CHICAGO WOLVES (24-14-5-1) AT ROCKFORD ICEHOGS (19-19-3-5)
BECAUSE IT’S THE (Illinois lottery) Cup
Coming out of the All-Star break, the Chicago Wolves are third in the Central Division with 54 points, five behind first-place Grand Rapids and one back from the Iowa Wild. However, the Griffins have played three more games than the Wolves and the Wild has played one more.
While the Wolves have spent a lot of time this season near the top of the league’s scoring list, Rockford has struggled and ranks last in the league with 105 goals. The Wolves are outscoring teams by a 27-goal margin (156-129), the third-best mark in the league, while Rockford is being outscored by 25 goals (130-105) this season, tied for the third-worst.
Despite these differences, the Wolves and the IceHogs each own four victories in this year’s Illinois Lottery Cup standings. The Wolves need to win two of the four remaining games in order to retain the Cup for the third year in a row.
THE Transaction WIRE
The Wolves and Vegas Golden Knights each will have a bit of a different look coming out of the All-Star Break. On Wednesday evening, defenseman Jake Bischoff and goaltender Max Lagace were recalled from loan by Vegas while Oscar Dansk was returned on loan to the Wolves. This morning, the Wolves announced that defenseman Kevin Lough was recalled from loan to Adirondack (ECHL) and forward J.C. Campagna has signed a PTO with the Wolves.
Both netminders have spent time with Vegas this season as well as playing for the Golden Knights during last season’s playoff run. Dansk has been with Vegas since a recall on Jan. 23 but the Golden Knights did not play a game during his time with the club. He has a 14-6-3 record in 23 appearances with Chicago this season. Lagace spent two weeks with Vegas in January but did not appear in any games. He has played in 19 contests for the Wolves, collecting a 9-6-3 record to go with his 2.79 goals-against average and .899 save percentage.
Bischoff made an appearance on the Knights’ active roster in October of this season, but the 24-year-old has yet to make his NHL debut. Since joining the Wolves full-time on Oct. 25, he has appeared in 39 games and contributed two goals and nine assists.
Lough has appeared in 35 games for the Adirondack Thunder since Nov. 1, recording a pair of goals and 14 assists. Lough split last season between Adirondack and Chicago, playing in 45 games with the Wolves. Campagna, a Dallas, Texas native, has skated in 34 games for the ECHL’s Fort Wayne Komets this season. He leads the team and shares third in the ECHL with 21 goals while adding six assists.
BY THE NUMBERS
2: The Wolves had two representatives — forward Daniel Carr and rookie defenseman Erik Brännström — participate in the 2019 AHL All-Star Classic. Both first-time all-star picks, Carr and Brännström helped the Western Conference win the Skills Challenge, 17-14. The following night in the round-robin style All-Star Challenge, Carr scored two goals and an assist while Brännström dished out four assists for the Central Division.
3: The Wolves boast three players who have appeared in all 44 games this season: Forwards Keegan Kolesar, Brooks Macek and Curtis McKenzie. That’s roughly average in the Central Division. Milwaukee leads all divisional teams with six players who have played in all 45 of the Admirals’ contests. Grand Rapids and Texas have 3, Iowa and Rockford 2, San Antonio 1 and Manitoba — Saturday’s opponent at Allstate Arena — hasn’t had anybody play in all 43 of its games.
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 holds the top spot in the AHL with his +25 rating while rookie defenseman Zach Whitecloud is in second with a +24. Forward Gage Quinney sits third with a +22 and rookie rearguard Nic Hague is in a three-way tie for fourth with his +20 rating.
9: Center T.J. Tynan has scored at least one point in each of the Wolves’ last nine road games in which he has played, posting three goals and nine assists in the span. His road point streak is the longest current streak in the AHL and has him just two points shy of his 100th point with the Wolves. Tynan currently sits third in the league with his 30 assists this season.
21.4: The Wolves’ power play ranks seventh in the league with a 21.4 conversion rate, scoring 40 goals on 187 opportunities. The Wolves will be tested against Rockford’s penalty kill, which stands eighth in the AHL with an 82.8 percent success rate. The Wolves kill penalties at an 81.2 percent rate, a clip that may improve against the IceHogs seeing as Rockford only converts on 15.1 percent of their power plays, which ranks 30th in the AHL.
53: AHL All-Star left wing Daniel Carr enters the second half of the season as the league’s leading scorer with 53 points (21G, 32A). He owns a five-point edge over Syracuse’s Carter Verhaeghe. Carr also paces the AHL in assists and plus-minus rating (+25) and shares fourth in power-play goals (9). If he continues his 1.39 points-per-game pace, he’ll deliver 98 points this season. That would be the most in the AHL since 2009-10, when Hershey’s Keith Aucoin posted 106 points in 72 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).