CHICAGO WOLVES (2-2) AT IOWA WILD (2-2)
A DRY SPELL, THEN A BREAKTHROUGH
The Chicago Wolves set an unwanted postseason franchise record during Wednesday’s Game 4 as the team wrapped up a 143-minute, 4-second stretch without a goal. After Wolves forward Tobias Lindberg scored at 6:07 of the second period during Game 2 on May 2, Iowa goaltender Andrew Hammond and his mates cooled off the Wolves until the 9:11 mark of the third period in Game 4.
The 9:11 mark was when forward Curtis McKenzie redirected a Zac Leslie shot to pull the Wolves within 2-1. While that wasn’t enough for the Wolves to salvage Game 4, it inspired the team to redouble its efforts down the stretch. The Wolves outshot the Wild 25-12 during the final two periods, which head coach Rocky Thompson hopes will carry over to Game 5.
“I liked our pushback at the 10-minute mark (of the third period),” Thompson said. “We were finally able to beat Hammond here, which was important. Then we had a couple really good looks after (McKenzie’s goal), we really did. We need to bear down on those opportunities. We know how it’s going to be. We’ve got to get into those dirty areas. And if we can, we’ll be able to take control of the series again.”
MAYHEW’S A MENACE
Iowa forward Gerald Mayhew turned pro in March 2017. Heading into the Central Division Finals, he had appeared in 19 games against the Wolves and posted three goals and six assists. In other words, just .16 goals per game.
But Mayhew racked up four goals in five games during Iowa’s Central Division Semifinals series against Milwaukee and has gotten even hotter against the Wolves. After scoring both of his team’s goals in Game 4 Wednesday night, Mayhew owns five goals in four games. His nine postseason goals lead the entire Calder Cup Playoffs.
“He’s been scoring goals the same way,” said Wolves head coach Rocky Thompson. “He’s building speed and that’s something we’re trying to limit. You have to give him credit.”
QUICK HISTORY LESSON
Tonight marks the eighth time in Wolves postseason history that the team faces a Game 5 in a best-of-seven with the series knotted 2-2.
The Wolves have posted a 4-3 record in this situation. The wins occurred in the 2000 Western Conference Final (Houston), 2001 Western Conference Final (Manitoba), 2002 Western Conference Semifinal (Syracuse) and the 2008 West Division Semifinal (Milwaukee). The losses happened in the 1998 Turner Cup Final (Detroit), 2008 West Division Final (Rockford) and 2010 West Division Final (Texas).
Perhaps most important: The Wolves wound up winning six of those seven series.
THE SERIES SO FAR
- Iowa forward Gerald Mayhew scored his eighth and ninth goals of the postseason to stake the Wild to a 2-0 lead on the way to a Game 4 win that evened the series.
- Forward Curtis McKenzie scored at 9:11 of the third to pull the Wolves within striking range as defenseman Zac Leslie and center T.J. Tynan picked up the assists.
- Goaltender Oscar Dansk posted 20 saves.
- Wild goaltender Andrew Hammond stopped all 26 shots he saw to lead Iowa to a 2-0 victory in Game 3 of the Central Division Final.
- The Wolves had four power-play opportunities but could not convert despite a multitude of near-misses.
- Goaltender Oscar Dansk stopped 18 of the 19 shots he faced
- The Wolves scored twice in the opening 4:42, allowed two goals, scored two more and then held on for the Game 2 victory at Allstate Arena.
- Forwards Brooks Macek, Matthew Weis and Tobias Lindberg (GWG) and defenseman Zach Whitecloud scored goals while Stefan Matteau and Daniel Carr posted two assists apiece
- Goaltender Oscar Dansk posted 22 saves, which included 11 stops in the third period.
- Rookie center Cody Glass scored 18:39 into the first overtime to lift the Wolves to victory in Game 1 of the Central Division Finals at Allstate Arena.
- Forward Brooks Macek and defenseman Nic Hague scored during regulation while forward Daniel Carr handed out two assists and forward Tye McGinn set up Glass’ game-winner.
- Goaltender Oscar Dansk posted 26 saves, including 10 during overtime.
BY THE NUMBERS
1: The Wild have allowed just one power-play goal in the postseason, which ranks first among the 16 playoff teams with a 97.1 percent clip as they’ve killed 33 of 34 opponents’ power plays. The only PPG allowed by the Wild occurred late in the second period of Game 5 at Milwaukee while trying to kill off a 5-on-3 Admirals advantage. The Wolves have gone 0-for-11 on the power play in the Central Division Finals.
2: The Wolves and the Wild have played 258 minutes and 39 seconds in this Central Division Finals series and neither team has led by more than two goals at any point. Here’s the breakdown for this series:
TIED: 96 minutes, 30 seconds
WOLVES +1: 43:51
WOLVES +2: 18:28
WILD +1: 95:09
WILD +2: 4:41
4: Left wing Daniel Carr became the fourth Wolves player in the last 13 seasons to earn the AHL’s Most Valuable Player award. He received the Les Cunningham Award prior to Game 1 of the Central Division Semifinals on April 19 and joined Kenny Agostino (2016-17), Jason Krog (2007-08) and Darren Haydar (2006-07) in this exclusive club. Hershey is the only other AHL team to have more than one MVP since the Wolves joined the AHL prior to the 2001-02 season.
6: There are just six teams left in the pursuit for the 2019 Calder Cup. When Charlotte wrapped up its sweep of Hershey on Wednesday night in the Atlantic Division Finals, that set up the Eastern Conference Finals between the Checkers and the defending Calder Cup champion Toronto Marlies. Their best-of-seven starts Friday, May 17, at Charlotte. Meanwhile, the identity of the Western Conference finalists can’t be known before Monday night. The Wolves and Wild, obviously, are locked in a 2-2 tie. In the Pacific Division, Bakersfield rallied for a 7-6 overtime win Wednesday night at San Diego. The Condors trail the Gulls 2-1 as the teams meet for Game 4 tonight and Game 5 on Saturday night.
8: The Wolves have lost their last eight games on the road when playing a postseason game in the second round or later: The streak began in 2010 with Game 4 and Game 5 losses at Texas, then continued with two losses in 2014 at Toronto, two losses in 2017 at Grand Rapids and then two losses in these Central Division Finals. In the latter three series, all of those losses came in Games 3 and 4.
336: The Wolves’ 30-man roster boasts 336 games of Calder Cup Playoffs experience. Alternate captain Curtis McKenzie leads the way with 61 AHL postseason appearances while forward Tye McGinn owns 37 games and center T.J. Tynan has 29. The roster features 3 games’ worth of Stanley Cup Playoff experience (Griffin Reinhart 2, McKenzie 1), 44 games in the DEL (Brooks Macek) and 24 games in the Czech League (Tomas Hyka).
358: If you’ve suited up for the Wolves, chances are better than 50/50 that you’ve also played in the National Hockey League. Of the 623 players who have suited up for the Wolves over 25 seasons, 358 also have competed 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).
central division finals schedule
|Game 1||Wolves 3, Wild 2 (OT)||Allstate Arena|
|Game 2||Wolves 4, Wild 3||Allstate Arena|
|Game 3||Wild 2, Wolves 0||Wells Fargo Arena|
|Game 4||Wild 2, Wolves 1||Wells Fargo Arena|
|Game 5||Friday, May 10||Wells Fargo Arena||7 p.m.||Watch|
|Game 6||Monday, May 13||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.||Tickets|
|Game 7*||Wednesday, May 15||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.||Tickets|