CHICAGO WOLVES (23-14-4-1) AT CLEVELAND MONSTERS (20-16-4-1)
nearing the all-star break
The Wolves’ two-game road trip to Cleveland this week marks the final games before the AHL All-Star Break on Jan. 27-30. The Wolves (23-14-4-1) sit in third place of the tightly contested Central Division with 51 points. That’s four points behind Grand Rapids and two points behind Iowa, but the Wolves have two games in hand on the Griffins and one game in hand on the Wild.
First place could be in reach by the break, especially when you consider that the Wolves have four of the top 15 scorers in the AHL. Veteran forward Daniel Carr leads the entire league with 50 points in 36 games while Brandon Pirri still shares fourth with 42 points despite playing just one AHL game since Dec. 18. Forward Brooks Macek ranks 11th with 40 points and center T.J. Tynan shares 14th with his 38 points.
Last season, Rocky Thompson’s Wolves secured a 4-3 victory in Tucson and went into the break third in the division with a 22-15-6-2 record. That win turned into a 7-3-0-0 run through the month of February and several winning streaks through the back half of the season to rally for the Central Division title. During the 2007-08 season, the eventual Calder Cup champions hit the All-Star break with a 31-12-1-0 record.
After the Vegas Golden Knights hosted the Nashville Predators on Wednesday night, the Golden Knights and the Wolves exchanged goaltenders. Oscar Dansk was recalled from loan by Vegas while Max Lagace was returned on loan to the Wolves.
Dansk, 24, makes his first appearance on Vegas’ active roster this season. In 23 games for the Wolves during 2018-19, he has compiled a 14-6-3 record with a 2.80 goals-against average and an .898 save percentage. The Stockholm, Sweden, native made his NHL debut last season with Vegas and recorded a 3-0-0 mark with a 1.78 GAA and .946 save percentage in four games before suffering an injury.
The 26-year-old Lagace spent two weeks with Vegas, but did not appear in a game. He has posted a 9-6-2 record with a 2.72 goals-against average and an .898 save percentage in 18 games for the Wolves this season. Over his last four games prior to being recalled, Lagace produced a 2-1-0 record with a 1.08 GAA and .952 save percentage.
Also on Wednesday, the Wolves recalled center Matthew Weis from loan to the ECHL’s Fort Wayne Komets. Weis contributed 2 goals and 5 assists in 6 games for the Komets during his two-week stint.
BY THE NUMBERS
-4: On Sunday, the Chicago Wolves enjoyed four fewer power-play opportunities than the Milwaukee Admirals. The visitors capitalized on 2 of their 5 power plays on their way to a 4-0 win at Allstate Arena. Not only was the minus-4 differential on power plays the worst showing for the Wolves this season, it marked the first time since Dec. 2 (a stretch of 20 games) that the Wolves had fewer power plays than their opponent.
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.
6: After scoring a pair of power-play goals last week, rookie defenseman Dylan Coghlan now ranks third among league defensemen with six goals on the man-advantage. Coghlan has scored nine of his 20 points – six of his eight goals and three of his 12 assists- this season on the man-advantage.
24: The Wolves have outscored teams by a 24-goal margin (148-124) this season while Cleveland is being outscored by 13 by its opponents. Chicago has been doing its best work in the first period, where the Wolves have scored 25 more goals than their opponents (57-32). The 57 goals are the most in the first period for any AHL team. Cleveland, on the other hand, is being outscored by 13 goals in the first period (48-35), the second-worst margin after Rockford’s minus-18 in first periods.
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 (though Bracco picked up an assist Wednesday night to regain the league lead). Tynan 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: Led by four goals from Paul Thompson — the Chicago Wolves captain last season — the Springfield Thunderbirds piled up 7 goals Wednesday night against the Hartford Wolf Pack. That gives Springfield 154 goals this season to lead the AHL. Toronto ranks second with 152 goals, Charlotte ranks third with 149 and the Wolves share fourth with Iowa with 148 markers after the Wild posted 13 goals in their last three games.
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
|Saturday, Jan. 26||at Cleveland||Quicken Loans Arena||6 p.m.||Watch|
|Friday, Feb. 1||at Rockford||MetroCentre||7 p.m.||Watch|
|Saturday, Feb. 2||vs. Manitoba||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.||Tickets|
All times Central. All games stream on AHLTV.