in the same season was the 2008 Calder Cup champs — when Jesse Schultz, Brett Sterling, Kevin Doell, Joel Kwiatkowski, Darren Haydar and Jason Krog (two hat tricks in the playoffs) made it happen.

26: Rookie defenseman Erik Brännström, No. 26 on the roster, blistered a slap shot for the game-tying power-play goal during the third period of Saturday night’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Rockford IceHogs. For the quarterback of the Wolves’ top power-play unit, it marked his first goal (and his first power-play goal) for the team since Dec. 1. To be fair, Brännström missed 10 games from Dec. 16 to Jan. 4 while captaining Team Sweden in the World Junior Championship. While with Team Sweden, Brännström posted four goals in five games. No other defenseman in the tournament scored more than two goals.

98: With an assist Saturday night, center T.J. Tynan kept pace with Toronto’s Jeremy Bracco and teammate Daniel Carr for first place in assists (30) in the AHL. He also pulled into a share of 35th place on the Wolves’ all-time scoring list alongside Kamir Pilos. Tynan owns 23 goals and 75 assists in 110 games. With two more points, he’ll become the 33rd player in Wolves annals to reach the 100-point mark.

148: The Charlotte Checkers scored 3 goals to the Wolves’ 2 on Saturday night, so the Checkers moved one goal ahead of the Wolves for the league’s top spot in scoring. The Wolves rank No. 2 with 148 markers.

356: 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 recent Wolves forward Mackenzie MacEachern made his NHL debut on Jan. 10 for the St. Louis Blues, he became the 356th player (out of 618 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 55 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 (69.1 percent).

THE next three GAMES

Thursday, Jan. 24 at Cleveland Quicken Loans Arena 6 p.m. Watch
Saturday, Jan. 26 at Cleveland Quicken Loans Arena 6 p.m. Watch
Friday, Feb. 1 at Rockford MetroCentre 7 p.m. Watch


All times Central. All games stream on AHLTV.

The Feb. 1 game will be broadcast on The U Too.