CHICAGO WOLVES (24-14-4-1) AT CLEVELAND MONSTERS (20-17-4-1)
CREEPING TOWARD THE TOP
Heading into the last game before the All-Star Break, the Chicago Wolves own third place in the Central Division standings with 53 points. Depending on how things shake out tonight, the Wolves could own a share of the division lead as the league hits the break. If Chicago wins in Cleveland while Grand Rapids falls at home to San Jose and Iowa loses at Rockford, then the Wolves, Griffins and Wild will share the top spot at 55 points.
There are other ways than points to sort out the Wolves’ place in the league. Going into tonight’s action, the Wolves boast the Central Division’s best points percentage (.616) and goal differential (+28). The Pacific Division-leading San Jose Barracuda (+32) are the only Western Conference team with a superior goal differential.
Just as Kenny Agostino owned the AHL’s points lead heading into the 2016-17 All-Star Break — when he wound up winning the scoring title as well as the MVP award — a goal and two assists on Thursday against Cleveland extended veteran forward Daniel Carr‘s lead among league scorers to 53 points (21 G, 32A). That’s nine more than Syracuse’s Carter Verhaeghe and Cory Conacher and Hartford’s Peter Holland.
Carr has scored his 53 points in just 37 games, recording multiple points in nearly half (18) of his games this year. He is tied with teammate Zach Whitecloud for the best plus/minus rating in the league at +25, is tied for the second-most power-play points with 21, and the best points-per-game average among active players with his 1.43 clip.
next stop, springfield
Once the final horn sounds on tonight’s game, forward Daniel Carr and rookie defenseman Erik Brännström will be on their way to Springfield, Massachusetts, to take part in the 2019 AHL All-Star Classic festivities. Carr and Brännström will competed in Sunday evening’s skills competition for the Western Conference before skating for the Central Division in Monday night’s three-on-three, round-robin style All-Star Challenge.
Carr and Brännström won’t be the only representatives for the Wolves, though, as former Wolves head coach John Anderson will be inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame on Monday morning, joined in the Class of 2019 by Don Cherry, Murray Eaves and Brad Smyth. Anderson was hired before the 1997-98 season, leading Chicago to a pair of Turner Cup championships in 1998 and 2000 before the franchise joined the American Hockey League. Anderson guided the Wolves to the 2002 Calder Cup in their inaugural AHL season and returned the Wolves to the 2005 Finals before capturing a second Calder Cup in 2008. Anderson racked up 424 regular-season AHL wins behind the Wolves bench, a total that ranks fifth on the league’s all-time list.
BY THE NUMBERS
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 14 games for the Vegas Golden Knights, was removed from the All-Star roster last week as he won’t be returning to the AHL any time soon.
4: The Wolves’ prowess during even-strength play shows up in the top four spots of the league’s plus/minus ratings. Veteran forward Daniel Carr and rookie defenseman Zach Whitecloud are tied at +25 for the top spot in the AHL while forward Gage Quinney sits third with a +22 and rookie rearguard Nic Hague rounds out the top four with his +20 rating. Only Wilkes-Barre/Scranton comes even close with its three players in the No. 8, 9 and 10 spots.
9: After opening the scoring on Thursday with a highlight-reel goal, Wolves blueliner Dylan Coghlan is now tied with teammate Nic Hague in leading all AHL rookie defensemen with nine goals. Thursday’s tally was Coghlan’s third goal in four games, upping his point total to 22 on the season. Coghlan has scored six of his goals on the man-advantage, which also leads all rookie defensemen.
14: Chicago Wolves forward Alex Gallant and his older brother, Cleveland forward Brett Gallant, have played a combined 14 seasons in the AHL but have never met up on the ice. Neither Gallant hit the ice on Thursday at Quicken Loans Arena, and when Cleveland came to Allstate earlier this season, a 6-2 Wolves win on Oct. 24, Brett was not in the lineup. The brothers have both played for the Syracuse Crunch — Brett in 2009-10 during his first year in the league while Alex spent last season with the Crunch.
24: The Wolves have scored four-or-more goals on 24 occasions this year after posting five goals against Cleveland on Thursday. Chicago has scored 153 goals this season, the third-most in the league behind Springfield’s 155 and Toronto’s 154. The Wolves are outscoring teams by a 28-goal margin (153-125) while Cleveland is being outscored by 17 goals this year. Chicago has done its best work in the first period, when 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.
193: On Thursday the Wolves scored four goals in 193 seconds of play against Cleveland to quickly go from trailing 1-0 to leading 4-1. Defenseman Dylan Coghlan and forward Stefan Matteau each scored in the final 57 seconds of the second period before forwards Brooks Macek and Keegan Kolesar scored goals 2:06 and 2:16, respectively, into the third period.
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
|Friday, Feb. 1||at Rockford||MetroCentre||7 p.m.||Watch|
|Saturday, Feb. 2||vs. Manitoba||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.||Tickets|
|Saturday, Feb. 9||at Milwaukee||UW-M Panther Arena||1 p.m.||Watch|
All times Central. All games stream on AHLTV.