CHICAGO WOLVES (33-18-5-2) AT MILWAUKEE ADMIRALS (25-22-12-1)
GETTING TIGHT AT THE TOP
Starting tonight, there are just 38 days left in the 2018-19 regular season — but the schedule has the Chicago Wolves extremely busy. The Wolves face four three-in-three stretches in the last six weekends, beginning tonight with Milwaukee before the Wolves return to Allstate Arena to welcome Iowa on Saturday and the Admirals on Sunday. The Wolves also will spend 15 of their last 18 games of the regular season lining up against Central Division opponents, which makes every game count even more in the fight for a third straight division title.
The race to the top of the Central Division has been tight all season, but the top three teams have created a bit of separation from the rest of the field heading into the final stretch of the regular season. The Wolves are tied with Grand Rapids for first place with 73 points. Iowa is one point back in third, but has a game in hand. Rockford, Texas and Milwaukee are tied for the fourth and final Calder Cup Playoffs spot with 63 points apiece.
tim breslin unsung hero
Wolves fans have just two weeks to vote for the Tim Breslin Unsung Hero Award to recognize the player who best exemplifies Breslin’s on-ice spirit and team-first attitude. This year’s candidates, nominated by the Wolves coaching staff, are center Gage Quinney and defensemen Griffin Reinhart and Zac Leslie. Quinney has 15 goals and 20 assists this year to go with a +34 plus/minus rating and two short-handed goals. Reinhart has recorded 10 points (4G, 6A) and 21 penalty minutes while holding down the blue line for the Wolves and consistently blocking shots. Leslie has stepped up to play both forward and defense this season, notching a pair of goals and 12 assists in 49 games.
Voting ends at noon on March 22 and the winner will be honored prior to the Wolves game on Sunday, April 7, vs. Colorado. Wolves center T.J. Tynan, who was coached by Breslin during his time playing for the Chicago Mission youth hockey organization, received the honor last season. Tynan delivered 13 goals and 43 assists and played a crucial role on the penalty kill and power play.
The Wolves announced Thursday they have signed forward Brady Shaw to a PTO, making him available for the Wolves’ three-in-three this weekend. Shaw, a 26-year-old from Ottawa, Ontario, has split his season between the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears and Fort Wayne Komets. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound forward produced 21 goals and 29 assists in 54 games between the teams and ranks among the ECHL’s Top 25 in goals and points. Shaw played four years at the University of Vermont before starting his professional career with the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage in 2016-17.
BY THE NUMBERS
2: The AHL announced a two-game suspension Thursday for San Antonio’s Jordan Nolan after he launched himself at Wolves forward Daniel Carr on Tuesday. Carr, who missed Thursday’s practice, leads the AHL in goals (30), points (71) and plus-minus rating (+35). While there’s no specific timetable for his return, it appears he’ll miss more time than Nolan. The Wolves posted a 1-4-1-0 record in the games Carr missed while skating with Vegas from Nov. 23 to Dec. 2.
3: The Wolves’ prowess during even-strength play shows up in the league’s plus/minus ratings as Chicago owns the top three spots and four of the top five. Daniel Carr continues to lead the AHL with his +35 rating while linemate Gage Quinney is second at +34. Rookie defensemen Zach Whitecloud ranks third at +33 while Nic Hague stands fifth at +26.
4: Goaltender Max Lagace ranks fourth in the AHL with his 2.35 goals-against average that’s also the best in the Central Division. His .915 save percentage ranks ninth in the league. Lagace has a 15-7-4 record in his 27 appearances for the Wolves this season and, along with Oscar Dansk, plays a huge part in the Wolves allowing the third-lowest goals against per game in the league at 2.74.
30: Until recently, the Wolves and their NHL partner, the Vegas Golden Knights, have been blessed with relatively good health this season. The Wolves have needed to use just 30 players so far this season, which is 15 fewer than last season. Center Tobias Lindberg became player No. 30 last Friday night, but new forward Brady Shaw could be No. 31 tonight. If he plays, then the Wolves can’t tie the franchise record for fewest players set in 1995-96.
33: The Wolves are outscoring their opponents by 33 goals this season (192-159), which trails only Syracuse and Bakersfield for the best goal differential in the AHL. Most of that advantage has been piled up during the first period, when Chicago has outscored its foes 67-41. Nobody in the AHL is close to that +26 margin. The Wolves also outscore opponents by 16 (60-44) in the third. Only Syracuse boasts a better differential.
50: The Wolves have scored 36 goals in their 14 games since the All-Star Break, which means that AHL All-Star left wing Daniel Carr (9G, 9A) had a hand in 50 percent of the team’s goals during that time. He also leads all active AHL players in points per game (1.37) and has been on pace to become the league’s most prolific points producer since Hershey’s Keith Aucoin (106 points) and teammate Alexandre Giroux (103) since 2009-10.
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 619 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 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
All games are streamed on AHLTV.