We sensed our 25th anniversary season would turn out to be special. But the way our coaches and players have bonded together on this bumpy road to the 2019 Calder Cup Finals has made this ride more incredible than we dared to dream.
To put this remarkable journey into perspective, we have put together 25 moments from our 25th anniversary season that help to explain why we’re here. Most are moments to celebrate, but no great story happens without conflict and hard times.
We have revealed five each day (in chronological order) leading up to the 2019 Calder Cup Finals. Now that Game 1 is mere hours away, we deliver our final five moments that focus on the Western Conference Finals vs. San Diego.
MAY 17: HAGUE SENDS IT TO OVERTIME…AGAIN
In Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against Iowa, rookie defenseman Nic Hague scored the game-tying goal in the third period to force overtime. In this Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against San Diego, Hague came through again with 3:05 to play — just when it seemed like the Gulls owned all the momentum thanks to rapid-fire goals by Andy Welinski and Max Comtois.
MAY 17: GLASS WINS IT IN OVERTIME…AGAIN
Oscar Dansk made big save after big save during overtime — 11 in extra time and 40 for the game — but then came a break for the Wolves that initially looked like a bad break. Gulls forward Chase De Leo slashed the stick out of rookie center Cody Glass‘ hands with no call, so he had to skate to the bench to grab another.
Meanwhile, the Gulls’ defensemen jumped into the offensive zone thinking they had a man advantage. Instead, Tye McGinn broke up a pass and it went to Tomas Hyka, who spied Glass behind everyone and threaded the needle with a perfect pass. Glass skated in on Gulls goaltender Jeff Glass and beat him to give the Wolves an improbable 1-0 lead in the series.
MAY 24: “MVP…CLUTCH TIME, BABY!”
San Diego claimed Games 2 and 3, so Game 4 in San Diego became essentially a must-win for the Wolves. Rocky Thompson’s crew dominated the first two periods — outshooting the Gulls 31-12 — but the hosts turned the tables in the third period and first overtime with a 26-10 shots advantage.
Then came an evenly played second overtime that ended with some old-fashioned hard work and a game-winning goal by AHL MVP Daniel Carr to even up the series.
MAY 25: MAX MAKES HISTORY
In the ultra-critical Game 5, the Wolves and Gulls battled evenly most of the night. Daniel Carr gave the Wolves a 3-2 lead at 5:24 of the third period, but the game was still tense when this happened: The first goal by a goaltender in AHL postseason history as well as Wolves history.
Max Lagace received credit for this goal as he was the last Wolves player to touch the puck. When Lundestrom’s pass nestled into the net, all of the air went out of Pechanga Arena and the Wolves went on to a 5-2 victory that left just one more win to go.
MAY 27: BACK TO THE FINALS!
After a travel day, the Wolves and the Gulls reconvened for Game 6 at Allstate Arena. San Diego came out with plenty of jump and fired the game’s first nine shots. Things gradually evened out, but neither team dented the scoreboard for the first 52 minutes.
Then alternate captain Curtis McKenzie camped in front of the crease and redirected a Nic Hague blast — and 19 seconds later Keegan Kolesar did almost the exact same thing with a Griffin Reinhart shot. Kolesar’s goal stood up as the game-winner as the Wolves punched their ticket to the Finals for the first time since 2008.